Is “Date Night” Mandatory for a Happy Marriage?

A cozy  campfire in our backyard

Date Night-talking by the campfire in our backyard

If you’re visiting from Proverbs 31 Encouragement for Today Devotions, welcome!

When Dale and I were raising our five children, we maybe had three official “date nights,” ever. I know, it’s hard to believe.  There were a lot reasons why we didn’t. I don’t think we ever discussed these things. It was just what we did because. . .

~ The cost

~ Where do you find a babysitter for five children- that you trust? (Family didn’t live nearby)

~ At home date nights were more romantic

~ He worked hard all day, he didn’t need to go out to be fulfilled- he just needed his wife-happy

~I just needed him fully present and my basic needs were met

~ I didn’t like leaving our kids-(I know, it’s crazy but true)

When we went out to eat, or saw a movie, the kids came with us. When we went anywhere, they were with us. But everywhere we went, Dale and I were always on a continual “date night.” Even while feeding and talking to all five daughters, Dale and I were totally engaged with one another. Always touching, watching each other, and listening intently to the others’ every move and thought.

Some nights after the kids went to bed we had work to do. We did it together. I sat right next to him and we worked, side by side.

Many nights after the kids went to bed (with phones, television, and computers off) we talked for hours on end. We never ever got tired of talking and we still haven’t.

Some nights we watched movies together, side by side. Often one of our girls would get out of bed and come to us because they couldn’t sleep and lay in our arms. We  loved it–aren’t they adorable when they’re sleeping?

Some nights we went to bed early and had a better “date night” than if went had gone to the finest restaurant and walked the ocean shore at sunset.

I never once regretted not going out on scheduled “date nights.” Raising a family is a lot of work. There are stresses that constantly threaten the family. So, believe me, you need date night but maybe just not the world’s idea of going out for your “date night.”  The greatest need of a happy marriage is Christ in the center.  Then living together with a oneness mind set, being romantically engaged, and loving each other extravagantly- every day.

Here are a few Date Night Ideas:

1. Make a campfire and talk about the deeper things of Christ (oh yeah)

2. Stargazing on a blanket (spring and summer) talking about future dreams

3. Read a book to each other in front of the fireplace (fall and winter)

4. Make your favorite desert (great cake recipe) and eat by candle light

5. Listen to worship music and worship Him together

6. Pray together

7. Write a letter telling him all the reasons why you fell in love with him and how he has fulfilled your dreams and read it to him.  (Then you can discuss how you’re going to pay the credit cards off… just joking or not!)

8. Cook his favorite meal, make it special and enjoy after the kids go to bed

9. Wear his shirt as a nightgown, then watch a good movie in bed.

10. Tell me your idea!

What would be your perfect date night? Tell me in the comment section below,  it will enter your name in the drawing to win my downloadable marriage message called Extravagant Love and a $20 gift certificate to Target for your date night!

Good Wife Recipe


  • Debbie said:

    Thank you for sharing this. I am having a hard time not crying. I wish I had seen this when my husband I were married 23 years ago and while our children were still small. Soon all of our kids will be grown and gone. And I worry sometimes about what my husband and I will do. We will be fine, I know God is on our side. But your ideas for date night are awesome; and i am going to put them to the test:) Thanks again!

  • Kim said:

    You mentioned one of our favorite stay at home dates, watching a movie together. But another idea is to find a recreation your spouse loves and participate I it together. My husband loves music, so we sometimes watch concert series on TV or just snuggle up on the couch and listen to music on pandora radio. I like to play card games, so we will play after kids in bed.

  • My dream date night would be to get really dressed up (my husband too) and go out to a beautiful restaurant overlooking the ocean. To talk with my husband about how God has blessed us with Himself, our children, friends and family. After dinner we would walk and talk on the beach about nice things (not problems) and then go home to a quiet house because the children are peaceful!

  • Kathy graff said:

    I love just talking with my husband about what The Lord has done in our lives. I've never thought about that as "date night" material, but that is when I feel extra close to him. I'm amazed at God's timing and goodness at bringing me to this blog. We're going through some struggles right now and this is just the place (this blog), that I needed to be. We too have 5 children...married 27 years.

