Published February 17, 2013Now that Valentine’s Day has come and gone, the pressure is off for another year, right? Wrong. Whether you believe in celebrating the day or you think it is just a bunch of hype, there is something to be said for taking time to do something with the one you love. In fact, research indicates that if more couples focused on nurturing their love for each other, the quality of their marriage relationship would be dramatically enhanced.
A report released by the National Marriage Project found that couples who manage to devote time specifically to one another at least once a week are markedly more likely to enjoy high-quality relationships and lower divorce rates compared to couples who do not devote as much couple time to one another.
“The best advice we ever received was from a married couple who told us to make sure we continued to date after we got married,” said Patrick Patterson. “We schedule a babysitter and do a date night every Thursday night. The only thing that interrupts it is if one of us in traveling or the babysitter is sick.”
After 15 years of marriage, the Pattersons consider date night as essential for staying connected and keeping their relationship on track.
“Date night is in our budget,” said Mr. Patterson. “We don’t spend lots of money every time we go out. Sometimes we just go to the library, for a walk in the park or to Dunkin’ Donuts. It is our time to catch up with each other and we have definitely learned that when we skip date night, it impacts our relationship. We are short with each other and there are more opportunities for things to get out of bounds. Quite frankly, I think our daughters appreciate the break from us and it is good for us to get a break from them.”
Consistent date nights started for the Pattersons when their oldest was six months. Now that their daughters are seven and five, the girls actually get excited about their parents going on a date and want to know what their plans are for the evening.
“I have learned through the years that my wife would much rather have my time and attention than some fancy gift,” said Mr. Patterson. “The time together has helped to keep our relationship fun and adventurous.”
Most marriages begin with romantic love that is linked to passion, excitement and an overwhelming sense of attraction to the one you love. Over time, the passion can fade if you do nothing to nurture it. Dates nights have the potential to take your ho hum marriage and make it spicy, meaningful and fun again. Don’t let money be the reason you don’t date. There are plenty of great ways to have an “at home” or cheap date.
Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- Go around the house and collect any spare change and let that be your budget for your date night activity.
- Once the kids are in bed, play a board game, watch a movie, or….!
- Don’t have a babysitter? Schedule a breakfast date while the kids are at school.
- Take a blanket to the backyard and star gaze with baby monitor in hand.
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As a Certified Family Life Educator Julie writes and speaks on issues related to strengthening marriages and families.