A while back a friend came up to me at church and said he had some receipts for me to reimburse. I looked at him like, “What are you talking about?” and he said, “You know — babysitting receipts. You said you’d cover the babysitting if I’d start taking my wife out on dates.” I laughed and said “Okay. Sure.”

A couple of weeks earlier they had been at our home for a get together for a bunch of new couples in our ward. In the course of introductions it came up that I was a marriage educator and that I was a big proponent of a weekly date night. He responded in a teasing way, “Oh sure. If you pay for the babysitter maybe we’d consider going out on dates more often.” That is when I had said he could send me the bill for their babysitting expenses.

Apparently he is pretty serious about it, because he has also reminded my husband that he’s now racking up babysitter expenses to give me. I guess I need to remind him that a babysitter costs a lot less than a marriage counselor, or a divorce, for that matter.

Necessity of Date Night

Many years ago as a relatively new mom, I heard a woman extolling the virtues of a regular date night. With two little children under the age of three and not much money I thought, “Sure. That’s easy for you to say!” I have since learned for myself the necessity of a regular date night, and
I hope to not only encourage you to make it a regular part of your marriage, but also to have you encourage others to do so as well.

Many couples find themselves falling out of love and falling into dangerous territory. It’s pretty difficult to fall out of love when you are spending regular amounts of fun and positive time together with each other. Date night keeps the good times in marriage in better balance with the difficult times. Date night is a proactive way to continually create good times!

There was a time in my life when Friday night date night was the literal light at the end of my tunnel each week. I knew I could make it through one more day, because Friday was almost here. I don’t know how I would have survived those years without that to look forward to.

Date night would sweep me away into another world — a world where I looked and felt like something someone would actually want to date, instead of the scary looking person that just tried to keep her head above water throughout the day with little ones running her ragged.

Date Night Puts the Sparkle Back

Date night gave me a chance to remember that I was a wife and not just an all-consumed mother. Date night put a sparkle back into my eyes and into my soul. It continues to be something I look forward to every single week.

Date night helps me remember those wonderful feelings of our courtship days. (Hey, guys, don’t forget to open her doors. And gals, don’t forget to let him — even if you have to sit there and wait for a moment or two to retrain him!) Keeping those feelings of love alive is the opportunity and the responsibility of every husband and wife.

Marriages Need to be Nourished

Sometimes we forget that a marriage needs to be nourished. We can’t just stop doing all the things we used to do when we were courting and expect our marriage to stay vibrant. Our marriage needs constant nourishment emotionally, spiritually and sexually.

The emotional intimacy and connection that grows through regular date nights is the fuel that makes both husband and wife feel loved, cherished and desirable. Date night is not optional for those couples who want to stay close and connected.

Marriage Time and Family Time

For many people, Monday night is sacred for families. I hope I live to see the day that Friday or Saturday night becomes as sacred for “marriage night” as Monday is for “family night.”

The root of a strong family is a strong marriage where couples make each other a priority. Marriage time is different from family time, so be sure that a portion of family time in your home is reserved for your marriage.

In our home, Friday night is reserved for date night (with Saturday night as a backup). Our kids look forward to our date night almost as much as we do. They just know that we will be out one night each weekend, and will even remind us if necessary.

Date Night and Emotional Foreplay

Date night builds the emotional connection between husband and wife. This is an important component of emotional foreplay, which many women need in order to feel close to their husbands. This emotional closeness makes it easier for women to move from feeling emotionally intimate to wanting to be physically intimate.

But men, please try not to start doing this date night thing with “strings attached,” or you may be disappointed. Having strings attached has a way of undoing the positives of a great date night. Nobody wants to feel as though he or she is being “wined and dined” because of something that is expected in return. Just enjoy each other and focus on building your friendship. Let the rest take care of itself!

Just Enjoy Each Other

Whether your date nights are actually an evening dinner date, or a lunch date each week, or even just time spent together after the kids are in bed — this time is sacred time. Some of my favorite dates were when we would put our little ones to bed a little early and read and discuss a book or an article together.

Other times, I’d take the little book 365 Questions for Couples (by Michael J. Beck) with us, and we’d ask each other questions like, “What is your greatest fear?” or “What is your greatest hope?” or “What are your best characteristics?” — just to keep learning more about each other.

Whatever you decide to do on your dates, just enjoy each other and look for anything you may have forgotten about why you dated and fell in love with each other in the first place.

Three Key Activities for Happy Marriages

If I had to choose three things that were the key activities for those who want a strong and happy marriage relationship I would choose the following:

  1. Weekly date night
  2. Nightly couple prayers
  3. Regular lovemaking

Decide to make your marriage the best it can be by including these activities into your life. And remember that date night is not optional! Maybe someday I’ll even create some kind of a “Date Night Babysitter Reimbursement Fund” to help couples make dating a higher priority!

See you later! It’s date night!

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Laura M. Brotherson, CFLE, is a wife, mother, intimacy educator, and the author of a groundbreaking book on sexual intimacy and marital ONEness entitled “And They Were Not Ashamed — Strengthening Marriage through Sexual Fulfillment.” She is co-founder, with her husband, of Strengthening Marriage, Inc., and creator of www.StrengtheningMarriage.com. Visit “Laura’s Marriage Strengthening Blog” at http://www.strengtheningmarriage.com/blog/ for more marriage strengthening insights.

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