  • Diane said:

    Thank you for sharing. Our children have gone to college and moved out and at first the house was so empty. Now we have date night on Fridays and it has been God sent. We struggled for years but like you said I had to take a good look at my own attitude and change my thoughts and actions to see my faults. Now I look forward and it usually consist of going out to eat and getting away from the tv and phones. We both own our own business so we are busy and its hard to get away from everything. But God has blessed us so much. I am blessed!

  • Kristen said:

    I am so glad to read this post. Many "friends" make me feel guilty for not having "date nights" with my wonderful husband. One of our favorites is to put the kids to bed and play cards or board games...playful is fun.

  • Ruth said:

    Thank you for this reminder of what is important. It's not the money spent on an outing but rather the time spent together, time spent working through challenges and time spent delighting in the Lord and His ways. Leaning to make our love bountiful and seamless is a huge part of growing together. After all we are trying to immitate the love that Christ has for his 'church'. Keeping that in the forefront of our mind is so important, and reminds us of our need to strive for a higher level of accomplishment.

  • Teresa said:


    Your Proverbs 31 devotion really spoke to me. My 17 year marriage has been an on off struggle for quite some time. Because my husband feels he can speak his mind , no matter how hurtful. I spend a lot of time feeling very angry at him. How do I have a Godly marriage when my husband isn't necessarily a devout Christian? I know he believes in God and Jesus, but I consider him more of an agnostic than a Christian. We do not regularly attend church or read the Bible.

    I have been a stay at home mom since my two children were born-another area of contention and resentment for my husband. They are now 13 and 10. We also live on a small 18 acre farm, so I am most responsible for the many animals we have as well as the care and maintenance of the gardens, yard and home. We want to be as self sustaining as possible, which also requires additional work. I just spoke with my husband, he gave me my list of expectations for the day and reminded me that he is the boss. If I don't get these things done, I will certainly hear about it. I am always anxious when he gets home from work-dinner better be ready then too. I can't get my children to get off their computers to help me so I get scolded for that as well.

    We are older parents-I'm 48 and he is 59. My husband will also be retiring next year which adds an additional financial burden as we we lose a chunk of his salary. Farming is not cheap, especially since we have to buy hay. Husband also has expensive tastes and likes. We live in a very economically depressed area so my finding a good job is unlikely. I also worry about my 87 year old mother who lives by herself 300 miles away.

    My husband has a very stressful job and provides for us very well-but it seems to comes at a price-for the entire family. We live well, not extravagantly, but certainly have to work for it. There is always plenty to do. In my heart, I know God has provided faithfully, but most days I am so hurt or angry I forget. I know I am rambling, but I have no one to talk to and I don't know what I expect from writing this. To make matters worse, I have just started having symptoms of peri/menopause. Obviously, my husband and I do not communicate very well as I tend to shut down.

    If you gotten this far, thanks and sorry for this long, rambling post.

    Confused in Michigan

    • lrf said:

      @Teresa/Confused in Michigan: Saying a prayer for you now. I don't have answers , I have marriage struggles as well well BUT i do know that prayer is the only way to make sense of things. May God wrap His arms around you & May He give you peace & strength for each day.

      • Teresa said:

        Thank you lrf. Saying a prayer for you and hope you feel God's loving arms around you as well.

    • Karla H. said:

      We are older parents, too and my husband retired a few years ago. Our youngest is 12. We're nine years apart in age so I have about 6 more years before I can retire. While I can't relate to the farming, the extra stress of working anywhere and raising children is overwhelming at times! Praying for peace and strength for you and a united perspective in your marriage. Praying God would especially touch you both to open the lines of communication again. And I pray God floods your home and heart with His Presence!

  • Amy M said:

    I would like for the two of us to go to our favorite resturaunt then come home and watch our wedding video together. It was such a wonderful day that I would enjoy watching it together again!

  • Amy said:

    Our perfect date night is enjoying a nice dinner we have cooked together and then swing dancing in our living room afterwards, just enjoying being with one another.

