21 February 2012

Date Night: Finding Your Bliss

A friend of mine recently asked me to teach a class about date nights at a Relief Society meeting. I've posted a few times about the date nights Chad and I go on each week (My Good Knight ~ Salon Date ~ Tickled Pink!). But what kinds of tips should I share with this group of women?

I Wish You Were Here

Perhaps some ground rules would be a good place to start.

  • Be courteous and cheerful. Fake if you have to and remember that your spouse invested their time in planning the date and you should be considerate of that effort.
  • Invite your spouse to the date... even if you go every week.
  • Only postpone your date for a true emergency. (Let's face it, with a house full of boys this has happened to us on more than one occasion.)
  • Choose dates that will be fun for both of you.
  • Share your plans (or at least appropriate attire guidelines) with your spouse in advance.
  • Grooming counts. You don't have to dress up fancy if you don't want to, or if the destination is not appropriate for such attire, but make an effort to look your best just like you did for the dates you had before you were married.
  • Take turns planning your date nights.
  • Identify any "taboo topics" that should not be discussed during date night. This is to help keep your evening focused on fun and romance, rather than life's challenges. Common taboo topics for us have been children, finances, schedules and appointments.
  • Electronics etiquette ... only answer your cell phone if the kids are calling, otherwise you can survive an evening without texting, calling, or being otherwise "plugged in" if it isn't related to the date you're sharing with your spouse.
  • No children allowed. (Exceptions: infant less than 3 months old, double dating with your teenagers)
  • Make it memorable as often as possible. (Don't worry. I'll share some resources for creative and memorable date nights that you can customize for your relationship.)

Now, what exactly constitutes a date night to you? Spend some time talking with your spouse to figure this out. I remember when a brief period of time outside of the house, without kids, and he held the doors open for me constituted a date... even if it was just running an errand to the hardware store. What are your expectations? I know for us, the types of dates have kind of morphed over time, based on the ages and stages of our children.

"Date frequently. You and your spouse need time together to renew your relationship. New perspectives come with time away from the mundane. That means dating is essential. If you have children but few resources, look for creative ways to go on dates. For example, you might ask in-laws or neighbors to watch your children while you two get away for a mini vacation. You might exchange childcare with other couples for different date nights. Above all, recognize that a babysitter is cheaper than a divorce" (from What Happily Married Couples Do, Ensign, January 2012).

Dating and Children
Dating gets a little more complicated when there are children involved. With some careful planning, you can still make dating a regular part of your week.

"In the beginning it was easy for us to spend an evening together because we had no children to worry about. However, when our children began to come one after another, we had to devise new ways to date each other. Because finding a night-time baby-sitter is difficult, we have had many dates at home after the children are in bed. These home dates are in no way inferior to those we occasionally have outside the home. We have found a number of activities we enjoy doing together. Sometimes we watch a videocassette while munching snacks and sipping soft drinks, just as we would at the movies. Other nights we play computer or board games. Our evenings spent in these activities always end with laughter. One regular activity is to put together our family photographs on a large poster. Later we send the finished poster for framing and hang it on our stairway wall. We now have quite a few posters, so we rotate them from time to time. Evenings spent making posters are not only fruitful but also bring warm and sentimental feelings to our hearts. One Valentine’s Day I prepared a candlelit dinner for two. With soft music in the background, the atmosphere was truly romantic. Our list of activities for home dates continues to grow. We have found that dating each other is about finding ways to spend time together and about taking time to build and nourish each other. When days are difficult and challenging, I look forward to our home dates when we can just spend time together talking. Dating each other regularly puts romance back into our marriage" (from Dating at Home by Geok Lee Thong, 1998).

I've mentioned Grandates before. This is when your parents or in-laws have planned to spend time with your children when you're not around. They get to work on the grandparent-grandchild relationship during their date while you strengthen your marriage relationship by going out on a date with your spouse. It's a total win-win situation in my mind. This could also work with extended family like your own siblings if they happen to live nearby. We've also had Family Dates when our gentlemen got to plan a date with their brothers in the living room (generally involving games or a movie and some special treats), while we had our date in the den with the door shut. We were close enough to hear any rising ruckus that might need our attention, but removed enough that we could enjoy our time together and there was no babysitter required. Eventually our guys grew old enough to be the babysitters and are now old enough to take care of themselves. Even now they continue to enjoy brother bonding nights together, with the mix of brothers changing depending on their schedules and other time commitments. Sitter Swaps can also allow you a little more dating freedom. Ask your friends who also have little ones at home to trade babysitting time with you. Perhaps you can date on Friday night and they date on Saturday or you trade off weeks, but the idea is that they watch your kids while you date and then you watch their children while they date.

Budget Constraints
How can you have a wonderful date without breaking the bank? You have plenty of options! There are always things you can do for free, such as giving service, visiting the library or a book store, hiking/biking/walking at a park, attending school concerts and sporting events, window shopping, travel planning/wishing, designing your dream home, etc. Low cost options include visiting an art gallery or museum, teach each other something new, take a class together to learn a new skill (cooking, dancing, painting, drawing, cake decorating, motorcycle riding), target practice, feeding the ducks, picnic in the park, etc. You can turn regular tasks into date nights like when Chad took me to the salon to get my hair cut and colored. We've also gotten massages or pedicures together as part of our date night. If you like to eat out but don't want to spend a lot of money, consider going out just for appetizers or only for dessert rather than an entire meal. You also might trade dinner service with another couple where you act as the chef and servers for their meal at your house and another night they treat you to dinner at their house... or find a couple of teenagers you trust to make you dinner in your own home.


Idea List: Great Group Dates
Group Dating
Tin Can Date
Make a Great Date
Creative Dating Ideas for Married Couples
50 Dating Ideas for Married Couples
Great Date Ideas
My personal favorite place to look for ideas is the Dating Divas website!

As you date your spouse and really invest in your relationship, you will find your bliss in those moments you spend together… supreme happiness; utter joy or contentment; wedded bliss. Happy dating!

1 comment:

Krista said...

You did an amazing job teaching that class! You have wonderful ideas that I hope to impliment in my own date night routine.

If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart!

If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart!