Our time is limited and we have a whole lot of excuses! We can’t find a babysitter, our schedules are way too busy and our budget is tight. Still, date nights are not negotiable, says those who know.

Do you feel like you are always busy? Guess what – everyone does. Life is hectic! There is not even enough time to meet all our daily obligations, not to mention the pleasures of romantic evenings out or late morning sex… And if you think you are busy, can you imagine a Hollywood celebrity’s diary? But Chrissy Teigen and her husband, John Legend, make time to ensure that they have date nights. And if they can do it… well…

When was the last time you had a real date night? When last did you switch of your cell phones and tablets to spend time with each other?

“Date night is so important. In fact, it is critical,” says psychologist and relationship expert, Melanie Schilling in Australia’s The Huffington Post.

She believes that couples who have one screen-free evening just once every two weeks, are happy. It doesn’t have to be a fancy affair and it doesn’t have to include any of the romantic cliches. But it is so easy to take your partner for granted – one of the most dangerous territories for a relationship.

According to a study by The Marriage Foundation, couples who have a monthly date night, have a 14% smaller chance of breaking up than couples who don’t.

When you leave date night for “when we get time” or say “we will plan something closer to the time”, the chance that it will realize is very small. There is a saying: “You don’t succeed to the level of your goals, you fail to the level of your systems.”

Therefore, make date night part of a system. Put a solid plan and structure in place to ensure that date night happens – no matter what! To achieve a goal the goal must meet five requirements:

  • It must be specific.
  • It must be measurable.
  • It must be agreed upon.
  • It must be realistic.
  • It must be time-based.

Avoid phrases like: “We’ll have a date night later this week.” Rather say: “Let’s go to Burger King on Wednesday at six-o-clock and go and watch a movie at the Mall afterwards.” Make sure that you are on the same page and if it feels like you are aiming to high, adjust your plans to be more feasible.

4 Reasons why you should do date night

  1. It enhances communication.

There are so many things that demand your attention every day, that date night becomes essential. You have to keep getting to know each other. However, keep date night as light-hearted and positive as possible.

  1. It is an opportunity to relax and take a break from daily stress.

Couples often feel guilty when putting their own needs above those of the children, but every couple deserves to take a night off every now and then, without worrying about household chores. It is good to sometimes put the bills and difficult decisions aside and just have fun.

  1. It is a reminder of why you fell in love with each other.

If you don’t go on a regular date night, you might forget to focus on each other’s good qualities. One-on-one time can serve as a reminder of how things were before the kids arrived.

  1. It builds commitment.

The more good memories you create, the stronger foundation you have when going through a difficult time. Date nights are a good way to create “love reserves”. Being serious about date night shows your partner that you are serious about your relationship.

4 Types of date nights

  1. Combine a common interest.

If you both love history, plan an evening to research your family history together. If you both like exercise, go jogging together at least once a week.

  1. Be adventurous.

Do something that neither of you have ever done before. Move outside your comfort zone and do something that falls outside your normal framework. If you normally prefer a traditional home-cooked meal, then maybe it is time to try out Japanese cuisine.

  1. Have another “first date”.

The longer you are married, the more you become used to each other. Later on, it doesn’t feel like there is anything you don’t know about each other – but there is! Make this date night one where you get to know each other again. Do it interview-style, complete a questionnaire or do a personality test.

  1. Be romantic.

When planning a date night, think about all the facets that you desire in your marriage. Every date night doesn’t have to be romantic, but it is important to focus on romance every now and then to bring the butterflies back.

4 Systems to get in place every month

  1. The calendar.

Date nights are non-negotiable. View them as very important meetings that happen after hours. Get together and schedule time in your diaries for date night once a week. These dates can only be moved in extreme circumstances.

  1. A plan for the kids.

If you have kids, planning their care is a priority. Get someone that you can trust with your kids. If you have to use the neighbor’s sixteen-year-old out of desperation at the last minute, you might be so worried that you won’t enjoy your night out anyway.

  1. Who will plan the details?

If there isn’t a designated person responsible for planning date night, it won’t happen. If both wait for the other partner to do the planning, it will result in misunderstandings, half-baked plans and date nights that simply do not happen. For each date night scheduled, the planner’s name must be noted. Take turns, otherwise the one partner will feel as if the initiative is just coming from one side.

  1. The budget.

Date nights do not have to cost a fortune – it is, however, super important that you consider it a priority – so much so that you don’t neglect it. Set up a budget at the beginning of the month and decide how much can be spent on each respective date night. You can either divide it up equally, or plan for two cheaper and two more expensive date nights.

4 Places of inspiration

  1. Something old.

Borrow inspiration from earlier times. Older people didn’t have Pinterest and had to think creatively. They focused on old world charm and manners (such as opening the car door for a lady). If you don’t know much about this, ask people that are older than you.

  1. Something new.

This is where Pinterest comes in handy. Use the available technology to your advantage and don’t underestimate the value of Über, Booking.com and Cheapfligths.

  1. Something borrowed.

Chat to your friends or colleagues to get original ideas for date night. Borrow ideas from movies. Use phrases from songs and poems to woo your partner and google for ideas on chat sites.

  1. Something NOT blue.

Think red! Think passion! Think romance! Think sexy!

4 Don’ts for the planner

  1. DON’T plan a date night only one of you will enjoy.

Yes, it might happen that your date is scheduled on a day when “Your Team” plays rugby, but your wife might not appreciate a night out at the local rugby stadium just because you don’t want to miss the game.

  1. DON’T just go out for dinner.

Dinner can be part of date night, but there must be something extra. Dinner is the easy part. If, however, you choose this as the main event, then opt for an exotic restaurant.

  1. DON’T underestimate the value of catching a hint.

If you listen carefully to your partner’s comments, those will tell you exactly what he/she would like. Especially when they mention: “We must definitely do that someday!”. When you hear something like that, make a note on your phone’s Notes app.

  1. DON’T choose a child-friendly venue.

This is the one chance you have to go to a place without an age restriction. Watch the movie with the highest age restriction, sleep in hotels where children aren’t allowed and eat at restaurants with real white linen napkins (and without the waiters singing Happy Birthday).

4 Rules for date night

  1. You’re not allowed to talk about the kids.

Yes, we know you want to discuss little Ben’s new tooth (it is after all what your life at home revolve around at the moment), but restrain yourself. You had a life before little Ben and will have one after he leaves home one day.

  1. Tough issues are off the table.

Date night is not the time for serious discussions or marriage therapy. It is not the time to raise your frustration or to dig up old dirt. It is a time to get to know each other intimately and have fun together.

  1. Date night is only for you two.

It doesn’t include anyone else. Not even your best friends who are also having a date night and happen to arrive at the same restaurant. Date night is your time exclusively and other people aren’t welcome.

  1. Don’t put too much pressure on your partner.

Don’t expect too much but keep it realistic. Don’t expect your spouse to go into debt so that you can have a spectacular date night. And don’t get angry if your partner is not emotionally in the same place as you are that night.

Additional sources: www.gq.com; www.thechaosandtheclutter.com; www.nestingstory.ca