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Ahhhh, it finally happened. You and your spouse sat down to eat and… dead silence. In fact, this has happened a lot lately: while lying in bed, riding in the car, sitting on the couch, deciding what to do for fun. You realize that the two of you have absolutely nothing in common to talk about. If you aren’t talking about the kids, work, responsibilities, or bills—there’s nothing.

Many emotions creep in—Fear. Sadness. Concern. Bewilderment. What happened to us? We used to talk non-stop for hours. We had endless fun and romantic dates. And now it feels awkward and forced. And it feels “in your face” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yes, I remember those feelings. My wife and I have had that moment where we sat in the bed, both wide awake, and couldn’t think of anything to talk about. We’ve had the arguments about us never wanting to do the same thing for a date or for fun. We’ve experienced the tension with not being able to connect intimately. And we know the awkwardness of not being able to talk about what’s going on at work. 

So, what do you do? These 9 things can help you really connect.

1. Accept that it’s NORMAL.

You’re not the first couple to experience this, nor the last. Marriages go through stages. The Gottman Institute, a relationship research institute says that “a person’s inner world changes as they pass through the seasons of life.” Each of you may be growing, changing, and evolving. That’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing. It’s likely that you’re becoming better versions of yourself which is good for both you and the marriage. There are times when it is difficult to connect with your spouse because your way of connecting is becoming different. 

2. Be aware of letting the world creep in to your marriage

  • Is all your brain energy focused on work?
  • Are you totally focused on your children and that’s all you talk or think about?
  • Are you consumed with social media? Work, kids, and social media are, in and of themselves, not distractions. However, we can place a higher priority on each to the detriment of our marriage.
  • Are you taking the allotted vacation time from work?
  • Do you care more about your success at work than your marriage?
  • Are you overscheduling your children so that there’s no couple time?
  • Do you find yourself sharing all of your thoughts and getting absorbed in the information and conversation on social media? When your brain is focused elsewhere it can feel like you don’t have anything in common with your spouse.

It may be time to evaluate where your time and mental energy is going. If you are communicating, who are you communicating with and what are you communicating about? Be willing to make the necessary changes to ensure that your relationship is priority. Regular date nights may be in order. 

3. Curiosity is key.

Commit to learning new things about your spouse. Remember—you used to talk all the time. Part of that was because you were learning all kinds of new things about each other and it was fresh. There’s a good chance that one or both of you has grown or changed in the time you’ve been married. Kids may be grown and gone. Your philosophies on parenting or success may have changed. Instead of being bored with your spouse, take the initiative to become a student of your spouse. Talk about their dreams, what success means, or how they like to spend their time. 

4. Focus on loving the differences.

Get into your spouse’s world and learn about it. Sometimes we allow our differences to drive us apart. We begin making value judgments about our differences. For instance, I like to make lists and get things done on Saturday morning which I think is way better than my wife who likes for us to take Saturday morning and visit with other families. She’s an introvert—I’m an extrovert who likes to socialize and build relationships any and everywhere and I often think my way is better.

Don’t let differences lead to judgments. Instead, allow your differences to take you down a path of learning more about your spouse. She likes to garden and you don’t. Spend time with her in the garden. He likes to read, you’d prefer to watch a movie. Read a book together. Consider the ways that your spouse’s differences are not only likable, but helpful to the marriage. There’s a saying, “If both of you were the same, then one of you would be unnecessary.”

5. Plan and do some everyday things together.

Planning our weekly menu and cooking together was one thing that worked well for me and my wife. We didn’t focus on the silence. We were trying to accomplish a task together. For example, we started trying new recipes. We had to work together. We were learning about each other’s likes, dislikes, comforts, and discomforts. My wife is more willing to try new things. I began to appreciate and even love that more. We created some new dishes that we still eat to this day. We made memories. DIY home improvement projects, vacation and holiday planning are all fair game. The key is learning about your spouse by listening and doing things together.