  • Jenna said:

    Going to do something fun together without the an amusement park or a baseball game. :)

  • Christine said:

    I must admit that I am one of those that think we need to leave the house for a date night. I've even heard it from marriage ministry leaders. And sometimes we do. Most of the time - we don't. And that's okay! Somehow, reading your post has taken some of the pressure off - thank you for that! Honestly, by the end of the day - we're grateful to spend a little time reading on our own with legs entwined. We hold hands while walking. We flirt while cooking dinner, as our kids saw, "Ewwww..." and giggle at us. Sometimes our dates consist of passing one another as we run to nurse sick kids on either side of the house. Romance takes effort. I've realized that through witnessing marriages under attack, including my own. When I read the title of your P31 devotion, Extravagant Love, I thought it was referring to Christ's love for us. I never thought of the love between me and my husband as extravagant, but it should be. LOVE that theme for my marriage and I'm owning it today! I'm praying it over all marriages!

  • Hope said:

    The perfect date would be to just sit on the beach (or anywhere outside) and talk. Just to be at peace with one another.

  • Crystal Green said:

    My perfect date night in, would be (once our kids are asleep), to snuggle on the couch and watch a good movie together, and then lay in our bed and have pillow talk for hours until one of us falls asleep first.
    My perfect date night out would be to have dinner alone by candle light, being served outside by a waiter, in the beautiful spring weather, listening to romantic love songs played by solo or duet of a pianist and/or a saxophone player. Then we would go for a carriage ride led by the man and his white horse, riding in a white carriage, while snuggling and expressing our love and devotion to one another!!!

  • Karen said:

    I love your inspiration! My husband loves to ride his Harley. Perfect date night night would be for him to choose the destination point, and then for 'us' to have dinner while talking about the 'good' things, to listen to each other with our ears (and eyes) like we use to do 37 years ago! The kids have been gone for awhile now, it is so time for us to reconnect and enjoy the rest of our lives together! Thank you!

  • Kathy said:

    I appreciated your post. I love the passage of scripture you had chose to build your marriage around, Col 3: 12-17. At this time our marriage is having major problems, so I am not at date night yet, but listening to what is most important to him. I need to keep the counters cleaned off.

  • Tiffany R said:

    Our budget is tight and the kids are old enough to be left for a short period of time at home without a babysitter. So, we drive to the local coffee shop and each get a cup of regular coffee and just talk. We plan for the future or talk about the stuff happening today. By getting out of the house even for an hour, we stop working or being mom and dad and just be ourselves. It makes for a relaxing date that costs less than $5.

  • Bree said:

    Any night that we can be alone together, enjoying eachother, is a perfect date night. Whether out or at home just showing an attitude of appreciation for one another that sometimes gets lost in the day to day grind.

  • Anna W said:

    Some of our favorite date nights have been spent walking the paths in a local park-talking, sharing, and dreaming together.

  • Kelcie said:

    Love this! I've always felt overwhelmed by well-meaning folks who tell us we should go out on dates once a week. Once every six months is a stretch for us! Thanks for the ideas. And thanks for the encouragement on your P31 post too. I really needed that reminder!

  • Laura said:

    My marriage is fairly new, we celebrated our third anniversary in May and have a beautiful baby girl who is 15 months old. There are a lot of days that I spend hurt and angry over something my husband said, add arguments about money, or the lack thereof, and that pretty much sums up my days lately. I've been so tempted to pack up our baby girl and just go. I know that isn't what God would want me to do, but I feel so stuck sometimes and so lost. Your post today was like a lifeline and a reminder that I'm really not alone in this struggle. I do love my husband, but I'm not equipped to deal with the anger issues he has been holding on to since his childhood. Am hoping to win your conference call, if not I'll be saving up and buying as soon as possible. Thank you, Laura

  • Courtney said:

    Sharon, thank you for sharing this. My husband and I have only been married 19 months. It has been a rough year for us. We've moved 10 hours from family and friend for his job; my depression issues; and having a hysterectomy due to health issues. We do not have any kids, however, we have a three year old American Bulldog. I have that dog soooo much! (And my hubby, too!) Since moving, I haven't been working and I'm at home with the dog everyday. I spoil her and treat her as if she was a child. She's totally confused and doesn't know she's a dog! We only have one car because my husband is the only one working and to cut cost. He's an accountant and work late hours. It's rare that I'm up when he gets home. And on the weekends, he's catching up on sleep. I feel bad by asking for a date night when money is already tight and he's tired when I'm at home all day. Your tips are every doable and much needed before we start to become roommates instead of a married couple.

