Date night may need some serious resuscitation. Redbook magazine found that 45 percent of couples rarely have date nights, while only 18 percent said they go out once a month.
This is sad news, since marriage experts say you can keep your marriage strong, healthy and adventuresome by spending regular time together doing something you both enjoy. Couples who intentionally spend time together often marvel at the positive impact it has on their marriage and family.
An astonishing 80 percent of marriages crumble, but it's not because of something huge. It's because they say they have become disconnected.
According to The Date Night Opportunity, a report by the University of Virginia's National Marriage Project, couples who devote time specifically to one another at least once a week are way more likely to enjoy high-quality relationships and lower divorce rates.
How can a simple date actually help a marriage?
Researchers say date nights provide opportunities to talk that may help couples deepen their understanding of one another and the relationship. Couples who engage in new activities that are fun, active or otherwise arousing — from hiking to dancing to travel to card games — enjoy higher levels of relationship quality. They also counteract the tendency to take each other for granted. Regular date nights may especially benefit couples who do more than the old standby of dinner and a movie.
Date nights may also:
Strengthen or rekindle that romantic spark in order to sustain the fires of love.
Strengthen a couple's sense of commitment to one another. Partners who put each other first, steer clear of other romantic opportunities and cultivate a strong sense of "we-ness" or togetherness are happier than less-committed couples.
Relieve stress. They allow a couple to enjoy time away from the pressing concerns of their ordinary life.
Give couples an opportunity to support one another emotionally in trying times.
The report found that couples who spend time together at least weekly:
Are about three times more likely to say they are "very happy" in their marriages;
Report higher levels of communication and commitment;
Express higher satisfaction with their sexual relationship than couples who spend less couple time together.
If you haven't been planning date nights, maybe you could try it out for the next six weeks. Consider setting aside an hour or two each week for a little adventure. If you don't have a clue where to start or just need some fresh ideas, here are some tips.
Agree not to talk about the kids, your job or the in-laws. You don't have to spend a ton of money - just play together! At the end of the six weeks, discuss any changes you have experienced in your relationship.
"Couple time" can make a serious difference in your relationship. Try it and see for yourself.