Romance Reinvented: 4 Date-Night Tips Every Couple Should Know

When was the last time you went on a great date... with your husband or significantother? We're talking one-on-one, no-kids-around quality time. (No cheating.) If theanswer is "too long ago to remember," the advice in Marriage Fitness: 4 Steps to Building & Maintaining PhenomenalLove might be surprising. In his book, marriage coach and author Mort Fertelsays a happy marriage requires scheduled fun time together every week. In fact, he saysthat the most successful marriages are those in which the rules of dating ‑- beromantic, make special plans in advance and so on ‑- still apply. In this excerpt,he shares four ideas for making date night a regular part of your happily marriedroutine:

I know a couple who were avid tennis players. They enjoyed tennis together throughouttheir courtship. Two years after they married, their marriage was in trouble. When wasthe last time they played tennis together? About two years ago. Is tennis only fordating?

How did you spend time together when you fell in love? How often did you go out when youwere dating? It's time to start dating again ‑- dating your spouse.

I don't think it's possible to succeed in marriage and experience true love withoutspending at least one night a week together.

Date night can work magic in your marriage if you follow four guidelines.

1. Get out of the house. No activity at home counts toward date night. Home will remindyou of your practical and logistical matters. And if you have children... well, that'snot a date.

2. No movies and no other entertainment that requires you to face in the same direction.You'll need to face each other. You are the entertainment. (There is anexception to this rule. If you have enough time, you can watch a movie and then spend acouple of hours talking over dinner. In any event, the point is that you need at least acouple of hours to really be together.)

Guidelines Continued

3. Don't invite anyone else, and don't attend anything social. Date night is for youand your spouse only.

4. Schedule at least a couple of hours for date night. Don't tell your oldest child orthe babysitter that you'll be back in an hour. Date night should be an evening.

Here's a suggestion for parents of small children. Like a physical fitness program,sometimes the hardest part of a Marriage Fitness program is mustering consistentinspiration. In other words, you may initiate date night this week, but what about nextweek and the week after? Can you do it consistently? Why test yourself? Here's an easysolution my wife and I discovered.

Rather than relying on your initiative each week, find a babysitter to commit to work thesame hours every week. Our babysitter arrives at 7pm every Wednesday night. We told hernot to call to confirm ‑- just come. Now we're set every week with date night. Wedon't have to find the inspiration to plan it ‑- it's done! The burden is on us tocancel, not to plan.

Date night can help transform your marriage, but you have to tune into the spirit of theexercise. Two people can go on a date and not connect. If you go to the mall and read amagazine while your spouse tries on clothes ‑- that's not a date. If you go todinner and spend the evening talking to the waiter about how you want your meal prepared‑- it's not going to have much impact on your marriage. But if you help your spousepick out an outfit and have fun offering your opinion, you will connect. If you talk overdinner about how you might prepare the dish at home, you will achieve the purpose of datenight.

My wife and I had a swimming pool in our backyard when we lived in Florida. One datenight we put candles around the pool and went for a swim. We opened a bottle of wine andtoasted each other while standing in the shallow end. We stared up into the starry skyand marveled at the planes that occasionally flew overhead. We talked about... what's thedifference. It was an amazing evening, and it got better as the night went on.

Get creative with date night. Experiment and find fun things to do together. Take a boardgame to a coffee house. See if you can climb that tree on the corner of the block. Go tothe local amusement park. Go race toy cars. Have a picnic in the park. Or just sit downfor a quiet meal at a restaurant. Whatever you do, focus on each other. Date night is notabout what you do; it's about you.

Reprinted with permission from Marriage Fitness: 4 Steps to Building &Maintaining Phenomenal Love. Copyright © 2004 by Mort Fertel (MarriageMax,Inc.).

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