What are you willing to say “no” to in order to say “yes” to a better, more intimate, more passionate marriage?
Most couples realize that regular time alone together away from kids and daily life is important for the strength and longevity of their marriage. Yet, if my date night survey is representative, half of all couples are frustrated with how little they are able to go on dates.
Why the disconnect? For most couples, it comes down to the many obstacles that get in the way.
(Admittedly, there are those few who think that once you’re married dating is no longer necessary – a completely wrong-headed assumption! If you count yourself among those, please read my previous post.)
There are many reasons that married couples stop dating each other. Here’s what the couples who took my survey said were the biggest impediments to having more regular date nights (these add up to more than 100% because I allowed more than one answer).
Other than the obstacles that point to relationship issues, many of the reasons above come down to a how a couple manages their priorities.
Let’s break down the top reasons and discuss some potential remedies
By a fair margin, busyness is clearly date-night enemy number one! Given the breakneck speed of our lives these days, it’s not surprising that a little less than half gave this as a reason that dates weren’t happening as often as they’d like. If you are too busy to date each other, you are too busy! Sit down together and look at your current commitments. What can you cut out that isn’t essential? Where can you simplify your life? Be brutal if you have to, but make room for dates.
Money issues were reported by about one in three survey takers, but money need not be a reason not to date. You have to get a little more creative than just going to dinner and a movie, but there are plenty of things to do together that cost little or no money. The point of date night isn’t to spend a lot of money (unless you have it to spend), but it is to spend time on each other.
Being too tired was listed as an obstacle almost as often as money (a little less than one in three). Being too exhausted for each other goes beyond mere busyness. It means you are spending too much of your physical and emotional energy on things other than the most important relationship in your life – the one with your spouse. What would it take for you to get to bed earlier? What is zapping your energy and leaving you feeling wiped out? Is there any way to reduce your stress level? The point is, you need to manage your life so that your spouse doesn’t just get your leftovers because it isn’t likely that there will be any!
Trying to plan dates around the kids is clearly a challenge, especially when they are young, and it’s likely they contribute to one or more of the first three obstacles. If finding a babysitter is too difficult or expensive, arrange to take turns doing a “kid-swap” with some friends who have children. That way both couples benefit! Failing that, consider some at-home dates after the kids are in bed. Getting away is great when it can happen, but it isn’t the only way to have a date together. Watch for an upcoming post on at-home date ideas.
5) Relationship Issues
Overall, the obstacles that point to relationship troubles accounted for 25% of all answers – a significant number.
Of the five answers in this category, a spouse’s lack of interest ranked highest. If either you or your spouse doesn’t enjoy spending time together, you need to find out why. Talk about what it would take to make spending time alone together more enjoyable. If you can’t agree on what to do, take turns planning your dates (also watch for next week’s post). If you are concerned about arguments breaking out, agree to leave some “hot topics” off the table during your dates.
If you have resentment or other troubles in your marriage, don’t brush them off, even if it seems easier to do so. If problems in your marriage are creating a roadblock to regular dates, seek the counsel of a pastor or a strong couple to help you deal with your relationship issues. But deal with them!
It’s easy to say that you need to make dates a priority and less easy to actually do. Start by sitting down with your spouse and talking about what is keeping you from frequent and regular date nights. Identify your top few obstacles, and then brainstorm options for overcoming them. What are you willing to say “no” to, in order to say “yes” to a better, more intimate, more passionate marriage?
I recommend a weekly date, but if that is too much of a stretch, take a look at your calendars for the next month and put two date nights in your schedule. Protect these dates vigorously! You don’t have to decide right now what you are going to do (that’s for my next post), but decide who will be in charge of making the plans, whether you take turns, plan together, or one person does it all.
Hold each other accountable. It’s okay to ask, a week or so out, whether the plans are all set. Don’t be tempted to say, “Well, if he/she really cared, I wouldn’t have to remind him/her.” Give each other the benefit of the doubt. Better to say, “I’m really looking forward to our date on Friday. Can you clue me in on your plans? Or is it going to be a surprise?”
What is the biggest obstacle for you and your spouse when it comes to having more dates? What do you think can be done to overcome it? Leave a comment.
Next Time: “I Don’t Know, What Do You Want to Do?”
Need A Little Romance Help?
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