Why Dating is Important for Marriage
Author: Gerald Zingraf | Source: For your marriage
Date nights improve marriages, according to common sense and a comprehensive, quantitative study conducted by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. The study showed improvements for married couples who go on frequent dates across categories such as happiness, commitment, communication, parenthood stability, and community integration. The evidence also showed that married couples who devote time together at least once a week not only have lower divorce rates, but also increase the perceived quality of their marriage. That is enough evidence to start dating your spouse more!
In an article about the study, W. Bradford Wilcox and Jeffrey Dew highlight five reasons why date nights have strong correlations to healthy marriages: date nights provide opportunities for communication, novelty, eros, strengthening commitment, and de-stressing.
Communication: The importance of good communication is obvious. We have all experienced the consequences of poor communication with our spouse. Often times, it leads to unnecessary arguments or awkward tension. Poor communication will almost always lead to mismanaged expectations, which in turn lead to disappointment. These negative feelings will slowly pull you apart. Dating throughout marriage will combat these kinds of miscues.
Novelty: Date nights help create new experiences in relationships that have fallen into the mundane ruts that we naturally gravitate to as creatures of habit. If you find yourself stuck in the same routine every day, a date night can be something you will look forward to all week. If you plan a creative date, you will also create fun memories together that you can cherish later on. Either way, date nights will make your future, and your past, better.
Eros: The “spark” and novelty of date nights contribute to the eros – romantic love – aspect of relationships and can make you feel like you’ve just started dating each other all over again. Who doesn’t want to feel those butterflies you felt when you first started dating? Planning consistent dates with your husband or wife will help you fall in love with each other all over again week after week.
Commitment: By opening up to each other on dates, spouses build strong bonds that solidify their commitment to each other. This is important for the inevitable hard times that hit us all. When either of you are at your low point, will you have each other to pull you back up? How strong is your emotional bond with each other? If it needs some improvement, then odds are you aren’t dating each other enough.
De-stressing: Lastly, who doesn’t need stress relief every once in a while? Date nights are fun! Your spouse isn’t just there for you for the tough times, but for enjoyable times too. Relax together. Enjoy each other. Make memories together during well thought-out date nights. You will never regret the time you put in planning a creative date instead of watching the next episode of a show you watch too much.
Sadly, the business of life often gets in the way of planning intentional dates with your spouse. Date night ends up being dinner and a movie every time. These dates aren’t bad, but they can become stale if they are the only form of date night you have together. The repetitive structure does not always foster opportunities to open up to one another during the date.
My wife Michelle and I created Date to Door as a way to help strengthen marriages by planning creative dates and sending spouses all of the ingredients they need for the date in one box. For example, one month’s box included a red candle, empty pill bottles, canvases, paint, brushes, blank coupons, and eight tube socks. Date instructions were sent to tie all of those things together for a creative date night.