After we commit to our relationships, most couples stop spending much time together. After all, we are all busy with jobs, kids, family responsibilities, and hobbies.The typical couple spends an average of 2 1/2 hours together a day. However, they don't spend a lot of that time engaging with one another.
For many, especially women, being in the same space with their partner does not feel connecting. Closeness comes from talking or interacting. You need to have your partner's undivided attention to feel close. Emotional closeness leads to increased happiness, greater satisfaction in the relationship, and increased sex. So, it is important to prioritize some time together when you can interact and focus on one another.
The ideal way to spend time together is away from the house. When you go out, there are fewer everyday distractions. You can also enjoy activities that are out-of-the-norm. The activity may stimulate conversations that you wouldn't have at home. Of course, there are many reasons that a couple would not be able to get away from the house: childcare, finances, and health limitations. You can still see the benefits of a date when you plan them at home.
A date at home does not have to be complicated, but they do have to be intentional. It is important to think about what you want to get from the date so you will plan it as part of the event. Here are some tips to improve your at-home dates:
Schedule the date. Identify a specific day and time as a date night.Otherwise, you run the risk that it will feel just like any other night.Think carefully about how you schedule it. You want to reduce the chances that either of you will fall asleep or a sleepless child will derail it by refusing to go to bed.
Prepare yourself. When you go out for a date, you have to make plans. When you stay in for your date, expect to put the same amount of planning into it.If you take a shower and carefully choose your clothes before going out, do the same for an at-home date. You don't have to dress up, but be intentional about your clothing choices.
Take turns planning the date. It can be fun to be in charge, but it is also fun to be surprised.Give each of you the chance to be in each role.
Switch them up. Keep some of the dates low key. Plan others to be more exciting. Some examples:
Rent a new or thought-provoking movie.
Play a favorite game.
Read a book taking turns reading aloud.
Eat dinner together after the kids are in bed.
Use conversation cards instead of watching tv.
Dream together about what your future will look like. Especially the things you will do when you can get out more.
Sit outside with a favorite beverage and talk about life.
Work on a hobby that requires planning and execution.
More exciting options:
Cook a fancy meal complete with candles and a tablecloth.
Get a Date Night subscription box and follow the instructions.
Plan a picnic on the porch or living room floor.
Have a scavenger hunt.
Recreate photos from earlier in your relationship.
Slowly build up to sex with lots of foreplay.
Don't be discouraged if your date occasionally gets derailed.This will happen even with the best plans. If you have a date every week, you can feel confident that there will be an opportunity to try again soon.
Remember to be flexible. You will probably have to adjust your plans as you go. Maybe your scheduled time will work for a while but you will have to change it when your kids get older. You might need to search for more date night activities when you want some more variety.
The most important thing is to intentionally spend some time together every week. As much as possible, plan activities that you will both enjoy. When couples don't spend much time together, they feel disconnected and bored in the relationship. You want your relationship to continue growing over the years. Having a regular date is an easy way to ensure that you have enough time together to really know one another.
Cheri Timko is the creator of Synergy Coaching, an online community helping committed couples have great relationships. Learn more about how to get involved in this movement of couples who don't just want to stay together but want to thrive together here.