  • Joanna said:

    One of my favorite things to do with my husband is to turn off the tv and play a board game! Staying at home in our pjs is sometimes much more fun than getting dressed to go out to eat--especially when we're exhausted from working all day!

  • Crystal said:

    My husband and I have been married now for 28 years. Our date night has been on Friday nights for the last month while our youngest son was in Summer College. He is 17 and will soon be finishing high school and taking his flight from home., and the other two boys have moved already away from home. This past month I have had my first experience with the empty nest. My husband has been wonderful to me and keeps telling me that we have done our duty as parents in the right way. He is very encouraging to me.
    I need to learn more ways to show him extravagant love and how to have date nights more often now.
    He does not go to church with me, but sends me on my way. He knows that I am not happy if I am not involved in church. He is a wonderful man and I know that God put us together. Lately we have spent most of our nights side by side on the couch watching our favorite TV shows and taking turns cleaning the dishes (unless he falls asleep before they get done, then I do them on his night)

  • Crystal said:

    The perfect date night would be for my husband to fish down at our creek while I sit nearby reading a GREAT book. Then having a nice supper (hopefully the fish he caught) and relaxing with a good movie with a glass of wine and ending the night in each others arms!!!

  • Teresa said:

    I think packing a picnic supper with my husbands favorites & then being ready when he comes home (or on the weekend) to take him to a local park is fun. we then to talk & walk.. Its a relaxing way to spend time together.

  • Melissa Hicks said:

    The perfect date night.....just being together. It doesn't matter what we do or where we go (if anywhere). It is all about being together and keeping God first and foremost in our marriage. That being said it isn't always easy :) We don't celebrate Valentine's day or even our anniversary with anything other than what we do every other day. We try to always remember the love we felt for each other when we first fell in love and got married and put that in the way we spend all our "date nights" together.

  • Elizabeth said:

    My perfect date night would be anything my husband had planned ahead of time...seriously, it doesn't matter what we were doing. It would be special because he had thought about it and planned it in advance.

  • For me the perfect date night involves recreating our honeymoon. My husband and I celebrated our honeymoon (and fifth anniversary) at an inn in Carmel, California. The inn had balconies outside the rooms and a deck that everyone would have breakfast out on and evening snacks set up by the inn. I start the date in my mind by planning it all out while my husband is working a Saturday (he has two a month). I get in a total date night frame of mind and pick up flowers, cheeses, crackers, meats and fruits. I will then set up the table with all the goodies, flowers, and beverages. I also have special plates and napkins that I set out. When my husband arrives, I greet him with a kiss, and an outfit for him to change into that fits the relaxation mode. We will then spend time out on our small deck chatting, listening to music, and insisting to one another that if we simply close our eyes, we will hear the sweet ocean breezes. I have also set everything up in a similar way for a continental deck breakfast too. :) Ahhhh I just love the memories.

  • Stephanie said:

    One of our favorite date nights when the budget is tight is game night in! We either pick a board game we already have or buy one at the thrift store, make a snack and spend the night in friendly challenge. We always have a bunch of laughs and enjoy each other's company.

    Would be fun with old school video games as well (anyone remember SNES?)

  • Stephanie said:

    Our favorite date night when the budget is tight is game night! We either pick a board game we already have or buy one at the thrift store (which can be a lot of fun all in itself), make a snack and spend the night in friendly challenge. We always have a bunch of laughs and enjoy each other's company.

    Would be fun with old school video games as well (anyone remember SNES?)