6. Shared experiences create great memories.

It’s amazing how shared experiences of giving can increase your spirit and help you to remember what’s important in life. The two of you can accomplish more together helping someone else than you can apart from each other. Do something for an elderly neighbor. Serve food together at a community kitchen. Volunteer at Habitat for Humanity. Come together and decide what the two of you can do for someone else as a team.

7. Explore new things.

This is how my wife and I got into hiking together. She liked doing puzzles. I liked playing sports. I liked being in social settings with lots of people. She liked intimate settings with few people. I’d rather go to the movie theatre. She’d rather watch it on Netflix. We knew this wasn’t going to work forever. We needed some fun stuff to do together.

There were some hits and misses along the way. But getting outside and hiking became something that we tried and both loved. She doesn’t feel like she’s lost herself and neither do I. Be willing to try new things. Some couples create YouTube channels and post videos as a couple. Others take up doing regular community service. Don’t get discouraged. You’ll look back one day and laugh at the things you tried that both of you hated and others that one of you loved and the other hated. 

8. Support your spouse’s strengths.

Is your spouse really good at building relationships, problem solving, budgeting, fixing things, being a peacemaker, etc.? It’s not unusual that our partner’s strengths attracted us to them in the first place, especially when they are good at what we’re not. Opposites do attract. We used to admire it, encourage it, and even be excited to watch them work in their strongest areas. Look for ways to support your spouse in what they are good at.

9. Turn toward, not away.

It’s easy to build resentment or begin to think your spouse has the problem. They aren’t making you happy. We’re growing apart. And our mind will begin to complete the story for us. I can spend the next 2 pages alone making lists of all of the differences me and the wife have, and the things we don’t have in common. Don’t shut each other off. Instead, talk about your concerns. Train your brain not to think of your spouse or yourself as the issue. Check any resentment, bitterness or criticism at the door. And see this as an issue that we will work through.

When you begin to feel like you have nothing in common with your spouse, instead of looking for a way out, see it as an opportunity to learn how to enjoy the beauty of your differences. If you focus on what you don’t have in common, you will for sure find it. The opposite is true as well: if you look for what you have in common, you will find that also.  

Other Related Blogs: 

I’m Bored With My Spouse in Quarantine

We’re Total Opposites! Can We Make Our Relationship Work?

What To Do When You and Your Spouse Really Are Opposites

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

With the right tools, you and your spouse can have the best communication ever!

This easy-to-use virtual 5-day course guides you and your spouse to have the best communication you’ve ever had! This course includes exclusive access to:

  • 5 downloadable relationship-enhancing PDFs
  • Videos full of easy-to-use communication tools
  • Questions to ask each other to spark a deeper connection
  • Fun activities to guide you through each of the concepts discussed

ADD TO CART

Businesses are opening. Restaurants, gyms, retail, places of worship—all opening or communicating plans to open. You can feel the shift in the air. Are you ready for life after quarantine?

Family and friends are politely gauging my interest in social gatherings. 

Updates from little league coaches are hitting my notifications. 

People are having discussions about going back to the office. 

Lots of people are tentatively planning birthday parties. 

The kid’s scout troop is considering one last event.

My small group is toying with the idea of moving from virtual meetings to in-person.

It’s not official yet, but just realizing “life” is looking to restart is making my head spin. 

This quarantine has some advantages. We’re not eating out so much since we’re not going from work to whatever activity is on the schedule next. My wife and I are not having to “divide and conquer” to get everyone to their respective destinations. Instead of saying, “Everybody out of the car, get a snack, brush your teeth, put on your pajamas and go to bed!after we get home from another late night engagement, our evening and bedtime routines are more peaceful. I actually know my kids better now, and I’ve taken the time to connect more deeply with my wife. 

I am genuinely afraid of losing all that positive momentum we’ve gained. I’m afraid that we’ll become too busy again. Is not entering the rat race an option? Why do we do it year after year? Do we have to?

