Over the past few months our date nights have become much richer. We almost always end the night feeling closer than before we started, and more eager to have another night out together than we used to. We’ve learned that anything that gets us talking – and listening – to each other is sure to result in us feeling more connected. I started reflecting on the best date nights we’ve had and I realized that along with building in opportunities for conversation, there were other factors that helped us feel more connected when the date was over, and that most of them actually took place well before the date night even began.
I cannot tell you how much I’ve struggled with this (and still do). Unmet expectations are like death to a date night. For example, I spent years thinking that if Jay wanted to spend time with me then he’d contact the babysitter and plan out a night. You can guess how often that happened – at the end of the day he wasn’t thinking about anything but relaxing on the couch with me. Now, if I want a night out with my man, I book the babysitter. Jay is just as happy to be out with me regardless of who planned the night, and when there’s a special occasion he’s ready to take over the planning so that I still feel special and loved.
Dressing a certain way is another expectation we needed to let go of. Date night doesn’t have to mean dressing up to the nines, unless the night’s activities call for it (which also is an expectation that we needed to let go of, and why we started enhancing at-home date nights). Don’t expect your significant other to put on that sports jacket or those high heels just because you’re going out. Yes, going out should always feel special, but you should also be able to enjoy each other’s company without the frills. Expecting each other to look a certain way means that you are putting your wants before theirs, and that means you’re entering the date thinking more about yourself than your significant other. Trust me, that’s usually not a great way to kick things off. The best date nights will occur when both parties are accepted and appreciated (and visually enjoyed) just for being themselves.
One of the most effective ways to sabotage a date night is to enter without any sort of plan. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve walked out of our house, sat in the car, and spent 15 minutes in the driveway just trying to figure out where we want to eat and what we’re going to do after dinner. Sometimes we spend another 15 minutes at dinner looking up movie times on our phones, only to decide not to see a movie at all. For us, indecisiveness opens the door for frustration: “Just pick a place to eat already!” One of us inevitably settles for something we really didn’t want just to make the other happy, and things just won’t be quite the same after that. Now, I’m not saying you have to plan out every detail – there’s definitely something romantic about spontaneity – but at least have a short list to work from. We try to get at least a general sense of what we’d like to do and usually we’ll choose the restaurant in advance. That way, even if we haven’t planned anything else we can at least head to the restaurant and talk about the rest of the evening there.
Part of planning ahead for us also means what we want to talk about. Obviously you want conversation to flow as naturally as possible, but sometimes you get stuck in a rut and revert to always talking about work or the kids. That’s why we like to have something conversation-stimulating planned, whether it’s a silly game or simply saving date night for conversations like where we’d like to go for our anniversary or what we’d like in our dream house. It helps keep things moving along, and prevents us from just staring at each other (which is perfectly fine if you’re having a lovey-dovey moment, but not so fine if you’re just out of things to talk about).
Find a Good Sitter
This is the last thing that helps enhance our date nights. We’ve been blessed with good babysitters we’ve met through our church, and it has definitely allowed us to just focus on each other during a date. We walk out the door and have absolutely no worries about anything. We still think about our girls and talk about them, but knowing they are in good hands certainly makes the night more enjoyable.
No date night is perfect – we recently ended a great date night arguing over something silly for days later. But going into a date ready to talk, listen, compliment, and focus on each other increases the odds that no one will be sleeping on the couch that night. 🙂
Now go out and have fun! ❤
PS – You can check out my other date night posts here!