In a contest of marital cliches, communication may be the front-runner, but date night is a close second. While I could spend all week coming up with valid reasons not to spend precious free time engaged in artificially romantic endeavors, the truth is we need them.
Here are the top 10 reasons why:
Every relationship requires maintenance. Seeing a movie or taking a walk with your spouse is much less expensive (and more fun) than twice weekly sessions on an outdated sofa in a counselor's office. Date night also costs a fraction of what you'd spend from your side of an attorney's desk. Think of these expenditures as an investment not only in your happiness, but in your long-term financial health as well.
We all get tired of looking at our partners. No matter how much they set us a flutter in the beginning, the sparkle wears off. Sometimes (admit it) you check out other people's spouses and think, "Dang! That's a hot one!" Rest assured that while you are mid-melt, someone else is checking out your partner. It's nothing to be ashamed of, just human nature. Date night - especially if you both take the time to shave in the right spots - can remind you what you saw in this person in the first place.
The extreme urge to get very far away from the creatures you birthed is natural. We all need adult time. Unfortunately, the guilt that comes along with that desire is common. Date nights are the exception because you know that taking care of your relationship is one of the single most important things you can do for your children's overall well-being. You know that, right?
Between the diapers, the (oops) late electric bill, and that odd smell in the hallway, romance can get away from you-quick. Sometimes you wonder how you ended up with this person. Getting away from everything together helps you focus on each other-on what attracted you. You may be surprised to find you're still kind of into each other-at least until you need to get home to unclog the drain.
We all get selfish. When the routine at home gets stressful, we seek comforts, from eating the foods we like to watching what we want on TV. All of these petty preferences divide us. The great thing about date night is that it has an agenda. Even if you're only going to a coffee shop to share a triple-choco-latte, you're there to be together. That's the only objective.
When you have young kids, you can start to feel frumpy fast. If you don't have a date night, what excuse have you got to dress up? Some of us end up covered in spit-up most days. Even if you dress in "real clothes" for work every day, you still need the glamour date night provides. Couples need to see each other at top form once in a while. Remember, you don't have to spend a lot of money to look cute. (But if you've got a little extra, spend it on shoes.)
Your kids will enjoy seeing their parents go out and do something fun. They might not admit it, and they may even try to pour on a little guilt, but it can only do them good to see mom and dad make each other a priority. You'll be setting a good example, and they really do like that junky food we fix on our way out to something better. (STOP feeling guilty. It's not every night!)
Seriously, hair can take a long time! The point here is not that you're not already bathing on a regular basis, but that everyone needs special things to look forward to. Sometimes our regular work-a-day and take-care-of-the-kids lives don't offer many opportunities to shine. Maybe you aren't working your dream job or slicing your carrots on granite countertops, but you can make date night a bright spot on your calendar.
In the early years of a relationship, friends are always asking how you met. This inevitably leads to sweet or funny or mushy stories of eyes locking and hands trembling and blahty-blah-blah-blah. But it's fun, and reminds you why you (see above) a) find each other hot, and b) used to be quite into each other. So live a little, in the past. You don't want to rely on memories for all your contentment because that would mean you're not busy making new ones, but reminiscing about good times together (not just at the beginning) is good for your future.
And the number one reason to date your spouse:
Sex is really, really good for you. You need it. Just like food and water, it's fundamental to good health - both your physical well-being and that of your relationship. Obviously, date night is critical. How do you expect to get naked with someone you can't have a conversation with? A scheduled date night is not the end-all-be-all solution to every relationship trouble, but it's one little thing you can do. And it's not the grand gestures that define a relationship; it's the little things, added up over time, that fortify.
So think little, as in-get a little.
See more of Lela's stories here.