We do this for noble reasons:

  • Wanting to make significant contributions to our community.
  • Wanting our children to be well-rounded and wanting to expose them to individuals who were set up to succeed in anything they chose. 
  • Sitting at home is not as fun or engaging as going to event after event. 
  • It seems to be the right thing to do for ourselves, our marriage and our kids.

But, I like the nighttime pillow talk with my wife that I’m not too tired to have anymore, the spontaneous fun with my kids, and the extended conversations with my mom who lives by herself. I’ve had more meaningful conversations with some of my closest friends than I’ve had in years. I’m afraid of losing all that.

As you prepare for your world to open back up, intentionally reflect on how the quarantine affected your life.

Instead of busting out of your home as soon as you can, consider any lessons you’ve learned about yourself, your spouse, and your family. What did you learn during quarantine? Bring the growth you’ve experienced into your post-quarantined life. As afraid as we may be of becoming too busy again, we should be more afraid of wasting this moment in time. 

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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Prior to this time in history, I would not have believed that it could be possible for my husband and I to spend too much time together. Life was more like, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder…” because of all the work and social engagements that filled my calendar. We are now living in a new reality. Today, we are living in a world of quarantine over-familiarity, which often breeds contempt

You may be feeling like a good long vacation away from your spouse is just what the doctor ordered and feeling guilty about even entertaining the idea. I mean, can anybody relate? Now, it’s like your spouse can’t do anything right. Just the way they say, “Good morning!” or “What’s on your agenda today?” In your mind, all you are thinking is, “Please, Please, PLEASE, stop TALKING to me. Your voice is IRRITATING.” 

OMG! Why is this happening? We’re not like this! Now I am asking myself…

Did I marry the wrong person?

Did we fall out of love with each other?

Is THIS the “new normal?”

There have been several articles referring to increased divorce filings as a result of COVID-19, specifically in China where there were over 300 divorce filings in three weeks. Other media outlets have sought to provide AWARENESS of the conditions that may create “impulsive divorce requests.”

So, the answer to the question is YES. It is possible for couples to spend too much time together. But, it isn’t necessarily a concern or cause for divorce. If you’re feeling this way,  here are a few things to think about:

You Are Not Alone. I know that sounds cliché. Many of us are going through the same things (too much togetherness, irritating behaviors from our spouse, being overwhelmed with work, home, family). We are ALL stressed or even traumatized by how radically our lives have changed. Be aware that stress has an impact on us physically as well as emotionally. 

Double-Check Your Perspective. Be careful what you look for, because you’ll find it. Fear and stress can make you focus on every little thing that is wrong. And remember the little things are being magnified. The differences that you and your spouse have are being exacerbated. It has been easy for me to take my feelings (anger, guilt, frustration, worry, fear) out on my spouse. 

Pre-COVID-19, we were accustomed to having a balance in our lives between our time together and our alone time. This lack of balance and the fact that it is all time together can make you notice the worst in each other.

Reach Out To Your Tribe. Talk to people in your circle that are for your marriage and who you can trust. Share your struggles. Ask them about what’s happening in their world. Ask, “How are you really doing?” How are other couples you know managing their day-to-day? Be careful—sometimes other people’s problems are contagious and suddenly become our problems.

It’s okay to take time out to have a ZOOM call with your friends or coordinate a FaceTime Tea Time or Google Hangouts Happy Hour. Talk to them about your stress, your concerns, or your fears. Now is when we need our good friends the most. Don’t be afraid to say, “I’m struggling.” REMEMBER, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. 

Change Is Possible And Probable.

Some people may be thinking, once this quarantining is over, I am getting the heck out of this marriage. People harboring those feelings may mistakenly believe that it will be more of the same after quarantine. Proceed with extreme caution when it comes to making BIG, LIFE-ALTERING DECISIONS during or right after this experience. Give yourself and your spouse time to recalibrate your relationship. 

