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Tips for a successful date night
By Jamie Lober, Today's Family Writer

When was the last time you had a date night?

If you’re a parent, it might have been awhile. Whether you are single or married, everyone needs an evening out with other adults, and that means more than once a month!

But when your week consists of worries and commitments over kids, jobs and everything else that gets in the way of life, it’s hard to relax and let yourself have fun.

And yet, experts agree that if you make a point to take time out for yourself, you will actually become a better, and happier, parent as a result.

“The biggest thing, and sometimes the hardest, is to relax,” says Dr. Joseph Rock, psychologist with the Cleveland Clinic. While this may sound like common sense, the reality is that people get worked up over date nights. Both parties want to make sure their rare nights out are fun-filled. Rock suggests scaling back on big expectations, and focus more on just doing what makes you happy. “It is tempting to rely on what you think the other person will like, or what will make them happy, but you need to consider your own needs as well.”

Consider the other person, but do not let them rule the date. “The man might suggest what he wants to do, but he should also ask what his partner likes, such as the foods she likes to eat, places she likes to go,” Rock says. “If the other person wants to do something different, compromise is the key—although one should never lose sight of his or her own comfort zone. For example, some people aren’t comfortable in a big crowd, while others love it.”

Both parties should be flexible and try to find common interests so the evening is enjoyable for all involved.

“If you prefer a quiet evening one-on-one and the other person likes to go out with other people, you might want to find another couple that both of you like and go out together,” Rock suggests. “You also want to be in a situation where you have a chance for interaction. A movie, concert or play is great, but you also might want to end the evening going out for a drink or coffee afterwards, so you have time to talk.”

He adds that established couples should avoid the traps of talking about household issues, kids or finances on date night. “It’s a good idea to talk about each other and the relationship and focus on you and the other person as spouses or partners instead of as parents or as workers.”

Another important part of date night is making your date feel good. “Be complimentary. Focus on positive things the other person is doing and don’t be afraid to say nice things,” Rock says. “Look at the other person and have mild, intimate touching, making sure you are focused on what is going on in that moment without getting distracted."

“With Valentine’s Day coming up, you can do anything from trying a new French or Mediterranean cuisine to going ballroom or salsa dancing or even relaxing together at a couples’ spa,” Rock says, “but people need to scale back their expectations because if you think it’s going to be a certain way and get disappointed when it doesn’t go how you think, it can ruin your whole evening.”

The goal is to establish a connection. “It’s not always about being sexy. It is about tending to the other person and making them feel important. That right there is more attractive and romantic than anything else you can do.”

If you follow this great advice by Dr. Rock, you just may make date night a weekly Friday or Saturday night event. And your kids may benefit too!


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