Want to keep your marriage or long-term relationship in tip-top shape? Then date nights should be a regular part of your life.
In most relationships, the honeymoon phase lasts anywhere from six months to two years; and afterward, couples slowly fall into their everyday routine. When that happens, date nights tend to fall on the back burner, so couples might not see the point of watching yet another movie or strolling a local park.
However, the weekly date night might be essential to a healthy relationship. In fact, the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia reported that married couples who go on frequent dates have higher success rates in the categories of happiness, commitment, communication, parental stability, and community integration. Keep reading to learn the benefits of date nights, as well as some of our favorite date ideas for you and your S.O.
Date Nights Help Maintain a Relationship
The importance of date nights may vary from couple to couple. However, the main purpose of date night is to keep the connection alive—one of the most important things for a thriving relationship. Not only do date nights remind you of all the reasons you fell in love in the first place, but they also help refocus your attention back to the two of you. With work meetings, soccer tournaments, and a busy schedule constantly competing for your time, it’s not uncommon that intimacy suffers, which is why quality time can help restore it.
Intimacy is a feeling of connection in an interpersonal or romantic relationship, and for a romantic one, it’s essential. As well as providing numerous benefits, intimacy ensures that each partner is understood and cared for:
- Boosts physical health. People in physical relationships tend to have better physical well-being. In fact, a study found that being in a happy relationship influences health just as much as diet and exercise, and it lowers the risk of chronic illness and death.
- Improves mental health. Having close relationships is also pivotal to strong mental health. Not only do they provide the social support necessary for overall well-being, but they combat feelings of loneliness and help people manage everyday stressors.
- Increases sexual satisfaction and desire. Research shows that couples in long-term romantic relationships that experience emotional intimacy also experience higher levels of sexual desire and sexual activity.
- Strengthens relationship satisfaction. Generally, couples with greater intimacy tend to feel more satisfied in their relationships.
Date Night Reminds You of the Value of Quality Time
In essence, date nights are an opportunity to spend valuable one-on-one time with your partner. And as we mentioned, quality time is a valuable (and rare!) gift in today’s fast-paced world and our normal busy lives.
When you intentionally make time for your partner, you form deep connections and strengthen your bond. According to a recent study, couples who spend most of their time (fruitfully) talking with one another report greater satisfaction, perceive more positive qualities in their relationship and experience greater closeness.
On the flip side, a lack of quality time in a relationship undermines its foundation. Oftentimes, one or both partners feels forgotten or unprioritized, which can lead to feelings of neglect and/or resentment.
Date Night Improves Communication
In every relationship, communication is key (we’ve all heard it). In this regard, one of the reasons why date nights are important is because they provide an opportunity to listen to your partner. Healthy communication in relationships allows you to clearly explain your experience and your needs, and your partner is given an opportunity to meet those needs. As a result, it can deepen the connection you have with each other.
However, here’s the caveat… Date nights are designed to be an escape from your everyday life. Therefore, you should leave conversations about the kids, household chores, finances, work, and the like at home. Instead of focusing on everyday stressors, use date nights to openly discuss your feelings, reconnect, and remind your partner of how much they mean to you.
Date Night Breeds Commitment
There’s no denying that husbands and wives—as well as other romantic partners—are more likely to enjoy stable, high-quality relationships when a sense of commitment is on the table. Specifically, studies show that partners who prioritize one another, steer clear of other romantic partners, and cultivate a strong sense of togetherness.Typically they are also happier than other, lesser-committed couples. Not only that, but the time required to plan, execute, and enjoy date night signals to your partner–and even to others–that you value your relationship.
Date Night Relieves Stress
Most couples would agree that stress is one of the biggest threats to a strong, long-term partnership. In fact, studies show that stress related to work, finances, or parenthood, can be corrosive to a relationship–insofar as it causes one or both partners to become irritable, violent, withdrawn, or otherwise difficult to live with.
But alas, date nights offer a bit of stress relief, as they’re an opportunity to enjoy one another’s company away from the pressing concerns of daily life. Not only that, but they’re tremendous opportunities to extend emotional support to your partner, providing a buffer and/or escape from whatever it is they’re currently facing.
Date Night is Fun
After all, date nights are a lot of fun. They’re an ideal opportunity to kick your feet back and simply enjoy your partner’s company and research suggests that “couples who engage in novel activities that are fun, active, or otherwise arousing—from hiking to dancing to travel to card games—enjoy higher levels of relationship quality.”
Therefore, we recommend using date nights to explore more than just your old standbys (i.e. dinner and a movie). Instead, select new and exciting activities that represent a balance of both your interests, making your creative ideas a surprise to your partner.
Looking for some fun and interesting ideas? We’ve compiled a list of our favorite date nights below:
Date Night Ideas
Now that we’ve covered why date nights are important, let’s get to the fun(ner) part. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the outdoorsy type or city slicker—here are some different experiences every couple will love:
Go for a Hike
While the traditional romantic date night plan might include high heels and a fancy meal, it certainly doesn’t have to! In fact, strapping on your hiking boots and exploring someplace new is a fantastic way to spend quality time with your S.O. If there are hiking trails nearby, we encourage you to explore one that’s new to both of you. And if the hiking trails are… well… a bit of a hike in itself… it’s a prime opportunity to plan that romantic weekend getaway.
Cook a Meal Together at Home
Whoever said that a date night opportunity requires leaving the house? Sometimes, taking the time to intentionally prepare a meal together is the most romantic date night of them all. Find a delicious recipe online (preferably one that you haven’t made), pour some wine, light those candles, and set the mood with your favorite tunes.
Explore a Speakeasy
Sometimes, it’s fun to get all dolled up and hit the town. And what’s more fun than hunting down a secret, sultry location and sipping on some exquisite cocktails? Speakeasies are intimate bars that truly know how to set the mood. We’re certain that nothing will make you fall back in love more than whispering sweet nothings under equally gorgeous lighting in your favorite dress.
Take Dance Lessons
There’s nothing more romantic than sashaying around the dance floor with your lover. Find a style that you’ve always wanted to learn–perhaps salsa or swing–and sign up for lessons! And, because you come back week after week, it pretty much guarantees that date night becomes a regular thing.
Catch a Movie at a Drive-In Theater
Sometimes, we crave the old reliable. However, if you’re trying to keep things fresh, why not liven the traditional dinner and a movie up a bit? One of our favorite ways to jazz up movie night is to pack a picnic, charcuterie board, and a bottle of wine and head to your local drive-in. Most drive-in theaters show a wide variety of current films, and many have snacks available for purchase. Also, don’t forget to bring plenty of pillows and blankets to snuggle up in.
It’s Time to Start Dating Your Spouse
While scheduling couple time and planning regular date nights can seem like a near-impossible feat, the potential value of date night far outweighs the cost. Not only do they foster intimacy and connection, but spending quality time with your partner and best friend is an essential component of every healthy partnership.