Monday, July 6, 2009

She Said: Mormon Date Night

I'm not so sure this is counsel we hear from GAs or over the pulpit at General Conference (I'll let Dr. B. search around for it), but I know that local leaders often counsel married couples that they should set aside time once a week for a "Date Night." I think this is actually some of the best advice I've heard for strengthening a marriage. When Dr. B. and I were married in the Salt Lake Temple back in 1983 our sealer, Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi, advised us to go out often together, even if it was only to McDonald's. I think this was standard advice that he gave to many couples. It is often difficult once two people are married to spend quality time together. Unless there is a time set apart in the week, it usually just doesn't happen. Work schedules, children, TV, or even a good book can get in the way of conversation between couples, and over the years the lack of communication makes a difference.

I remember at a stake conference when all of our children were quite young, the SP told the parents in the stake that they should establish a bedtime for their children. At the time, we were into attachment parenting, and that combined with nursing on demand which meant that bedtimes were haphazard around our place. In fact, we ususally let the children spend the night wherever they happened to fall asleep (most often, our bed). I resisted the Stake President's advice at first, but after we discussed it we decided to try it for a while. I did notice that when we had bedtimes in our home, DH and I spent more time conversing together in the evenings.

I would have to say that in my opinion, Mormon Date Night is more effective than almost anything else for keeping marriages strong and families together. A "date" doesn't have to be expensive, or even take you out of the home. The best dates are those that get you talking and enjoying each other's company. Here are some of my favorite "dates" that we've done as a couple:

  • Road trips (sometimes these have been road trips to the temple, when we've lived a distance from the temple. I don't think going to the temple is always the best date night, but it can be great when you combine it with dinner before or after, a road trip, or even a weekend getaway.)

  • Canoeing/Tubing (I love water sports. I'd like to do more of this--kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, etc.)

  • Just going to the beach and walking along the shore (trite, I know! but for a reason, people!)

  • Studying Isaiah together

  • Going to the museum (I love art museums, and I'm still hoping to get to Italy to see the art there.)

  • Attending concerts (most of the ones we've done lately have been our kids' band concerts, but those are fun, too.)

These are dates I don't particularly care for:

  • Going to a movie

  • Going out to eat (exception: upscale dinner theater. Don't know if we've ever done that together, though.)

  • Going to a church fireside or high priests' activity

What are your favorites, readers? Has Mormon Date Night helped your marriage?


  1. At a couples therapy training I went to last year, the presenters suggested a weekly date plus three "weekend getaways" a year. The key is not in the activity, or that you even have to have a lot in common, but rather shared positive affect, and continuing the life-long process of getting to know each other.

  2. I don't know whether anyone will understand this. I got married in 1978. My husband and I both enjoy theater, concerts and opera and many years have had one or more season subscriptions. It kind of commits us in advance to spending time together. When I first started hearing the term "date night" I absolutely hated it. It seemed to trivialize and, as Dr B said, institutionalize something we were already doing. It sounded so juvenile to me. I refused to let my husband call our outings “date night”. I don’t cringe now as I used to when I hear the term. I suppose, like anything else, when you hear it as often as we do as members, it has become a little less offensive.

    Some things that I enjoy doing with my husband, besides those mentioned above are walks through the neighborhood when it’s cool enough and eating out. We sometimes walk around the area where the restaurant is located before or after the meal. I also enjoy traveling, but that can be expensive. By the way, BIV, I never thought of myself as being into art or having the capacity to really appreciate it until I went to the Prado. This was many years ago before I got married, but I was blown away. Go to Spain!

    Before I got married, I had a group of friends that would get together to read aloud. I loved it and hoped to do it with my husband, but he always falls asleep. So I read a lot of books to my children as they were growing up, even when they were teenagers. I have not had an outlet for that for several years now.

  3. By the way, the Marxist Erich Fromm gave the same advice in 1956 in his most popular book The Art of Loving.

  4. I would prefer to spend time together in the bedroom, watching some light dramas while touching and talking deeply.

  5. I totally agree that a once-a-week date night is great for a marriage!

    Having said that, we've never done well with it. We have two young children, after all.

    This Saturday will be our first of many scheduled date nights. We have a girl that will plan on watching our kiddos every other Saturday (baby steps!) and we're gonna give it a go.

    Our relationship could certainly use some reconnecting right now...

  6. This isn't really a date-y thing, but my wife and I like to unwind by playing board games together. Our current favorites are Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride. We play 2-3 times a week (which is why it's not so much a dating activity, I guess) and it's a great chance for us to chat about how our days went and reconnect.