Married life is hard work. Between jobs, kids, social obligations, family and friends, your relationship is often the last thing you put effort into.
When you first started out, you
likely made sure to take the time needed to go on dates, spend quality time together and get to know each other. Once you said, “I do,” you probably breathed a sigh of relief thinking you’d never have to date again. You were wrong.
One of the most important things you can do for your relationship is to have weekly date nights. No matter how much you have going on during the week, how long you’ve been together, how many kids you have, or how much you hated dating when you were single, there is no excuse to not take an evening out of the week to reconnect with your partner.
Spouses often think, now that they are married, they don’t have to put the time and energy into their relationships. Because the single rules of dating don’t apply, when spouses do spend alone time together, they often discuss (or fight about) the kids, talk about things they need to get done around the house, and may even have nothing to say to each other.
This can lead to anger and resentment
, and may negatively impact your ability to be intimate with your partner. Your marriage may become all about the kids instead of about what brought the two of you together in the first place – your love for each other and the ability to enjoy each other’s company.
As Susan Wisdom points out in her book “Stepcoupling,” “the couple is the glue of the relationship.” Your couple relationship deserves attention so that you are stronger together to make it through the many ups and downs of stepfamily life
. The payoff will not only be a happier relationship for you and your spouse, but a good way to show your kids what it takes to have a successful relationship.
Here are some good guidelines to follow for dating your spouse:
1. Make time.
Set a particular time each week (or no less than twice a month) that belongs to just the two of you. If you have the kids every other weekend, it’s a good idea on one of those weekends to get a babysitter and go out, just you two. It will send a great message to your kids about being a couple in a relationship: that you love your kids and that you also love your spouse. It’s also good for the kids to make an adjustment to the couple hierarchy in the household – the adults (who have their relationship), then the children.
2. Create anticipation.
Scheduling a time each week to have a date creates anticipation of your time together. If you set it up where you have good couple time together (with romance, laughter, and sex), you will miss that intimacy when you don’t have it because it makes you much more aware when it’s lacking. You can get used to the lack of intimacy and get complacent, and the discontent in your relationship will become greater. You will find yourselves arguing over not having sex, feeling like the relationship is failing, arguing over so many things and causing resentment to build. A set time keeps you both focused on your relationship. It tells your partner that they do matter to you, no matter how busy or difficult your week was. That’s a powerful message to send.
3. Learn about each other.
When you were falling in love
, you most likely shared your histories and took the time to learn about each other. And just because you’re married, it doesn’t mean there aren’t even more things to learn about your partner. During your date nights, find out about your partner’s week, what happened that was important to them, who they had lunch with, what’s going on at work. Also use date night as a time to remind your partner why you love them and reminisce about your relationship.
4. Share experiences.
Your date night can be anything you want it to be. Go out to dinner, take a walk, or go see a movie, a concert, or a play together. Talk about it afterwards. Share the experience together and then go home and find the time to make love. When you are connected to your partner again, emotionally and physically, things don’t seem as difficult. It’s so much easier to talk about the hard things in a relationship when you have reconnected your intimacy.
5. What NOT to discuss.
Never, never, ever, ever (did I say that enough?) talk about the kids, your exes, or your resentments and bitterness on your date night. Doing so will immediately kill the mood and may send your partner running emotionally in the other direction. If you are finding it hard to get your partner to commit to a date night, that might be why. If your night isn’t set on romance, fun, good talk, and connection, then it won’t work. That doesn’t mean you should never discuss those things, but date night isn’t the time to do it.
Keep focused on connecting
in your relationship through dating. A couple who enjoys their couple time together will have a more satisfying relationship.