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  • Watching TV On Your Couch Is Not Date Night, Say These Relationship Experts

    Here's how they define date night and how to overcome obstacles.
    by Dahl D. Bennett .
Watching TV On Your Couch Is Not Date Night, Say These Relationship Experts
PHOTO BY Pixabay
  • Experts say “date nights make relationships” and to commit to this particular time — rain or shine, busy or not busy, Valentine’s Day or not — will make a world of difference for you and your spouse beyond the romance department. But you and your hubby must be rolling your eyes because you are thinking, “Who will watch the children, duh?”

    Researchers, psychologists, authors, and founders of the relationship site The Gottman Institute, Drs. John and Julie Gottman, say, “Date nights are always doable, even if it means getting a little creative in carving your time out together.”

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    Define ‘date night’

    First, the Gottmans, who are also authors of the book, Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, suggest that both you and your spouse define what it date night is and what it isn’t. And no, they warn, watching Netflix on the couch together while scrolling through your Instagram feed is not considered a date night. So, this early, cross out any activity that involves the screen — or one that makes you avoid talking to each other. 

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    The Gottmans say date night can be morning or afternoon. They define it as “a pre-planned time where the two of you leave your work life and work-in-the-home life and spend a set amount of time focusing on each other, and really talking and listening to each other.”

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    How to overcome ‘date night’ obstacles

    The couple says date night can freak out many couples, especially those with young children. It just seems like a luxury or a ‘freak act of nature’ for many. That is not the sole obstacle.

    The Gottmans name three of the biggest obstacles that get in the way of date night and provide pieces of advice. They hope it can help couples navigate their way around it, so there are no excuses or guilt for leaving the kids at home several times a month to nurture your relationship. 

    Obstacle #1: Time

    Lack of time is often the number one excuse that prevents couples from committing to a regular night out together. Next to watching the kids, parents think they barely have time for other responsibilities and obligations.

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    “But date night is more than an obligation — it’s a commitment to your relationship,” argue the Gottmans. And “unless someone is in the emergency room, make date night a ‘no matter what’ event,” they add.

    Date nights should be treated like celebrations the same way we set aside time for birthdays, anniversary’s and, yes, Valentine’s Day. It should be sacred because it is a time to honor your relationship. It can be as long an entire day or just an hour, what’s important is both of you show up, say the Gottmans.

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    Obstacle #2: Money

    Sure, date nights can be expensive, but here’s where both you and your spouse can be creative, say the Gottmans. The open-air spaces and modest parks in the mall can make great date places to talk and share a simple snack. A fancy dinner would be great once in a while, so, too, would be a lunch prepared at home, placed in a basket, and eaten on a picnic blanket at the Sunken Garden in Diliman or in Rizal Park.

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    For once, leave the car at home and walk hand in hand to a newly-opened neighborhood cafe. The point is, if there’s a will, then there are infinite ways to have a date night that will highlight the gab rather than the glitzy way you spent it. 

    Obstacle #3: Childcare

    This is probably the most common reason couples give up on a regular date night. All we can say is if you treat date nights as sacred, then have faith that the universe will match this intention and make it work for you. And it would be best if you worked at it too.

    Look at it the way the Gottmans do: “Children are incredibly resilient, and by showing your commitment to your relationship with your partner, you’re nurturing your children by ensuring that they will be raised by parents in a healthy and stable relationship.”

    If you have a helper at home, then lucky you. If not, maybe Tita, Tito, and Lolo and Lola can watch the kids for a while. If date night is just in the neighborhood, and Ate or Kuya are responsible enough to watch the little one, then spending an hour or two together shouldn’t be a source of guilt. The point is, no excuses should get in the way of this commitment for your family’s sake.

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