Get Your Date Night On

Get Your Date Night OnA recent study sponsored by The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia reported that married couples who had one-on-one couple time at least once a week were over three times more likely to report being very happy in their marriages, highly satisfied with sex, and highly satisfied with communication. Is that how your friends rate their marriages? How about you? With local divorce rates exceeding 60 percent, having a regular date night might be just what your relationship needs.

Relational by design
God has created us as relational beings. In Genesis 2:18, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” He wired us with a longing to be connected to both him and each other. He created a special union for marriage that Jesus warned us not to tear apart (Matthew 19:6). Science provides evidence of this supernatural union in the form of oxytocin, a hormone that the body releases during sex that creates this bond. Some call it relational superglue.
Marriage is so special to God that he uses it to describe the relationship he desires to have with his church. In Ephesians 5:25-28, Paul teaches that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. When you consider that Jesus died for the church, it proves the depth of his love for us, and what he expects us to model in our marriages.

Love drugs
For several years after couples begin to date, the body produces a number of hormones which are among the most addictive drugs known to mankind. Being in love is effectively a drug-induced state of euphoria. These hormones cause increased heart rates, sweating, distractedness and a general sense of well-being. During this time, women laugh at all their guys’ jokes and guys gaze into their lovers’ eyes for hours on end.

After about three years, the body slows its production of these chemicals and the euphoria that carried couples through the romance is replaced with the realities and stresses of daily life. They get busy with cooking, cleaning, mowing and bill paying. If a couple do not pay attention to their relationship, they can go from happily pursing love to resentfully expecting it; and can end up headed for divorce. Not surprisingly, the highest incidence of divorce is around the four to five-year mark.

Stay connected
Holding hands is a picture of the connection that develops between a man and wife. It symbolizes the bond that Jesus commands not to be torn apart (Matthew 19:6).

Many couples make the mistake of letting go of each other when they have kids in order to hold on to the child. As long as the child is at home, they are still connected. When the child leaves the nest, their connection is gone. It is no surprise that empty nest leads to the second greatest incidence of divorce.

To avoid this, couples must maintain their direct connection. Instead of letting go, they reach out to love the child with their free hand. Now when the child leaves the nest, their bond is still intact. This is what leads to couples reporting that they are very happy and highly satisfied in their relationships.

Why date nights?
The National Marriage Project report outlined five ways date nights strengthen couples. They report that date nights:

• Deepen understanding through communication.

• Increase relationship quality through novel activities.

• “Rekindle the romantic spark” needed to keep the fires going.

• Foster the feeling of “us” and deepen marital commitment.

• Relieve stress.

Money doesn’t matter
Many couples use the excuse that going out costs too much. With dinner, a movie, and a babysitter it can cost a hundred dollars. However there are healthier and cheaper ideas that can mean so much more.
To solve the babysitting problem, trade date nights with other parents or get a co-op or date night program going at your church.

As for cheap dates, they are limited only by your imagination or your internet search abilities. Some websites offer date night deals for cheap meals or events. Consider these date night ideas:

• Go to the beach with a blanket and trade dreams under the stars.

• Do a scavenger hunt leaving a trail of clues to a great romantic surprise.

• Reenact your first date.

• Visit a park, each of you picking one activity.

• Take a set amount of money, split it and then head to a shopping area. Decide on a rendezvous time and place, and go find the most romantic gift for the other.

• Volunteer to feed dinner to the homeless at a shelter.

• Send the kids to school and then spend the day together at home playing board games.

Remember, it’s not the money you spend on your date; it’s the love and attention you invest in your marriage. Get your date night on!

Patricia (Trisha) Hartman is a forensic CPA who works with clients going through divorce. She volunteers for Live the Life Ministries, dedicated to strengthening marriages and families. She is also an author and speaker. She can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter at @TrishaHartman.

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