Think over your last month (I know…that’s a lot to remember) and ask yourself how often you’ve said, “I don’t have time for that.”
Unfortunately, I’ve thought that and said it a LOT over the last several weeks…and months…and years. You might even call it my catchphrase. 😂
Sadly, that’s not really something that any of us should brag about. It’s actually just a picture of how busy we allow ourselves to be. I really don’t believe that’s how we should live. Even God rested on the seventh day.
Back in Grad school, I was taught an important lesson about working with couples. Getting couples to take time for a date night is one of the priority tasks of a counselor. Luckily, date night didn’t have to be a huge deal. What mattered most is that a couple chooses to do something that feels like an actual date. Please remember that little factoid when you get to the date ideas at the end of this little blog.
So, why would you guess that therapists are taught to encourage date night?
If you said it’s because couples don’t have enough dates, you’re 100% right. In fact, when struggling couples start working on their relationship, they often can’t even remember the last time that they had a date. Or, they may have really unsuccessful dates when they try. If that’s you, I’ve got some tips to make date night a little bit better. Whatever your situation though, it’s important to remember this: once you catch your mate, you still need to date. (Now, that’s a catchphrase. Share it far and wide!)
I want to introduce you to a term I heard recently and throw out my theory of how it shows up in marriage. That term is “time anxiety.” I’m showing my age here, but I can totally hear PeeWee Herman saying, “Ok kids, every time you hear the word ‘time anxiety’…”
Time anxiety is the feeling you have when you believe that time is slipping away and that there’s just not enough hours in the day to do “all the things” that you need to do. Sound familiar?
Typically, when people talk about time anxiety, they also spend a bit of time talking about a deep need for productivity because time anxiety and productivity are basically cousins. No doubt, we certainly live in a world where productivity is praised in people (especially in the good ol’ US of A). But, I’ve often seen that productivity can be the enemy of a couple that are trying to find time to relax together and to enjoy each other. Time anxiety in light of your marriage means that instead of focusing on time together as a couple, you focus on the things that give you success in general, maybe even with the hope that one day your success will mean vacations or early retirement .
Those things really do matter by the way.
Who doesn’t love a little vaca or the thought of spending your retirement doing what you want to do instead of what you have to do. Sign me up! The problem though, is that for some couples, they can be so focused on the future vacations that they forget the very present need for connection in the here and now.
Please believe me when I say that you don’t want to wait until things are bad in your marriage, or until you retire to enjoy some time together. Here’s a scary fact: many couples will have problems for five years or more before they seek help and oftentimes, one of the spouses believes that they have been asking for more connection for years before things got so unstable.
Consider the rest of this your “prevention plan” for an unhappy or disconnected marriage.
I know for sure that no matter how busy you are, you absolutely can learn to optimize your time so that you focus on what’s really important; your sugarbear, honeybun, main squeeze, or whatever cutesy pet name you call your spouse.
I’ve got some date ideas for you right here that don’t take a lot of time and are not too “pressure to perform” heavy. In other words, they’re dates that you can enjoy even if it’s been a while since you’ve felt very connected.
These are not all my ideas. I used to run a group on Fb and my peeps there gave me several ideas that I wrote down and saved just for a blog like this that I knew I’d eventually write-up. Let’s give a big round of applause for those that paved the road for your dating bliss. 👏 👏 👏 (BTW, I’m not on Fb anymore, but I still do community here.)
In home date after the kids are asleep
Here’s a popular one that doesn’t require a ton of energy or time. My husband and I have pretty busy schedules and by the end of the day we’re typically more than a little worn out. So, an ‘at home’ date is definitely a favorite of ours. For us, this means a trip to the grocery store (not necessarily together) for some snacks and some take-out. You do you though. Get some snacks, or food, or a beverage you love and have some down time at home. To make it different than “just any old night” watch a movie instead of TV, or try a new show, or maybe even forgo the TV time all together and just chat with one another.
Here’s old faithful for you. While it requires more energy than a night at home, you can definitely get a sitter for a couple of hours and drive somewhere close for a quick meal. Make sure that when you do spend this time together that you intentionally connect on a heart level. Ask “where are we on a scale of 1-10” as a little check-in on your marriage and also ask how you can move up that scale just a tad. Make a plan for ONE thing only that you can do to connect a little more within the following week and then make sure that you follow through on it.
Work Day Lunch Date
A lunch date used to basically mean that you’re in “the friend zone,” but in marriage a mid-day date is sometimes the only way that you can spend some time together and force a little bit of a break in your day. Consider this hour your VIP hour and make sure you can have your date with no interruptions. This is especially important since you likely only have one hour if it’s during your work day.
Drive out of the city limits and star gaze
Sometimes a lack of funds can make dating really difficult. Luckily, there are ways to spend very little and still have some romance. If you don’t feel like taking a drive first, you could also choose to have a candle-lit living room while you hang out on the couch talking. This time will give you both the opportunity to just enjoy each other’s company. You can combine this with a board game or card game if you’d like a more active date than just sitting and talking. I’ve heard really good things about The Hygge Game lately.
Make a meal together
If you have time, making a meal together can be a fun and romantic way to spend an evening together. If time is short, you can also make a dessert together instead of a full meal. And, if you’re not a baker, a box cake or brownies totally counts! The idea is just to do an activity together that’s enough out of your norm that it feels special. By that measure, even a tasty treat from a bakery can serve the same purpose. #cupcakesarelife
All in all, if you’re looking to reconnect with one another, do something that’s outside of your normal schedule. The break in routine is what makes the activity feel like a date or a time of connection and closeness. It doesn’t take a huge change from the routine, but it does take actions that show your spouse their position as number one in your life.
I’d love to hear from you. What’s your number one date idea for you and your spouse?