How do you get your date nights onto the calendar?
This blog will walk you through choosing date nights for each of the three roles inside your relationship: Partner, Friend, and Lover. Then you’ll have a fun time making a game out of getting them onto the calendar.
The more you develop your friendship, the deeper you’ll understand your spouse. Bonding with your partner secures the two of you as teammates. And playing with your lover lubricates everything so you fight less and love feels smooth and easy.
First, the Friend date night
When you plan an activity that nourishes the Friend in your marriage, you’ll focus on two things the Friend does best: talking and listening.
What’s great about nourishing the Friend roles in your relationship is that you feel more connected. When you understand your spouse’s motivations, dreams, and desires, you naturally grow compassion for them. And compassion helps you to weather the storms that life will inevitably throw at you.
I think of the Friend role in your relationship like the foundation of a house. You want to keep it shored up and dig deep casings so your foundation is stable.
For the Friend, think about date nights that foster conversation. The best conversation is when you each have time and space to reveal what’s on your mind and in your heart. Those revelations need a place to land, too, so bring your best-listening-self to your Friend date night.
Your relationship is unique. In order to create dates that increase the depth of your Friendship with your spouse, think about…
What promotes conversation for you? Do you talk/listen best when…
- Both of you are looking forward? Some people find it easier to talk when no one is looking right at them.
- Or do you talk/listen best when looking into each other’s faces? Some people find it easier to talk when they have eye contact.
This may seem like a silly and insignificant thing, but I’ve notice with the couples I coach that gaze is fundamental to how much conversation flows naturally and freely.
I’m definitely a talk best while chopping veggies, or walking, or doing anything thing that lets my body be a little bit busy. But I listen best when holding a gaze. How about you? How about your spouse?
If looking forward helps you to talk or listen…
- You’ll want to choose a date night that involves movement: a drive, a walk, or some other movement that helps you travel in the same direction.
- Or you could choose a date night that includes making something with your hands: cooking, gazing at a lovely sunset, or sanding your house before you paint it (but if you choose a project, agree that the project is a catalyst for conversation not completion).
If looking into each other’s eyes helps you talk/listen…
- Choose a date night that sets you across from each other: a meal, or a fire pit.
- Choose a date night that connects your bodies as you face each other: feet in each other’s lap for foot rubs.
Style your date night to talk or to listen
Now consider the style of date that helps you talk best or listen best. If your spouse talks most easily when you hold their gaze and you want your spouse to tell you things, then choose a date that will foster their desire to open up.
When my husband senses there’s a struggle between us, he asks me to sit down with him. He looks right into my eyes. Then he asks, “What’s up? Something’s bothering you.”
This is very intense for me. It’s hard for me to talk unless I’m looking away.
On the other hand, this is how I know I have David’s full attention.
Knowing this has helped us be mindful about how to foster our friendship. Sometimes we’ll start with a full-on gaze, and then, once I know he’s really tuned in and listening intently, I’ll say, “Would you mind if we took a walk to talk about this?”
Friendship-building date nights.
- A stroll around your neighborhood after dinner
- A shared beverage with a snack
- Get out good pencils and draw each other’s eyes
- Play a game
A great date that fosters the Friendship in your relationship is one that helps you get to know each other better through talking and listening.
Other great dates to build the Friendship in your marriage are things that make you feel cozy and comfy.
- Watching a movie or TV together
- Sitting together with your phones and occasionally showing each other what you’re looking at.
- Napping together
The core of building the Friend role in your relationship is about feeling known and knowing your spouse. You can actively know your spouse by talking and listening.
But you can also know and be known by your spouse when you simply share time together and notice each other. Watching a movie isn’t an active conversation, but you get to know your spouse when you notice the types of movies they choose. Likewise, when you notice what sorts of things appeal to them as they scroll their phone.
Try this: Chat with your spouse about the best date nights for The Friend in your relationship
- What kind of gaze best helps you to talk? How about listen?
- What dates are best for your relationship if you need to talk? How about if it’s time for you to listen?
- What’s your favorite cozy and comfy date?
