One of the basic human needs we have is variety in life. But if you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, after a number of years, you’ll probably find yourself going on the same kind of date—over and over again.
Shake it up and add variety, and you’ll build greater intimacy in your relationship! Create different focuses and purposes for your dates. My favorite way to do that is switching between the four kinds of dates:
- A date you plan for your spouse
- A date for your spouse plans for you
- A date you plan for yourself
- A date your spouse plans for themself
A Date You Plan for Your Spouse
For this first date, it’s all about your spouse; focus on them. What do you think would make them happiest? Whether or not you think you’d enjoy it, it’s your responsibility to create fun for them. Let’s say you know your wife would love to go to the art museum, and you have no interest in that. Well, you do it for her anyway. And you’re in charge of finding the babysitter!
A Date Your Spouse Plans for You
For date number two, we turn the tables. Your partner will plan whatever they think would be most fun for you, and they get the babysitter. It’s now your responsibility to relax and enjoy it!
A Date You Plan for Yourself
For this date, you choose something you want your spouse to do with you. And you can be a little selfish! Let’s say I want to go watch a football game. My wife isn’t very interested in football, but that’s what I want to do, and I want her company. I take her to a football game and that’s the agreement—that her job is to keep me happy. Then, we’ll have a different focus on the next date!
A Date Your Spouse Plans for Themself
Your spouse plans something they want to do. She loves hiking, and she asks that you go hiking with her. Maybe you don’t like that idea, and you didn’t plan it, but just like she came with you to keep you happy at the football game, you go hiking with her. Just be a good, supportive companion.
Why This Pattern
Switching up your activities will keep your dates full of variety and balance. And this way, there’s no guilt for planning selfish activities, because you know it’ll be fair and balanced in the end. You also get opportunities to stretch, learn, be supportive, and maybe even be humbled by some of the things your spouse may beat you at!
The Next Level—Generating More Date Ideas
As you know, we have physical, emotional, social, mental, and spiritual needs. We should do activities that fulfill those various needs. That makes 5 types of ideas for dates!
Furthermore, we should make sure our date ideas switch between situations that make us work together, play together, and share feelings; those 3 situations are almost guaranteed to bring you closer.
Let’s take those original 4 types of dates and multiply them by the 5 types of ideas; that gives us 20 types of date activities! Now, multiply that by the three types of situations: we have 60 approaches to creating and experiencing dates!
It goes like this: how could you work together in a physical way, or how could you share feelings in a social way? How would your spouse like to do that? How would you like to do that? Now you have so many date ideas! Choose one and plan it.
And you can play with this—perhaps you’re trying to focus on fulfilling your emotional needs. And your wife would like a fun evening with a hike. So, you get some physical exercise you go on a sunset hike and play together, but then you focus on the emotions of serenity you feel as you enjoy nature. You can enjoy that quiet time together, and focusing on that quiet time can bring a different dimension into your relationship and add a twist to your usual hiking mindset.
Remember, research shows the most successful married couples go on dates every week. Depending on your phase of life, that may be easier or harder, but it is certainly a good goal to strive for.
Rodney Limb has always enjoyed listening to people and helping them work out problems and struggles. As a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and a Nationally Licensed Hypnotherapist for over 20 years, he has helped hundreds of couples create a happy and thriving marriage out of disaster. He also provides counseling for anxiety, depression, stress, PTSD and overcoming various behavioral addictions.
A Deeper Look into Spiritual Truths
“You and your spouse need time together to renew your relationship. New perspectives come with time away from the mundane. That means dating is essential. If you have children but few resources, look for creative ways to go on dates. . . . Above all, recognize that a babysitter is cheaper than a divorce.” — Douglas Brinley
God intends for us to spend quality time with our partners. He wants us to continue to have fun together and strengthen all areas of our relationships. And yes, spiritual wellness is part of that. Take time to pray with your partner, go to a temple or church, or read or discuss something that is spiritually important to you. These types of activities will strengthen your relationship more than anything else.