April 10th, 2015
When there is trouble in a relationship, it is common for couples to look for solutions within something comfortable and easy: A night out. You dress up, you make reservations, and you splurge on a nice bottle of wine. Whether it’s an attempt at putting some spark back into the marriage or smoothing over a conflict, you are hoping that a little wining and dining will make you both remember the moments early in your relationship when it was simpler and more fun. You may have even read that date night is a perfect way to get your relationship back on track.
But date night will not help couples in troubled relationships rekindle or repair. It’s a Band-Aid, and it ensures avoidance of the real problems and real emotions that are plaguing your relationship. Date night is a proactive action not a reactive action, meaning date night is great for keeping the conversation going but not so great for getting the other person to talk. In other words, date night does not have the power to force your partner to apologize or bring the passion back into the bedroom, and it certainly does not have the power to get your partner to like your parents (wink).
Dating isn’t the problem
A date night won’t resolve your conflicts or ease your fears because dating is not the issue. Dating has never been the issue. You were great at dating, which is exactly why you decided to get married. And now even when emotions are high and you feel like running away, you must learn to thrive in your marriage. So the thing you must remember is, building a rock solid marriage is not easy, but it is worth it! Your marriage is worth resolving conflict, learning each other’s love language and having those difficult conversations. But just in case, you are still thinking a date can save your marriage, let me go more into detail.
When date night won’t help
Think about this: When was the last time you felt excited to be alone with your partner? If it’s been more than a week, a date night will not help because one night of dinner and a movie will not solve seven days of dreading to come home. If you have not had sex within three weeks, a date night will not help. You have been lying next to your sweetie for 21 days without showing them affection, and you feel a date night will bring the spark back? I promise you there are deeper issues that need to be resolved. If you suspect your partner is cheating but you are scared to confront him or her, a date night will definitely not help because a night out will not answer your questions or diminish your suspension.
And it even goes beyond dates: vacations, family outings, romantic evenings or erotic play are all detours from addressing the real issues in your marriage. You may imagine that having a sexy evening will reignite a spark, but it will do nothing about your long-term yearning for intimacy. Sex alone cannot give you a stronger connection with your partner, so you are left feeling empty and frustrated because your emotional needs are not met.
What you need more than a date night
So we’ve established that date night is not the solution for a troubled marriage. So what is? A whole lot of truth.
No matter what your problems are, you must stop pretending everything is OK and put on your big girl underwear or tough man briefs and start telling the truth. Tell the truth about your needs and wants but also start asking your partner what they need from you. At the end of the day, you both are on the same team. And if you both are on the same team, then a win-win situation is the goal.
If you’ve been avoiding your conflicts and pain, then I know your heart is screaming, “say something!” Maybe you are so fearful of losing your partner or creating more conflict that you remain silent. But is a healthy relationship built on fear? No. A healthy relationship should not and will not survive on fear. And on a side note, if you are not being honest with your partner, I am willing to bet you are also not being honest with yourself.
So, take the time to open a dialogue and have a nitty gritty, open and honest, truth-telling session with yourself and your partner. Be brave and be prepared to not just speak the truth but hear it as well. That’s the beginning of positive change and reconnecting with your partner.
If the fear is too great, that’s when a good couples therapist like myself can facilitate that conversation and ensure you feel safe and supported while having it. You can contact me at (864) 559-8181 to schedule an appointment. I can help people in Greenville, SC, and surrounding areas.
Save the date night for when you are undistracted and can 100% enjoy being with the love of your life!