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A little detective work will fix your date nights.

Before you can have a successful date night with your spouse, you need to be clear who you’re dating. Are you spending time with your friend, your lover, or your partner?

There are three relationships inside your singular marriage.

“I would be a lot more interested in kissing you if you cleaned the kitchen once in a while.” Have you ever wanted to say this to your spouse? If so, you’re feeling frustrated because you need a dedicated date with your partner.

If you’ve ever said, “You never want to do anything fun anymore; you’re boring,” then you need a date night with your lover.

Tangles like this happen in your marriage because there’s a mis-match. When you’re in partner-mode, you want help. When you’re in lover-mode, you want excitement. The partner and the lover disagree about what makes a good date night.

You live with your spouse, so you’re gonna need help. You have sex with your spouse, so you want to be excited by them.

When the lover gets stuck with the partner on date night, it’s not gonna go well.

Date night for partners who like to achieve together

Building a new garden together can be a great date night when you and your spouse are both in partner-mode. Partners like to achieve. When your date night lets you achieve together, you feel connected because you’re on the same team.

Date night for lovers who like to explore together

Mountain biking a new trail can be a great date night when you’re both in lover-mode. Lovers like to explore. When you explore together you feel connected because you’re sharing the excitement of an adventure.

Take a look at this chart that shows how it’s easy to connect when you’re both in the same head space.

Your date night will improve when you and your spouse want the same thing from the date.

But here’s the deal: You and your spouse won’t always be feeling the same relationship needs at the same time.

When you’ve been stressing over the broken water heater, or the kids have been extraordinarily needy you need a partner to come help you. Think of it as a date, “It may not sound romantic, but the thing that would make me feel closest to you right now is if you got out a wrench and fixed this water heater. I would feel like you rescued me.”

Feeling rescued is romantic.

There’s a reason fairytales end with Prince Charming saving the Princess.

We all want to be rescued, not just princesses.

If your spouse is “lazy” or perpetually exhausted, propose a date night that allows you and your spouse to tackle a project.

Try this:

Ask your spouse, “You seem tired and I want to support you. What would make you feel most cared for? Should we do a deep clean of the kitchen while listening to great music, or would it help more if we sat down with our calendars and did some long-term planning?”

Distraction provides relief.

Having said that it’s romantic to be rescued, it’s also romantic to feel relief. Lovers are great at providing distraction because they are so interested in exploring something new.

Any kind of full-body distraction takes you away from the weight of responsibility.

Sometimes responsibilities pile on, and no matter how much help you feel from your spouse, sometimes you just need A BREAK.

This is when a lover’s date night can be very intimate. But be aware, very few people can go directly from the weight of responsibility to the vulnerability of sex.

A distracting date night provides the transition between the two.

Try this:

“I’m exhausted. I’m so exhausted I don’t have energy to plan something fun for us. Do you have any energy to come up with a creative date night so we can get a break from all this hassle?”
Or
“I think you’re exhausted. And it’s hard for you to let go of all this responsibility. I have a hunch though, that a really solid break—even for a few hours—would make you feel better. If I plan something fun for us to do, will you let yourself relax and take a break?”

Either of these methods make it clear: You’re inviting your spouse on a romantic date night. You want to provide some relief.

The hormones that flood your body with laughter, play, or sex will be good antidotes to all that stress that’s been burdening you. Remind your spouse that your date-night-motivation is to make them feel better. This provides a counterbalance to the “You’re not helping me” feeling your partner-minded spouse might have.

There are lots of mis-matches when it comes to date night expectations. Check out the chart below to see all the possible combinations you and your spouse might have when headed out on the town (or staying home to cuddle).

The biggest gift you can give to your marriage is to have a variety of date nights that feed all three of the relationships inside your singular marriage. Check out this list of date night ideas.

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