Next, the Partner date night
Let’s talk about date night ideas that connect you to the Partner you married.
When you plan an activity that nourishes the Partnership in your marriage, you’ll take turns with the two things the Partner does best: lead and follow.
What’s great about nourishing the Partnership roles in your relationship is that you get to share a sense of accomplishment. When you achieve alongside your spouse, pride of completion unites the two of you as teammates.
I think of the Partner role in your relationship like the engine of your relationship. You want to keep that engine oiled and well maintained. You also want to make sure that engine gets plenty of rest so it doesn’t burn out.
Don’t overdo Partnership date night
When you share Partnership oriented dates, you’re tending to the details of living. This is keeping things well oiled. You’ll fight less about the logistics of life if you tend to the Partner dates.
But if you overdo the Partner dates it’s all work and no play makes you a dull person, right? So make sure there’s also plenty of rest from Partner dates.
In order to create dates that build your Partnership: Imagine date ideas that revolve around contributions or achievements. Partners feel connected when they’re striving for the same goal.
You’ll feel most united as a team if, at the end of the date, you can see the result of your teamwork. When you and your spouse share Partnership-building dates, you create a feeling of safety and trust in your relationship. You increase the feeling of reliability in your relationship.
Your relationship is unique.
What shared dreams do you have? How do your skills complement each other? You will feel like teammates when you’re able to lead and/or follow each other through the course of your project to a satisfactory result you can both see.
What promotes achievement for you? Do you prefer to lead or follow?
- Are you the one with ideas, but you need help to bring them across the finish line?
- Or do you prefer to implement someone else’s vision? Do you enjoy the satisfaction of a shared task and you find joy in contributing to your spouse’s dream?
- Maybe it depends on the activity, right? When we re-threaded the cords that hold our raft together, David was a better leader and I implemented. When we’re planning a week’s worth of meals, I’m a better leader because I do most of the cooking, but I want help generating ideas.
If you enjoy leading…
- Choose a date night activity that inspires you. Ask your partner to join you by giving a clear invitation. Create a vision of how this project will improve your lives and tell your partner why you value them as a teammate in this endeavor.
- Embrace your role as leader while your date unfolds: Appreciate your spouse by mentioning specific skills or an attitude. It helped me when David said, “Oh, you’re folding the webbing over before you put it through the next gromet. That’s a great idea.” Then Be the happiness you want to feel and your spouse will follow your lead.
If you prefer to follow…
- Listen for cues that describe the date night project your partner has in mind. Draw your partner out by expressing your curiosity or enthusiasm to be a part of the project.
- Embrace your role as follower: Defer to your partner’s leadership by offering respect and curiosity. Be the happiness you want to feel and your partner will feel your support.
Great date nights for partners
- Develop a new skill in the kitchen. Use a new tool together. Make a new recipe. Or simply share the tasks of cooking dinner together.
- Develop a savings/investment plan and make a to-do list on strategies to help you save and invest
- Volunteer together at a charity you both admire
What date night ideas do you have to strengthen the Partnership in your relationship?
Try this: Chat with your spouse about the best date nights for The Partner in your relationship
- How often are you game for a project? When have you overdone it in the past?
- What sort of project do you prefer to lead? To follow?
- What’s your favorite sort of partnership date? Why?
Last, the Lover date night
In this third section, let’s talk about date night ideas that connect you to the Lover you married.
When you plan an activity that nourishes the Lover role in your marriage, you’ll take turns with the two things the Lover does best: laughter and adventuring.
What’s great about nourishing the Lover roles in your relationship is that your barriers come down, you feel deeply connected because you’ve shared a novel experience.
Seek out date nights that foster laughter, adventure, and a little bit of risk. Laughter is genuine because it’s a bit of a surprise. You laugh because you didn’t expect what just happened.
Risk and adventure ignite your sensual body. You become attune to dangers: real or imagined. When you safely survive the risky or adventurous date, a trust is built between you and your lover, setting you up to welcome the vulnerability of a sexual encounter.
