Re-energize your marriage

Tired of Marriage? Start Dating by Dr. Alan Stafford

When the romance has trickled out of your marriage and each day seems to blend in to the next, try these easy ways to re-energize your marriage and your love life.

Start by thinking back to your dating days. If dating was fun, but marriage has become routine-start dating again. Of course, I mean start dating your spouse. Think of him as your lifetime date. Do all the fun things you did when you were deciding whether to marry him. What did you do for fun? Did you play sports, go out to dinner, or go shopping? Make dating your spouse a priority. Fit these activities back into your schedule.

Plan a date night for once a week. If you don't have any kids, your schedules are probably pretty full. Schedule date night in advance, the same as you would for any other social or professional meeting. If you do have children, hire a babysitter to come over on the same night every week. This will save you from having to find a babysitter every time you want to go out. And, it will strengthen your commitment to date night. For example, plan to have the sitter come over every Thursday, but tell her not to call before arriving. This puts the burden on you to cancel and removes one of your excuses for not keeping the date. By planning ahead, very little effort is involved in the preparation of date night. This makes it much more likely you will get out of the house and keep the promise you made to each other.

When you go out for your date, do something that renews your bond. Watching a movie or going to a concert may be fun, but they don't give you the opportunity to talk to one another. If you decide to see a movie, follow it up with dessert or coffee. There's value in just sitting alone together, face to face, and talking.

Your date night should be all about you and your partner so don't invite friends or family. And definitely leave the kids at home! Allow yourselves enough time to make a night of it. If you schedule only an hour or two out of the house, you will be limited to doing the same thing every date night. Opening up the evening allows you to try new things and decreases the stress of having a curfew.

Since you'll be dating about three or four times a month, make sure to try new things. Go out to dinner at a new restaurant, go out for coffee, play a board game, go dancing, go for a picnic, go for a bike ride or a swim. The possibilities are limited only by your imaginations. If you get stuck for ideas, try this: each person sets the agenda for alternate date nights. For example, your husband plans the next date night. He makes all the decisions about what, where, when. But, he doesn't tell you. You get to wonder all week what the date will be. And then on date night, let him be your Master of Ceremonies. You don't get to complain or criticize-just go with the flow. The following week, it's your turn. This keeps some surprise and excitement in the dates because even weekly date nights can get routine.

What you do on date nights is not important. What is important is that you are together. Bonding, reconnecting, sharing. And reliving for just a few hours each week, those happy times when you were single but wanted to spend the rest of your life with this person. Well now it is the rest of your life. Keep the romance alive; keep the fun alive. Make your marriage a lifelong date.

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