Make sure you are controlling your emotions and not letting your emotions control you. For some, it can be especially helpful, after a trauma such as this, to involve a counselor or therapist to assist you in your efforts to process what has happened and create a plan for moving forward. Here’s a great resource to help you figure out how to find a counselor that works for you and your spouse.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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When I dropped my daughter off at preschool this morning, she asked me to stay and read. As a busy parent, I needed to get to work, and I tried to explain that to her. Of course, she’s 2 and was adamant in her request. The persistence of little children is astonishing…and exhausting. I gave in to her plea and sat on the floor with her to read one book, which turned into two. Our daddy-daughter time quickly attracted more 2-year-olds eager to listen. Did I have the time to sit for ten minutes and read? I didn’t think so at the time. Was it worth being a little late? Definitely!

As parents, we often get consumed by the whirlwind of demands on us. School, work, extracurricular activities, sports, social life – all these things tug at our time and often our kids suffer. I am guilty of this. The thing is, it doesn’t take lots of planning or effort to show them love. All it took today was 10 minutes in the floor with some 2-year-olds. Some days, it just takes letting her do my hair (scary, I know) while I read a book. Often, for my 6-year-old son, we just need to have a spontaneous nerf gun fight or play with beyblades or legos.

It may seem like we don’t always have time to do these little things, but we really can’t afford not to. Maybe it’s just me who feels like I am always pulled in different directions, but as I watched my 6-year-old walk into first grade today like a big boy, I remembered that time is passing quickly. My son and my daughter need my attention. If I want them to grow into amazing adults, I need to be intentional about devoting time to their needs at this age. I need to build the trust with them now that dad is always here and supports what they love.

As I sat there on the floor reading “Good Night Gorilla,” the worry about time disappeared. This little girl was the center of the world, dad was her hero, and the day began with a memorable moment – for both of us. She sent me off with a kiss and, “I love you,” in her sweetest voice.

Did I have the time to read this morning? I didn’t have time not to read.

As a parent, you might be in too much of a hurry if:

  • You talk on the phone when your child tells you about their day;
  • Your kids eat most meals in the car;
  • You dress your child when she can dress herself – buttoning, zipping, finding her coat, etc;
  • Your child constantly hears, “Are you ready?” or “Hurry up!”;
  • Your child never completes a project at play time;
  • You don’t have time to read to your child or let him/her read to you; and
  • You don’t have enough time to talk with and listen to him/her.

Why does this matter? All of these activities help your child develop fine motor skills critical for reading and writing.

“In order for a child to develop holistically, fine motor skills are very important,” says Lu Lewis, early childhood educator. “When you slow down and allow your child to do the activities listed above, you allow him to learn eye-hand coordination. His hands and eyes learn to work together. For example, when you give a child something to cut out, their eyes see what you want them to cut and their hands cut what their eyes see.”

Even simple things like a baby grasping for an object is a fine motor skill.

When a parent always gives the rattle to the baby, it robs them of an opportunity to learn this skill.

“A mom once asked me if it was bad if she didn’t play with her child all the time,” Lewis says. “In today’s society, I think many people believe they are not being good parents if they are not always entertaining their child. The truth is your child needs to play for a period of time with an object in order to complete a play cycle and concentrate to the point that it is etched into their long-term memory. Many educators see children in their classroom who are always dependent on an adult to complete a project for them because they have never completed a project by themselves.”

Believe it or not, helping your child develop fine motor skills is not complicated.

Just including your child in your day can help develop these skills. Folding laundry, talking with your child as you cook, letting him walk with you to the mailbox and allowing him to open the mailbox and grab the mail, asking him to get a pan or utensil for you, and allowing him to play in the tub with toys are all activities that help to naturally develop these necessary skills.

“Most parents I work with really want their child to do well,” Lewis says. “Sometimes parents do things they believe are helping their child when they are actually hindering their development. The number one thing I would tell parents is to slow down, relax and let your child truly experience life.”

