You know what relationship experts say: The recipe to a long-lasting, happy marriage is making one another a priority. But when you throw in two full-time careers, children, and other responsibilities, finding time for a just-the-two-of-us night starts to become a tall order. And though you can read all of the best advice books from top-tier psychologists, some of the best suggestions can come from those who have been in your shoes. Here, real couples who have made date night a commitment in their marriage share how to create the habit in yours.
Remember to do something for yourselves.
"My husband and I have had a standing date night for several years. It came about a bit unconventionally. We have a young daughter and had wanted more children, but life had other plans. So when our daughter was seven, we sold the crib and baby clothes we had been holding onto, got a regular Saturday-night babysitter and enjoyed the heck out of ourselves! Each week was different. It could be a gorgeous dinner and drinks in downtown Boston or just shopping at Costco and getting a hot dog! But knowing that our sitter would be there every Saturday night at 6 p.m. gave us the freedom to do whatever we wanted." — Caroline and Stephen O'Brien
Take turns surprising one another.
"We find date night is important for any relationship because it forces you to take a moment to appreciate each other and the time you have together without all of life's distractions. Each month we set aside one day or night where we take turns planning a date to surprise the other one with. In April 2017, my husband surprised me with date night in Brooklyn Heights. We ate at the restaurant my grandfather grew up eating at, Ferdinando's, and walked the Brooklyn Promenade, finishing with ice cream at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. Then this month, I get to surprise him." — Jenna Guarneri and Joseph Amato
Book a recurring sitter.
"We always have a sitter booked for Friday nights. Sometimes it's just for an hour so we can have a drink after work and decompress before dinner with the kids; other times they stay later whether we're going to a movie or out to dinner. The critical thing is that there are no logistics to organize, it's a done-deal! The only thing for us to decide is how we're going to spend our date night together." — Rosena and Tony Sammi
Make it fun.
"We try to do something different or something we've never done before on our date nights. We often reflect back to the days when we were first dating, and the effort put forth to impress and court each other. It was a lot of fun, right?! Plan something that will give you that same feeling again. Also, dress nice for the occasion, because that shows your significant other that you've thought things through and that your date is important." — Daisy and George Teh
Write it down.
"You prioritize things you value, so we both take the time to acknowledge how great it is to spend time and reconnect one on one, and how much it impacts everything from communication to romance. When you remind yourself of how good it is for you as a couple, you're going to stick to it. If you predict a busy weekend, squeeze in a dinner or even a coffee with each other, out of the house, without any distraction, during the week. That said, you have to put these things on the calendar—commit to it! If it's not written down, it's not real." — Sabina and Alexander Hitchen
Make it fit into your routine.
"Both my husband and I run our own businesses and are crazed most of the time, but we make sure that we have at least two dates together a week. But they're not as 'date-y' as you might think. Instead, we make it fit into our schedule. Whether it's taking a Pilates or yoga class together then having breakfast during the week, or having a dinner out with some wine. We try to savor that special time so we can reconnect and actually talk, minus the craziness of life!" — Colleen Mathis Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez
Limit the kid talk.
"We allow ourselves ten minutes of kid catch up and then we focus on us. We talk about travel, current events, work. Also don't shy away from any marital issues because you don't want to 'ruin' the date—that's the whole point of preventative maintenance. You wouldn't take your car for an oil change and not mention the weird clanging noise. Use the focused alone time to check in on how you and your partner are feeling." — Jaime Primak Sullivan and Michael Sullivan
Make it on a weekday instead of the weekend.
"We have four little ones running around, so making time to be alone each Wednesday evening for just a few hours is vital because we can't even hear ourselves think the rest of the week. We spend that time basically disconnected and almost always choose an activity we wouldn't do by ourselves. Shopping for things isn't an activity—mini golf, laser tag, and adventure sports are big for us because we get to let some healthy competitive energy out, be healthy, and then have something substantial to talk about over dinner instead of what bills need to be paid." — Bryce Gruber-Hermon and Yossef Hermon