We’ve all heard about the importance of consistent dates with our spouse. It sounds ideal—a romantic date every week—but there are a thousand reasons why it feels difficult (if not impossible) to make happen.
Here are five reasons to avoid date night. Oh, and why you should date your spouse anyway.
1. “Dating Is Too Expensive”
If you’re talking about the versions of dating that pop up on social media and TV, then, yes, you’re probably right. Expensive restaurants, Broadway shows, sparkling jewelry—most of us would be thrilled if we got a date like this with our spouse once a year, or even once a decade. Because those kinds of dates, with the wining and dining and trying to impress each other all the time, aren’t feasible for most of us.
But there is something that is feasible: connection. Connection comes not through the amount of money spent, but the amount of heart invested. Some of the best dates my husband and I have had took place during walks at the local arboretum. Strolling on the paths, we had time to unfold our hearts to one another and to enjoy holding hands in a lovely setting.
Now that we have a child, if we want to have any meaningful connection, it usually has to take place after she’s asleep or when we’re out and she’s with a babysitter. We try to have a date night out at least once a month. If we’re paying for a babysitter, our date is usually cheap (or free). We go for walks in the park, have coffee at a local café, or read part of a book together at the library. Make a list of cheap date night ideas with your spouse and pick one!
If money is really tight and there’s no option for paying a babysitter, consider swapping childcare with friends. You can also get creative with at-home dates. Turn your phones off and cook a late meal together after the kids go down. Watch a unique film you’re both interested in, and if you are so inclined, talk about it afterwards. Get competitive with a card game. Relax with a new flavor of ice cream bought especially for date night. What you do doesn’t matter as much as the choice you make to invest your time and attention in one another.
2. “I Don’t Have Time”
If you let other people control your calendar, then, yes, you’re probably right. There’s always going to be one more meeting, project, or sports practice that you—or one of your kids—has to be at. But ask yourself this: Would you ignore your boss’s requests for that project deadline as easily as you might ignore your marriage’s need for connection time? Would you ignore your child’s query for dinner as easily as you can ignore your spouse’s (or your own) need to talk?
We make time for what we value. If you value your marriage and the person you made a covenant at the altar to love, you need to make time for your spouse.
Prior to marriage, many of us had months—perhaps even years—of lavishing time upon one another. Dates stretched into hours upon hours of conversation and laughter. We prioritized our significant other above other relationships and our time bent toward him accordingly. While we may not have time for hours-long dates any more, we can make intentional time for one another if we really want to. We can say no to another meeting, no to another sports team, and no to another obligation. And in the process, we can say yes to a standing date with our spouse on Tuesday nights or Friday mornings or Sunday afternoons—no excuses. Just as no friendship is sustainable without consistent connection, no marriage will thrive without consistent time together.
When you put a consistent date night on the calendar, you’re telling your spouse that you value your relationship above all others. It’s worth it.
3. “My Marriage Is Beyond Help”
If your marriage is in a difficult place, sometimes the thought of spending intentional time together feels confusing—or even painful. The idea of a night full of forced conversation (or lackluster intimacy) may not be your idea of a good time. But if a marriage is going to heal, connection has to start somewhere. And dates don’t always have to be fun to be meaningful. Sometimes working through deep issues on a date night is just as important as laughing together.
Perhaps your date nights don’t look like a cozy evening on the couch or a hand-holding walk through the park. Where can you start? Might a meal together outside of the home provide an opportunity for conversation that doesn’t revolve around the kids or work? Could a morning jog together offer a chance to connect in a different—and still meaningful—way? Would you be able to attend a Bible study or small group together?
If all of this still feels too hard, it might be that your dates need to be at a counselor’s office, where you can work through pain in a safe environment. The point of a “date” is to get closer to your spouse. Don’t assume that dating your spouse has to look one particular way. Start where you are, and move forward from there.
4. “My Kids Need Me, So I Can’t Leave Them”
Despite what you may think, your children don’t actually need you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A babysitter is usually a fine stand-in for a few hours. So is a family member—even an older, competent sibling.
What your kids need more than parents who are involved in every single part of their lives are parents who are committed to their marriage. Children need to see that their parents are still in love, and that their marriage relationship is central to rhythms of family life. God set up the marriage relationship to come before children—and that pattern of “spouse before kids” should still continue once babies come along. If the parents aren’t connected, there will be friction in the home, and that’s not healthy for anyone. For children, the security of knowing their mom and dad are committed to one another is worth a lifetime of Tuesday-night babysitters.
5. “I’m Too Tired”
If you’re too tired to watch your favorite TV show, check social media accounts on your phone, brush your teeth, or walk up the stairs, then yes, you probably are too tired. But if you’re just experiencing the general malaise that comes from working and raising children and being an adult, then you have the energy (low as it may be) to date your spouse.
Dates don’t need to be anything enormously fancy (although a fancy date once in a while is a great idea!) in order to happen. Slipping on a pair of jeans—or a nice dress—and mustering up the energy to enjoy time with your spouse speaks volumes to him about how highly you value your marriage. Take turns watching the kids for a few minutes so that you both can get ready and feel prepared—internally and externally—for a date together. If you need to, one of you throw a frozen pizza in the oven before leaving so neither of you are exhausted from making dinner.
Guard your energy on days when you’ll be intentionally investing in your marriage, and ask the Lord for supernatural strength to engage with your husband when you do get time together.
God is for our marriages, and he wants to give us all that we need to thrive and grow as wives. With his help—and some thoughtful planning and improvising—we can continue to date our spouses consistently and meaningfully, every month of the year. Don’t worry about dating perfectly because there is no such thing. And most of all, remember to continue to “love each other deeply, for love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). May you center your dates, your efforts, and your marriage on the love and grace that God gives to each of us!