In addition to including your child in your daily activities, Lewis encourages parents to:

  • Walk with your child down the street and count bricks or pick dandelions.
  • Encourage them to sit at the kitchen table while you fix dinner and string beads or sort blocks by color instead of watching television or playing on the computer.
  • Incorporate time for your child to play every day.

“Learning is a human endeavor,” Lewis says. “It takes place from one human to another and it requires your most precious commodity, time.”

Does marriage, like a good bottle of wine, really get better over time? That’s the question Dr. Paul Amato and his co-author, Spencer James, set out to answer. Amato serves as the Arnold and Bette Hoffman Emeritus Professor of Family Sociology and Demography at Pennsylvania State University. 

There’s lots of evidence that many people are cynical about marriage these days. In fact, many are choosing not to marry because they have seen so many marriages end in bitter divorces and they figure, “What’s the point of putting yourself through that?”

What if there is something we are missing from the bigger picture? Most would agree that anything worth having usually takes work, grit and a long-term view. So, are people throwing away perfectly good marriages in the earlier years because the going gets tough?

In a recent conversation with Alysse ElHage, Dr. Amato shared the findings from his research, Changes in Spousal Relationships Over the Marital Life Course.

Amato’s study was based on a unique 20-year longitudinal sample of 1,617 spouses. The study ran from 1980 to 2000. While not recent, it is the longest-running, most-detailed study of marriage available. According to Amato, there is no reason to assume that trajectories of relationship quality are different today than they were in the 1980s and 1990s.

In reviewing the data, Amato measured how three common characteristics of marital quality (happiness, shared activities and discord) changed over time. He split the sample in several ways, but the most important one separated the divorced couples from those who remained together. Amato believes this is key, because past studies have led many researchers to conclude that marital quality inevitably deteriorates over time. If you focus on couples who remain together however, which is the majority, then average levels of marital quality do not decline. In reality, marital happiness remains moderately high and marital discord lessens substantially. 

While plenty of studies have focused on the first five years of marriage, little research exists on couples who have been married for decades. Amato was very interested in focusing on the 205 long-term marriages in the study. It turns out that most of the couples who had been married 40 years or more are happy. 

One of the biggest takeaways from Amato’s study is that for some deeply-troubled marriages, divorce is the best outcome. But based on previous work, he found that many divorces are not preceded by a serious relationship problem. Sometimes boredom, rather than misery, characterizes many unstable marriages. In these cases, infidelity is often the trigger that leads one partner to leave the union. When couples stick together through difficult times, remain faithful to one another and actively work to resolve problems, positive long-term outcomes are common. 

Amato’s research shows that positive outcomes for couples in long-term marriages are the norm. And contrary to what many people think, marital quality is not destined to decline. It tends to remain high or even improve over the decades, which should encourage most couples.

The big question is, how did these couples help their marriages endure over time? Although Amato’s study didn’t measure for relationship education, previous research indicates that couples who use relationship education services tend to have better relationship quality and more stable marriages than do other couples. 

“What we can say from our study is that being happy, frequently sharing activities with your spouse, and having a peaceful marriage after 20, 30, or 40 years is quite common,” says Amato.

For couples who find themselves in a lackluster marriage, wondering if it’s worth it to stick around, Amato’s research is good news. It shows that although rough spots happen in relationships, there is hope that in many instances, nurturing a marriage can help things get better as the years go by.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

There’s a lot of talk about how to keep our hearts healthy. Eat right, exercise, take one aspirin a day, eat foods low in cholesterol, get plenty of rest, and the list goes on. Just as we have information to help us keep our heart healthy, we can also do certain things to keep relationships “heart healthy.”

Today, people are so busy with work, children, extracurricular activities and who knows what else. As a result of such a busy lifestyle, family relationships can suffer.

In order to build healthy relationships, you must be intentional and committed.

Heart healthy relationships have certain characteristics, including:

  • Humor – Appropriate humor can help defuse a potentially volatile situation. People say that laughter is good for the soul, but guess what? It’s also good for relationships!

