Positive Parenting: What It Means and How It Works

8 Reasons Date Night Is Vital to a Happy Marriage

Experts weigh in on why a date night away from the kids is good for your marriage.

By Judy Koutsky

I have two young kids, ages 5 and 3, a full-time job, a husband who travels quite a bit for work, and a house that’s always a disaster. I have no time for date night (let alone the energy to clean up the place, so the babysitter won’t be horrified by our living conditions). And yet, I try, even though it doesn’t always work, to schedule date night once or twice a month. Why is date night so important? I talked to experts Karen Budzinski, author of How to Build An Enduring Marriage, and Carrie Krawiec, a marriage and family therapist to find out.

1. Uninterrupted talking time. You love your kids, but you know how hard it is to have uninterrupted conversations with your husband when your little ones are around. Having date night allows you to focus on each other. “Job pressures and the demands of everyday living often make it difficult to enjoy time with your spouse without interruption,” says Budzinski. “Just as it is important to take a break between reps when lifting weights in the gym, it is important to take a break between reps when bearing the weight of demanding schedules as well. You need a break -- time to talk uninterrupted -- to rejuvenate, appreciate each other, and make plans and goals together.”

2. Separation from the kids is good. “Parents who feel like they’re living for their kids put an unnecessary burden on the kids to be responsible for the relationship,” says Krawiec. “Parents can model a healthy relationship by modeling adaptive boundaries, communication, affection, and quality time.” Going out on a date doesn’t mean you don’t love your kids; it means you love your husband.

3. Maintaining intimacy. “Parents need date nights because they need to stay connected intimately with each other,” says Budzinski. Children can be demanding and require a lot of attention, but before you know it, they’re grown up and your role changes in their lives. “When the children are away at school or married, and the parents are alone again, the most solid relationships will be those in which the couples continued to enjoy each other throughout the child-raising years. This takes effort and strategic planning,” she says.

4. Opportunity for siblings to bond. “Kids also need an identity separate from the parents. A parents’ date night may be a great opportunity for siblings to bond and strengthen their relationship,” says Krawiec. You’d be surprised at how much fun the kids can have when the parents are away.

5. Improved communication. It’s hard to talk to your spouse when you’re balancing a bunch of other things. Then, when you’re finally alone together at night, you’re too tired to do more than veg in front of the TV. Date night allows for open communication; regular date night means your communication will continue to grow and improve over time.

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6. Focus on each other (not the kids). Once you have children, almost all conversations are about them. Little kids especially require constant attention (and discussion). It is great just to get out with each other and concentrate on each other. “Generally speaking, it is wise to leave discussions about kids, bills, problems, broken items, negative feelings, and car maintenance out of date night,” says Budzinski.

7. Resolving issues. As much as you may not want to talk about the kids (or the broken toilet), sometimes date night is the only time to do just that. “A great date may be set up like a sandwich. Start with positives (good news at work), talk about problems (challenges with the kids), then finish up with positives (planning for a vacation),” says Krawiec.

8. Create role models for your kids. “By showing your children the importance of investing time into the marriage relationship, you are demonstrating a great role model not only for marriage, but for any relationship,” says Budzinski. Relationships take time devoted to catching up with each other and getting intimately acquainted with the ins and outs of how each of you is thinking. “A wise parent knows that the best gift you can give your child is a happy marriage. A happy marriage can only be attained through investments of time and effort,” she says. Beginning with date night.

How often do you go on date night with your spouse?

Judy Koutsky is the former Editorial Director of KIWI magazine, a green parenting publication. She was also Executive Editor of Parenting.com, AOL Parent and BabyTalk.com. Follow her on twitter @JudyKoutsky.


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