  • Miriam Bridger said:

    We have five, too!!! We have 4 boys and 1 girl all under the age of 9,
    I can totally relate to all these great ideas and can't wait to read more!
    My favorite at home date is our Thursday night bubble bath and massage! Too tired by the
    weekend to be creative so I start thinking and planning on Monday: )
    We lived overseas for many years and didn't always have a bath tub big enough
    for both of us to take a bath together so we would take turns soaking in tub while
    the other person massaged the persons feet, hands, etc.....then after a great
    massage and conversation, we headed to bed : ). You can do fun things to lead up to it
    like text the other person during the day "6 hours until our bath date" or set an alarm on
    your smart phone as a reminder 2 hours ahead of time. My husband many times
    has to work late so I surprise him with a note when he gets to the door, "I am in the tub"
    or leave a trail of something (votive candles are real cheap). Now we have a big tub we squeeze
    into together, it's tight but the point is we are together!

  • Ann said:

    My favorite date night is when my husband asks to take me out to dinner (his idea - not mine) because we go out and do nothing but talk, look into each others eyes, and spend one-on-one time together and without any demands of phone ringing (we both turn our cell phones to silent - and don't look at it), cats meowing or anything else. Ahhh....makes me want it to happen tonight! :)

  • Jacqui said:

    Wow. What a joy it was to read that message just as my husband was going off to work. I am only 21 and have been married for two years in October. Wow it has gone fast! I couldn't agree more with what was said in the marriage. I feel like we have been through the real heavy stuff... But seriously we don't have children yet, I am still at UNi but we have our struggles. My husband is disabled so my perfect date night growing up and sometimes still is a long walk talking and listening to the hearts of be another. But now since knowing my husband my perfect date night would be jumping in the car and going for a drive, we will look at all the city lights and talk for hours on end, then we would play some really old school ,USC and listen to it and sing our hearts out. Then we will drive to our favourite ice creamery and order for each other, it's always fun :) then we will jump back in the car and drive around some more, then we will go to McDonalds and get a hot chocolate with marshmallows and go and sit on top of a hill where we used to go when we were dating and look over all the sitting. I love being silly with my husband. I know we have so much in store for us and the trials and tribulations have only just started but I'm excited, Thankfully Christ is our strength and not me or my husband individually, Praise The Lord for EXTRAVAGANT marriages!!!!!!

  • Karla H. said:

    My favorite date night would actually be an afternoon antiquing with my husband in an old small town and trying a new restaurant for dinner. Having said that, it really doesn't matter what we were doing as long as we were spending the time together.

  • LRF said:

    My husband & I have done at home date nights many times. It can be fun & relaxing if you just put a little thought into it. I enjoy watching a movie with my hubby (after kiddos are in bed). While we watch we share dessert. My favorite movie nights have been when when the movie is turned off b/c we go to bed early...together:) have fun & be creative but don't worry that you are at note-just spending time together is fabulous for a marriage!

  • lrf said:

    oops-edit to my comment:meant to say "don't worry that you are not out" (like out of the house:)

  • Anonymous said:

    Another date night idea is to look through old photos and watch home videos together and reminisce.

  • Bonita said:

    My date night idea would be to go through old photos and watch home movies. Reminisce over the years.

  • Sheli Null said:

    Ted and I live on a lake. We exercise regularly, swimming inthe lake. After we swim, we pull a raft out of the boathouse and we both hang on to it. I usually wrap my legs around his waist. We just float ther and dream about what tomorrow, or next week, or next year might bring. That is one of my favorite date nights that we have.

  • Alicyn Keller said:

    We have a life-changing event going on right now. A good date night for us would be just talking about how we met or how lucky we are to have each other instead of complaining or bringing up all the bad events that are going on right now.

  • Becky said:

    Thank you Sharon for all of your wonderful posts
    and pictures and encouragement!!!!!!
    You are such a blessing to me.
    We have two young children and we enjoy
    sitting on our back porch as the sun sets or watching
    a movie together while our children sleep safe
    and sound in their beds. There is peace in knowing
    where they are and what they are doing!
    I homeschool and love every minute I have with
    them!!!! Keep up the beautiful work you do every day!!!

  • DebH said:

    Just having time with my hubby without the kids would be a great date night....we have four kids and always busy. I don't want anyone to watch my kids either... So, it's hard for us to get someone to watch our kids for us.