  • Appropriate Expectations – Many people have unrealistic expectations of their mate and their children. Pushing children to excel, stressful jobs, competitive sports and life in general are part of the problem. Learn to keep things in perspective and ask, “What is important in the long run?” The answer can help shed light on what really matters in life. Most would agree that the relationship between child, parent or spouse is much more important than straight A’s or a spotless house.

  • Appreciation – Sometimes people are so busy “doing” life that they fail to appreciate the people they care about the most. When is the last time you sent a card to a friend for no reason? Or told your spouse you how much you appreciate all he/she does for your marriage and family – without adding, “I only wish…”? Have you ever let your child know you are honored to be their parent?

  • Respect – Experts suggest that you never second-guess your spouse in front of the children or anyone else. If you want your children to learn how to treat others with respect, model it for them. That means talking to each other appropriately and not talking badly about your spouse to a third party. Try asking, “Does what I am about to do or say build up this person or tear them down?”

  • Spending time wisely – How do you spend it? If you knew you didn’t have much time left, would you start spending your time differently? If the answer to that question is yes, now may be a good time for you to examine your priorities. Heart healthy relationships happen when people spend time together connecting on a consistent basis.

A line in a Garth Brooks song says, “If tomorrow never comes, will she know how much I loved her?” Do the people in your life know how much you care? Do your children know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you love them – not the grades they bring home?

If your relationships are not where you want them to be, you can still do something different.

Having heart healthy relationships is about loving the people in your world – your mate, elderly neighbor, your children, parents, etc. Be intentional. Try practicing one characteristic from the list above today. When you put your head down on the pillow, your heart will probably feel better because you did.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Tired of the so-so communication in your marriage? 

Check out this hefty DIGITAL E-BOOK by Marriage Researchers & Therapists

Inside, you’ll find:

  • How and why you and your spouse communicate differently, and what to do about it
  • 5 proven listening techniques that will pump up the intimacy in your relationship
  • 4 ways to start and end difficult conversations well
  • 5 ways you may be hindering communication with your spouse without realizing it
  • AND MORE!

PLUS! Every section has an easy, no-stress discussion guide created for you and your partner to build the communication you want in your marriage.

Thanksgiving a month early?? But why??? Well. My oldest son is now a college freshman… and the cost of travel (as well as his school schedule) made it impossible for us to celebrate Thanksgiving on the traditional 4th Thursday of November.

I’ve taught families through our parenting classes at First Things First for almost 10 years now, which means I’ve talked to thousands of people about the importance of creating new family traditions. This year, I actually had to put my money where my mouth was. I cleaned and shopped like it was nobody’s business, about a month ahead of everyone else! I may have spent a little more on food items, but I didn’t have to deal with the crowded conditions of grocery stores.

The weekend of our early celebration was also my Big Guy’s first visit home since we took him to college in NYC. I should have remembered that “the best-laid plans of Mice and Men go astray” because I was anxiously anticipating his arrival and, of course, his plane was delayed 2 hours.

I was looking forward to spending time with him and attending the regular Friday night football game at his alma mater. He reminded me that he wanted to play with the band for old times’ sake, so I had to take him to practice an hour and a half before the game. I saw him for a bit his first night home, from afar.

The next morning, I made plans for us to have a big breakfast and for me to send all my fellas (husband and 3 boys) off to experience the Vol Walk and Homecoming at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Well, remember that best-laid plans statement I mentioned earlier? Big Guy had a paper due on Saturday by 6PM, so there was no opportunity for male bonding. And I spent the entire day cleaning and prepping the meal for Sunday – which included turkey and all the traditional Southern fixings.

Finally, the morning of our big Thanksgiving celebration arrived. Friends and family filled our home and we had A BALL. We talked, laughed and enjoyed each other’s company. When it was over, I was mega-tired, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

I still celebrated Thanksgiving with my whole family.

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.

 ***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***