Both laughter and adventure flood your body with happy hormones. They also loosen the grip of stress hormones and that breaks down barriers. Lovers feel connected when they’re bathed in juicy, happy hormones.
Your relationship is unique.
In order to create dates that connect you as Lovers, imagine dates that will inspire laughter, or will have you united in an adventure.
Date night ideas that connect you to the lover you married
What promotes laughter for you?
- Do you like to watch? Are you more likely to join in laughter someone else creates?
- Or do you enjoy the role of comic? Do you regularly riff about what’s ironic, goofy, or odd?
What adventures appeal to you?
- Do you like physical feats that push your limits?
- Or are you more likely to enjoy the adventure of a puzzle that wakes up your brain?
If laughter is more likely to loosen you up…
- Choose a date night that feeds your sense of humor: attend a comedy club, watch the goofy seals at your local aquarium, or scour the news for the oddest human stories.
- Notice how laughter loosens your muscles as well as your brain. Noticing these delicious effects will increase your willingness to loosen more, and laughter will come more frequently. When you share a laugh with your spouse, a flood of hormones will bond you tighter.
If adventure is more likely to loosen you up…
- Choose a date night that ignites your physical body by raising your heart rate or a date night that sparks your imagination with a mystery you and your spouse can solve.
- Embrace the sensual pleasure your body gets as you sweat. Embrace the thrill you have when your brain engages in deep thought.
- Notice how adventure increases your confidence and confidence is directly connected to your sexual desire.
Great date nights for lovers
- Get lost in a jungle (urban or green) and find your way out
- Rent or borrow a new piece of equipment and experiment: pogo stick anyone?
- Hide something and ask your lover to find it: a ring, a new pen, or a puppy
Which kind of date makes you feel closest to your lover? Which kind of date is hardest for you to pull off?
Try this: Chat with your spouse about the best date nights for The Lover in your relationship
- Are you more likely to loosen up with laughter or an adventure?
- What sorts of things are most likely to make you laugh? What adventures most appeal to you?
- What’s your favorite sort of Lover date? Why?
Get your date nights onto the calendar
In the last segment, you’re gonna get these great dates onto your calendar while at the same time you’ll notice the sorts of dates your spouse favors.
You’ve got a collection of dates now, right? You’ve at least got one of each kind of date: a Friend date, a Partner date, and a Lover date. Maybe you have several of each type.
Write down your dates. I just did scraps of paper this year, but in past years I’ve been very fancy and wrote the dates on paper hearts. The key is that each date has its own piece of paper.
Spread all the dates out so you can see them all.
Then, on separate scraps of paper or paper hearts or on a real calendar, create a timeline. Because David and I are used to doing this we have 12 months represented. But for you, it might be 3 weeks. Just choose the time frame that is helpful for you and that accommodates the number of dates you have.
OK. You’ve got the timeline and you’ve got the dates night activities. Now take turns choosing the dates and putting them into the timeline.
Try this: Spread your date night papers out and take turns choosing
As you choose each date, place it into your calendar so you know it has the space to become a reality.
David was surprised how early in our choice making I picked “kayak for a day.” And I already mentioned that I was surprised he picked “wash the windows.”
David and I usually have more dates than we can fit on the calendar of a year. This is because some of our dates are big vacations.
We’ve realized, after doing this for many years, that not everything we want to do will fit. I think that’s why I like this game of watching each other fill up the calendar. This way we have a balance of things we both want. And we see what things we don’t choose if time gets scarce.
We’ve learned to fit the more challenging Partner dates into realistic timeframes. And I’ve been able to see that, if I’m gonna go on an adventure that really pushes me out of my comfort zone, I want to plan ahead to make sure I’m good and rested going into that scary adventure.
OK! I hope you have as much fun with this date-night-batch-kit as I do. I hope it allows you to fit some exciting dates into your life that would otherwise linger in the “oh-that-would-be-fun-someday” category. And I really hope this gives you what you needed to avoid the date night dulldrums of “Whatch wanna do?” “I dunno, whatchoo wanna do?”
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