What is a date night?
A date night is when a couple plans to spend time together. They do things that help them connect, talk, and be close. It is an opportunity for couples to break away from their daily routines and responsibilities and focus on nurturing their relationship.
Married couples can have a date night by dining out, watching a movie, going for a walk, or trying something new.
Date night is a time to strengthen the bond between partners. It is also an opportunity to improve communication and create shared experiences. These shared experiences can help bring back the romance and passion in a relationship.
This post will outline five critical elements that a healthy relationship requires and a date night will nurture. We have a guide for planning your date night and 25 great couples date night ideas to start you off.
How does planning a date night lead to a healthy relationship?
The first floor of Gottman's Sound Relationship House is "build love maps." It describes the need to get to truly know your partner. What do you know about important or significant moments their past? How they felt about living through those events? Do you know who their best friend is and how they met?
Fun date nights will help you to build these love maps and a solid foundation for your relationship house.
Fondness and Admiration
As we move up a floor in the Sound Relationship House, the model advises us to "show fondness and admiration." What better way to do this then on a romantic date?
Here are some other important ways that a regular date night will strengthen your relationship:
- Scheduling regular date nights is an important way to keep your emotional bank account well-funded. The more partners turn towards each other during good times, the more likely they are to effectively weather challenging times. Regular date nights ensure that you are protecting this positive time in the context of your busy lives.
- Do you remember what it felt like to fall in love? That's the feeling you want to capture in a date night! Doing something new or at least outside of the routine provides that moment. Seeking novelty is an important way to bring "spark" back into your relationship.
- When talking about intimacy and marriage, typically physical intimacy comes to mind. Hopefully, date night leads to sex but long term relationships need more. Date night can also help build emotional and intellectual intimacy.
The Stress-reducing Conversation
One of my favorite "marriage habits" is the stress reducing conversation. The stress-reducing conversation is an opportunity for couples to reconnect after a long day. Sometimes this is what a date night is for; we can each vent what's on our mind to a compassionate ear.
The stress-reducing conversation rules are simple: don't solve the other person's problems, don't argue against them, and don't take sides. This can take practice! My husband is an engineer and I consider problem-solving my biggest strength...resist the urge and just listen.
It's important to think of yourselves as a team, and date nights are great times to re-establish that bond. Gottman uses the term "we-ness." This describes an orientation towards "we" instead of "me". We have a great post on that, that even includes a quick assessment quiz to see where your relationship falls.
Nine steps to planning a unique date night
We've discussed the "why" of date nights, let's talk about the "How". Here are some steps to help you plan a successful date night:
1. Choose a date and time: Decide on a specific date and time that works for both you and your partner. Consider your schedules and any other commitments you may have.
2. Discuss preferences: Talk to your partner about their preferences and interests. Find out what activities they enjoy and what they would like to do on the date night. This will help ensure that both of you have a great time.
3. Set a budget: Determine how much you are willing to spend on the date night. This will help you narrow down your options and plan accordingly. Plan affordable regular date nights with occasional special events to have a balanced and enjoyable romantic life.
4. Brainstorm ideas: Come up with a list of date night ideas based on your preferences and budget. Consider activities such as dining out, watching a film, taking a stroll, exploring new things, or staying in and cooking together. Check out the list below or check out Pinterest for some date ideas for couples!
5. Choose an activity: From the list of ideas, select an activity that both you and your partner are excited about. Consider factors such as the weather, location, and availability of resources.
6. If you plan on dining out or participating in an activity that requires reservations, it is important to book in advance. This will ensure that you have a guaranteed spot.
7. Plan the logistics: Consider transportation, timing, and any other logistical details. Make sure you have everything you need for the date night, such as tickets, reservations, or any necessary equipment.
8 Surprise your partner by keeping the date activity a secret until the day of the date. This can add excitement to the experience. A word of caution here, not everyone likes surprises; consider what your partner would like!
9. Enjoy the date night: On the day of the date, relax, have fun, and enjoy each other's company. Use this time to connect, communicate, and create shared experiences that will strengthen your relationship.
Remember, the most important aspect of a date night is spending quality time together and nurturing your relationship. So, focus on creating a memorable experience that both you and your partner will enjoy.
25 Fun date night ideas for married couples (or any couple)
1. Take a cooking class together and learn to make a new dish.
2. Go on a picnic in a nearby park or beach.
3. Have a movie night at home with a theme, such as watching all the movies from a specific genre or series.
4. Explore a local museum or art gallery.
5. Go for a hike or nature walk in a scenic area.
6. Take a day trip to a nearby town or city and explore its attractions.
7. Have a game night with board games or video games.
8. Go on a bike ride together.
9. Visit a local farmer's market and cook a meal using fresh ingredients.
10. Take a dance class together, such as salsa or ballroom dancing.
11. Go on a wine or beer tasting tour.
12. Have a DIY spa day at home with facial masks, massages, and relaxation.
13. Go stargazing in a clear area away from city lights.
14. Take a scenic drive and explore new areas.
15. Have a themed date night at home, such as a 90s movie marathon or a tropical-themed dinner.
16. Go on a mini-golf or bowling date.
17. Attend a local comedy show or improv night.
18. Take a scenic boat ride or kayak trip.
19. Visit a local amusement park or fair.
20. Have a karaoke night at home or at a local karaoke bar.
21. Go on a brewery or winery tour.
22. Take a cooking class together and learn to make a new dish.
23. Have a picnic in a nearby park or beach.
24. Go for a hike or nature walk in a scenic area.
25. Take a day trip to a nearby town or city and explore its attractions.
Put these fun dating ideas onto your family calendar or any others. The most important thing is to spend quality time together and to create shared experiences that will strengthen your relationship.
In summary, date nights play a pivotal role in maintaining a happy and thriving marriage. They reigniting romance, promoting communication, enhance fondness, reducing stress, and keeping the relationship vibrant and fulfilling.