4 Ways Date Nights Are Killing Your Marriage

Amanda Idleman

Contributing Writer
Published May 23, 2024
4 Ways Date Nights Are Killing Your Marriage

We all know date nights are important to a healthy marriage. Dedication to spending time focused on each other and having fun has the power to keep us connected, but with any good thing, there is always the risk that it can turn into a stressor rather than a blessing.

Marriage comes with many seasons, and some make setting aside money and time for a night away from home unreasonable. I always jokingly say no one should get divorced the first year after having a baby because everything about that season is insane! The whole family is thrust into a time of dedication, flexibility, and sleeplessness while that tiny human does all that growing the first year! Not to mention, mothers have months of recovery and adjustment as their bodies bounce back from expanding and contracting in order to bring forth new life. It's a sacred season, but it's not an easy one. Getting away without the baby in tow for a date night might not happen, and rather than letting that be a reason for discouragement, we can accept that this is a special season and things will change again soon enough.

There are other times when we face different obstacles, such as health crises, financial factors, job demands, and more, in which we have to be kind and flexible in how we handle our marriages. To successfully be connected for a lifetime, we have to be resilient and offer abundant grace to each other.

Here are some ways that date nights may be causing extra stress in your marriage:

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Couple on couch family conflict discussion arguing

1. Date Nights Can Be Triggering

While I believe in the power of quality time, my husband and I have gone through seasons of marriage where things were so rocky between us that a date night, just the two of us, became a trigger. Some good advice we received was actually to use that time and money for couples counseling and then set aside an hour or two after counseling to be together in order to process the things you've worked on together.

Another idea to help work towards being able to share time together in a safe way is to plan an outing with friends. They can be a buffer that allows you to have fun in the same space without the same pressure as a one-on-one date night to talk through everything you are facing at the moment. When things are truly rocky in a relationship, building up positive interactions in any way you can to help promote goodwill towards each other is very helpful. Having fun in a group setting, going to a community event together, volunteering together, or planning a family outing can be better ways to create a positive environment in your home while working towards healing and reconciliation.

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Spouse disappointed on couch in marriage

2. Unreasonable Expectations for Dates Lead to Disappointment

High expectations set by regular date nights can lead to disappointment and disillusionment when they fail to deliver magical moments. As I mentioned before, marriage is a marathon, not a sprint! We go through so many different seasons together and are offered different blessings and challenges in each one. As a couple, we need to be wise and realistic about what we are expecting from each other.

We can take note from those early dating years when we were young, and most of us were broke. Our hearts fluttered just being in the same room together; Wendy's made for a great place to share a sweet treat (I love those Frosty's), and just spending time talking was enough. Keeping it simple can help ease the stress we can put on date night. I've found this especially to be true for birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. There are so many times I've had my feelings hurt because my spouse did not fulfill some secret wish I had for him to fulfill!

Anniversaries can be extra tricky because we almost always expect romance from each other. To be honest, we've spent more of our 16 anniversaries either having to tend to a sick kid, being broke, or fighting because the romance just wasn't happening in that season. I wish that I would have said whatever we bring to the table on this special day to say 'I love you' is enough rather than letting unreasonable expectations lead to conflict.

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married couple managing finances money credit card paying

3. Financial Stress Can Make Dates Unwise

Have you gone out to eat recently? It's pretty much standard to spend $15-$20 per adult no matter where you eat out on the very cheap end of things. Babysitters cost about $15 an hour. You can expect to spend even more if you add an activity like going to the movies. It's totally okay if that kind of financial investment is just unwise for you at this moment. If our dates are contributing to debt or financial insecurity, it's best we pause these things until our circumstances change.

That doesn't mean you don't take time to be together in a special way but there are so many ways to do just that without spending money you don't have. You can take a walk together, cook dinner at home side-by-side, plan a game night, movie night, go for a bike ride, spend time at the library, and more! The important thing is the investment to be present with each other; no money required to accomplish that!

In our social media-driven world, it's easier than ever to see all the Jones around us planning amazing outings, couples vacations, baby moons, and more. We can get sucked into wrong thinking that tells us that we are entitled to these kinds of experiences. The reality is few truly have the financial means to regularly plan expensive outings with their partner. For most of our marriage, we have lived on just enough, so dates that cost us money were not really in the cards. We got creative and still were able to cultivate intimacy without taking a European vacation together. The Bible tells us to be content in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11). Finding contentment in our financial position is a free way to live!

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Married couple on couch resting and reading books date at home

4. Date Nights Can Feel Like an Obligation

We don't want date night to feel like a hassle. Life is so full of obligations that we don't want our commitment to each other to be one more thing on a long to-do list. Consider how we can infuse spontaneity into our relationship. How can we open our hearts to things that feel like a chance to connect on the fly rather than over-planning our lives?

Maybe keep some nights on the calendar open so if you feel up to it you can grab dinner together or go for a walk and catch up. You don't need elaborate plans for weekly or monthly dates that feel more like another task in order to love each other well. Just make space in your life to be together, pressure free.

If date night is not working for your marriage, you have permission to remove it from the calendar. Try alternatives such as honoring each other with everyday acts of kindness, planning time together to connect at home rather than going out, spending time in counseling, and more!

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Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. She has most recently published a devotional, Comfort: A 30 Day Devotional Exploring God's Heart of Love for Mommas. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.

Originally published Monday, 27 May 2024.