Rules of Engagement
If you've spent any time wandering these Wedded WHOAment streets, you know how much I love and cherish dates with my husband, LT! Our dating routine started long before we were married; and here we are almost 9 years into our marriage, and I still get all giddy and cheesy for our date nights.
Are you (routinely) dating your spouse? Well, you should. Studies have shown that most successful marriages include regular and frequent dating between spouses. I know this to be true because LT and I definitely reap the benefits of our continued dating! And our marriage is thriving, in part, because we still make dating each other a priority.
I want to encourage all married couples to keep that spark alive by adding consistent, frequent dates to your marriage arsenal. Below are 8 helpful tips and reminders for dating your spouse.
It's A Date. (Literally) Agree on the day and time of your date and sync your calendars. Don't let your children, weather, work, attitudes or anything else get in the way of the time you've purposefully set apart to spend with your spouse. Putting it on the calendar not only blocks your time, but it allows you the opportunity to prepare for and look forward to the date.
TC's Tip: At the beginning of each new year, LT and I sync our calendars with our recurring date night. Once we sync our calendars, we don't have to think about setting the date and time again. Now, if someone asks to plan something with me this Friday at 8:00 p.m., for instance, I can look at my calendar and see my time is already blocked for our date.
Switch It Up. Before we were married, I relied on LT to come up with ideas and plan our dates. That was fine back then because, afterall, he was courting me. (Smiles). As time went on and after we were married, we agreed to alternate the date planning. LT would plan one date and then I'd plan the next, and so forth. We still do that to this day and alternating plans adds to the excitement of our dates. It also removes some of the pressure of having to continuously come up with things for us to do.
TC's Tip: On the day of our date, the planner emails the date night plans to the other. For me, the anticipation and excitement leading up to the receipt of LT's plans is just as pleasurable as the actual date. Knowing that he's put together a date for us AND also took the time to type them is a twofold perk: 1) I know what we are doing and how to prepare and 2) I love reading letters/messages from LT and the email lets me know he was purposefully thinking of and preparing for me, WIN-WIN. (Along with syncing our calendars at the beginning of the year, we also note who is responsible for making the plans for each date night. This saves us time and allows for better planning down the road.)
Consider One Another. When you are planning the date, keep your spouse's interests in mind. While experiencing new things together can be fun, try to plan your date according to what they'll enjoy as well. For instance, if your spouse is frightened of heights, planning a bungee jump may not be viewed as a great date. You may, however, ease them into that adventure with dinner with a great view.
TC's Tip: Pay attention and listen to your spouse's clues and plan accordingly. If they happen to mention how they'd like to see a new movie when it opens, consider taking them on a date to that movie. If they have a taste for a certain food, make dinner reservations for a new restaurant that specializes in preparing it. If they've been tense or working hard, consider a massage date. Get the hint?
Keep It Light. Date nights are meant to be a time for reconnecting with your spouse. It is not the time for bringing up stresses of your day or hashing out conflicts. Instead, this is the time for you and your spouse to enjoy one another. Lighten up and have fun!
TC's Tip: Before the date, note and come into agreement about the things that are off limits during your date. Perhaps you will have a "no kid talk" rule in which the two of you will not bring up ANYTHING about the children. Or maybe you have a no cell phone rule, in which you agree to not answer the phone. Whatever you and your spouse agree upon, stick to it. Hold each other accountable when you are tempted to violate the things you've set in place. This is your time to enjoy!
Three's (or Four's) a Crowd (Sometimes). While group dates can be fun, they should not be the norm. Do not routinely opt for group or double dates in lieu of spending one on one time with your spouse -- especially if you aren't consistently spending time together as a couple. Doing so can lead to the lack of intimacy with your spouse, unhealthy comparisons to other couples, and unwanted marital issues.
TC's Tip: If you are spending consistent time as a couple, group and/or double dates can be fun! LT and I choose who we allow to join our date nights wisely. We use the opportunity to influence other couples by letting them see a glimpse of how we enjoy our marriage, while encouraging them to date their spouses. Or we use the opportunity to spend time with like-minded couples, who also date their spouses. Because we spend solo time together, we are able to have fun and enjoy the fun of group and/or double dates.
Get Ready! Remember when you and your spouse were "just" boyfriend and girlfriend? You'd spend time primping and pampering before your date. Now that you are married, keep it up! While every date may not call for a suit and tie or a sexy black dress and heels, get yourself ready! Spend a little extra time in the mirror to look good for your spouse.
TC's Tip: Consider getting ready separately. On our date nights, LT usually waits in another room until I am dressed and ready to leave. Most times, he won't know what I am wearing until I walk out. This adds to the level of excitement and anticipation of us arriving for our date.
Plan For A Happy Ending. Yes. That happy ending. Sex is always, always, always a great way to end most nights. So, surely, you know that every great date should end with great sex! After all, that's one of the benefits of being married: with your spouse, there are no limits.
TC's Tip: Build sex into your date plans. It doesn't have to be at the end of the date. You can also start your date with sex! The fun part about starting with sex is seeing if you actually make it to the second part of your date. You will also be the couple basking in that aftersex glow when you make it to your destination. Additionally, if you opt to alternate your date night planning, the person responsible for planning the date could also be responsible for initiating the date sex and the "recipient" can't refuse (no matter how long they've spent in the mirror getting ready for the date.)
Make It a Date. It should be noted that dates with your spouse do not have to happen at night. The goal is to, simply, spend quality time, alone with your spouse, which could occur during the morning, midday, at night, an entire weekend or even a week! Just do it!
TC's Tip: There is no cap on the number of dates with your spouse. Although LT and I have regular, recurring date nights, any additional time we spend together is considered a bonus. We may have a date on Friday, opt to see a movie on Saturday and eat lunch together on Sunday. They are all dates and they count! Yet, if those additional dates don't happen, we know, for certain, that our regular date night is on the calendar and it will!
*If you enjoyed reading this WHOAment, you may also like "Love Hangover"
I love hearing from you. So, let's chat!
*What advice/tips would you give to a couple wanting to implement dates?
*Who takes on the responsibility of planning your dates? Why?
*How would you describe your ideal date with your spouse?
*What is your most memorable date you've shared with your spouse?
*When is your next date?