I have read most of the popular books on marriage and romance. I know what they say. They say that you need to have a regular date night—weekly, preferably—and that this is a key, maybe even the key, to a healthy marriage. Some of them go farther still and say that you don’t only need a date night, but the two of you need to get away together at least once or twice every year. How else can your marriage thrive?
I know what these well-meaning authors mean to accomplish. I know what they are saying and I know why they say it. But I don’t buy it. I don’t buy the necessity of it. I don’t think you need a date night. I don’t think your marriage will necessarily suffer without it. I don’t think you ought to feel guilty if you don’t schedule it every week, or every month for that. It may be a good thing, but it isn’t a necessary thing.
Aileen and I have never made date nights a regular (and certainly not weekly) occurrence. We haven’t ever felt the need. We have never even really felt the desire to go out that often. And I think we’re doing okay without them.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy going out with her, whether that’s for dinner or dessert or an evening with friends. I enjoy escaping for a night or two together when the opportunity presents itself. There is no one in the world with whom I would rather spend an evening or weekend. But I don’t often crave those times.
Why? Because I also enjoy going to the gym with her or just stepping out for a quick evening walk around the block. I enjoy wandering the aisles of Home Depot or Ikea with her as we catch up on those little household errands. I enjoy helping her make dinner and I enjoy it when she helps me do the dishes or when we team up to make the kids’ lunches. I especially enjoy sitting on the couch together to watch Antiques Roadshow (still the best show on television!) or Downton Abbey or whatever else we’re into. I enjoy lying in bed next to her as each of us devours whatever book we are reading at the moment. I just plain enjoy her. I enjoy doing life alongside her—normal life. With all the time we spend doing life together, and all the satisfaction we derive from it, we are quite content. (Yes, she read this article and gave her assent!)
Marriage is made up of date nights and romantic weekends. But far more it is made up of those million mundane little moments. More than it is dancing and candlelight and bed and breakfasts, it is doing chores together, driving to church together, watching a miniseries together, eating meals together. It has been my experience that the more we enjoy those ordinary moments and the more we find satisfaction and significance in them, the less we need or even desire those extraordinary occasions.
I know couples who have neither common interests nor common activities, and they thrive through their regularly-scheduled date nights. I understand that, and I’m genuinely happy for them! I know others who just love to be out and about and, again, thrive with their date nights. But for us, the best nights, the nights we love, the nights we crave, are the most normal nights of all. And we are delighted with that.