  • Naomi said:

    I have 5 kids, too! The oldest is 5, the triplets are 3, and the baby is 9 months. So my perfect date does consist of getting out of the house! Luckily we have both sets of grandparents close by.

  • Dave and I were together 22 years and we NEVER had a "date night". Neither one of us understood the concept but we chose to be together 24/7/365, mostly, and adjusted our lives accordingly. It was enough to share space and a life together; we talked constantly and taught each other to trust and to love again. Those too few years of memories have helped sustain me since he died. God has been faithful but I still don't understand.

  • Joy Baldoz said:

    As I read your post, I could completely identify with EVERY point and having at most maybe less than a handful of "official" date nights (and we have been married almost 20 years; our anniversary is September 5th). In addition to the reasons you listed, I've had an additional reason---that in my Asian culture, leaving the kids with a babysitter, especially someone NOT related to the family, is a huge "NO NO". It was always ingrained in my head that you can't trust ANYone with your own kids--- and ingrained in my head that if anything "bad" ever happened to them it would be a huge shame to have not taken responsibility for my own kids (which is why my own mom never left us---her own 5 children---with a babysitter.) My husband and I have tried to enjoy the simple things of life (not needing to have to "go out" just to feel like we have connected emotionally or to meet each other's basic needs.

    We have two teen daughters now (ages 16 and 13) and we actually can trust our 16 year-old to now be a babysitter at home with younger sister, and we actually CAN decide with peace in our heart to "go out" (to a movie and dinner or go dancing or just an evening out IF we wanted to), but we don't NEED to. (In fact this week, because I have been away in North Carolina for 2 whole weeks---partly for She Speaks and first time ever to be away from my family THAT long all the way from California--- I WANT to be home! I've been a stay-at-home mom for a little over 16 years, so having been called out to North Carolina for God's Kingdom purposes---whew a HUGE step of faith to go! But exciting to say "Yes" to God!)

    For this Friday we are planning a stay-at-home date night --an evening my kids will be at birthday party:

    -- We will pull out a "letter" a few days ahead (one letter from A-Z) from a basket. For example, I have written each letter of the Alphabet on a piece of paper. This is just an example as we have not pulled out our letter yet, but if we happen to pull out the the letter "P" then our theme for the night this Friday would be based on the letter "P". We might then write a POEM to each other or find a romantic Poem to read together. (I like to write my own, so that would be fun!) Then I would come up with a menu of food items to make for dinner beginning with the letter "P". Homemade PIZZA maybe? or maybe some PANSIT noodles (we are Filipino) and that is always an Asian dish my husband likes. And then for dessert maybe some homemade sweet Potato Pie. It is fun to go along with a theme because I LOVE a play on words so I might call my pie "Sweet Potato Pie for my Cutie Pie" on the menu. My husband cracks up when I am funny like this. (That is just me, being me! ha ha! He gets me!) If there is a good wholesome movie we can find that starts with the letter "P" we'll watch that or we might just enjoy some PILLOW talk (lay out some comfy pillows and chat for starters...but now that I am thinking about the possibilities...maybe a fun PILLOW fight (not harsh though, just playful like kids at heart which really that is how I want to live my life! Having fun!) Anyway, you get the idea! I hope we actually pull out the letter "P" cuz I have all these POSSIBILITIES in my head already! Haha! Whatever you all decide to do, have fun with date nights from A to Z! (Let me know if you ever try this out!) And let me know if we win the Target card and your downloadable message Extravagant Love. Thanks for the opportunity to possibly win such a blessing!
    Joyful Blessings from Joy Baldoz in CA

  • Joy Baldoz said:

    I just posted a comment , first time ever, and after posting it said my comment is awaiting moderation. Do I need to edit? I am new to this. --Joy Baldoz

  • Stephanie said:

    Thanks for the post, just discovered your blog through Pinterest :) my husband and i were literally just talking about setting aside intentional time to go on date nights, so i am really excited about doing that. One of my ideas for a date night is to do our own at home version of the show Chopped. We would go to the store and each have to pick 5 random ingredients for the other person (one would pick things for the main meal, one would pick for dessert). then we'd have to trade ingredients and use them to create a meal to enjoy together by candlelight with wine and conversation. :)