The idea of date nights has become a hot-button issue in some Christian circles. Some advocate that they are a nice "bonus" when they happen to work out, but aren't a necessary component to having a good marriage. Others view weekly date nights as an ideal. In our own sixteen-year marriage and ministry, we've come to view date nights as a life-giving time to keep marriage fresh. Our American culture pushes workaholism and child-centeredness in such a way that marriage is often left on the back burner. The vast majority of us don't need a free pass to stop dating our spouses, but a push to be intentional about making marriage a priority amidst the other demands and responsibilities of life.
While it's true that a good marriage is built in the mundane tasks of everyday life rather than on romantic getaways and mountaintop experiences, it doesn’t negate the fact that intentional time together as a couple is indispensable to having a healthy marriage.
What follows is an attempt to define a date night, along with a response to four common arguments against the idea of regularly dating your spouse.
What Is "Date Night"?
Some of the disagreement here may have to do with semantics. If you only imagine a date night to be dining at a five-star restaurant, hiring an expensive babysitter and heading to the theater for a Broadway-caliber show, very few of us would ever be able to go! But what if we defined "date night" by having intentional time with your spouse (without your children!)?
Of course, for every couple this intentional time will look different. For some it could be a long walk at the park or a picnic on the beach. For others it might be enjoying a cup of hot tea and a movie after the kids are in bed. In our experience as parents of four children (ages two to thirteen), if we do not plan to have time alone together, it is easily swallowed up by our children’s activity schedules, ministry, household chores, working on our computers, unanticipated interruptions, and pure selfishness. We often have to set a limit for our type-A selves in the evening of when we are closing the computers, shutting off the phones, and turning towards each other.