We've been doing "date nights" since our cubs were wee. They are a great - in fact I would say essential - way to celebrate your togetherness as a couple! It's so important within your marriage to ensure that you do have special times together, when you make an effort to set aside time when you do nothing but enjoy each other's company. I'm not talking about the day-to-day stuff like doing the supermarket shop, but about specially planned occasions, like the dinner party pictured above, which we enjoyed on one date night a while ago - occasions that you are willing to invest your time and imagination in, to do something nice with, that you will both enjoy.
You don't need to go out to have "date night" - in fact, we don't usually. The whole point for us, is that we get to stay at home, but still have a special occasion. When we first started having "date nights" the cubs were too small to be left, so it was a sensible solution to the need to have precious times together, but without leaving home, and we found it worked so well that we have carried on doing it even now that they are well old enough to be left!
We don't have a "date night" every single Saturday. Sometimes there are other things happening that mean we won't have time, or there are weekends when we want to do things with the cubs, too. But at least once a month, sometimes more, we do set aside a Saturday to do this.
Nowadays, we tend to watch a film - we have a "LoveFilm" subscription which means we get to choose exactly which films we want to see, and can watch them at our leisure which suits us great. (This is also a good facility for families who choose to restrict or entirely abstain from watching TV but would still like to use films for entertainment, especially if you have young children, as you can screen films before the rest of the family watches them. Papa Bear tends to screen our films first). But we've done many other things too - see the list below for some extra ideas.
We really enjoy our date nights! We can't recommend them strongly enough to other couples. We look forward to them as a time when we can be "just us", just as we were in the early days of our marriage, and when we can sit and chat about what really matters to us, and share in the special closeness that you can only have with your spouse. To us, it is a really valuable investment in our marriage, and part of what helps us to stay so very happy as husband and wife. After all, we married because we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together! Tonight, we plan to watch an old-fashion black and white movie on DVD and enjoy some "TV snacks" that we will prepare together beforehand.
But what other ways are there to enjoy a "date night" with your spouse at home?
- Cook your evening meal together! This can take some planning, but it doesn't have to! Sharing the preparation of a meal - even a hastily thrown-together one - can be great fun, and afterwards you get to enjoy eating it, too! Treats like popcorn and coconut ice are especially fun to make together.
- Order a take-away from your favourite restaurant.
- Do a home project together - not your husband's tax return! Something fun, like restoring an old chair, or redesigning your living room.
- If your children are old enough to be left, you could go for a walk in your neighbourhood. This is especially lovely done after dark. We enjoy doing this at Christmas, when we can see all the pretty illuminated festive garlands and decorations that our neighbours have used to decorate their homes with.
- Learn a new skill together - such as a language, or a home decorating technique.
- Or why not do some research about a subject you don't know anything about? Get books from the library, pick up leaflets - or use the internet!
- I wouldn't otherwise recommend using the internet - but if you have a blog or website, it can be fun to sit together and think up some new posts or extra features for your joint online project. We don't tend to do this - as a family we don't use the internet very much at all.
- Plan a forthcoming event like a birthday or other family celebration. In our family this is usually left up to me, but Papa Bear enjoys adding his views and ideas to our plans for upcoming family events. We write lists, think up menus, and talk about our memories of other happy times we've enjoyed as a family.
- Talking of memories - why not look at your wedding album together - or pictures of the family as they were growing up.
- Do some puzzles, like Sudoku or crosswords. Papa Bear always knows the solution when we do a Sudoku puzzle!
- Read a book together - take turns to read out loud to each other.
- Give each other a "pamper session" - a foot or back rub, massage or even a haircut!
- Enjoy a work-out DVD! We've done this before - with hilarious results. I've got no co-ordination, and it was very comical to see! It was fun, but we got fit too! If you allow your children to have a computer games console, there are also similar games and sports activities available for these, that you can do together in this way.
- Teach each other a skill that you know well but your spouse doesn't. This might require a little patience! Papa Bear is great at knitting, but I didn't do so well learning how to re-plaster the bathroom ceiling one evening!
- Play games together - not just board games, but paper games are fun too. We like the one where you have to write the first part of astory or draw part of a person, and fold over the paper so that the piece you have written or drawn on is covered up, before passing it over to the other person. Or categories - write a list of 20 different keywords such as "a tree", "a flower", "a colour" "a city" and so on, then pick a letter of the alphabet. Set a timer for 2 or 3 minutes, and see how many of the keywords you can think of with that letter of the alphabet.
- Do some creative writing - a poem, or a song! Or we think up silly jokes to tell the cubs when we are travelling. Oftentimes they seemed very funny to us when we thought of them - but the cubs aren't quite so impressed!