Great Dates (even for busy parents)

by David & Claudia Arp

Remember your dating days—those long walks, romantic dinners, and intimate conversations that were the milestones of falling in love? Those moments full of emotion and closeness became the foundation for your marriage relationship.

However, for most, dating abruptly ends after the marriage vows—and if not then, just wait until the kids come along. Between diapers, late-night feedings, and then later, getting them to soccer or ballet and helping with English papers and science projects, few parents have enough energy and desire to romance or date their mate.

We had been married for almost four years when three simple words, “It’s a boy!” changed our lives forever. Our dating was history. It was like someone rolled a hand grenade under our bed. As new parents, we were overwhelmed, exhausted and insecure. We kept waiting for life to return to normal, but it never did. After two more kids, life began to spin out of control. Our ultimate romantic fantasy was eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.

As we soon learned, it doesn’t have to be that way—not if you budget time for some Great Dates. You can recapture the passion that got you your job as parents in the first place.

Ideas for Great Dates

A great date helps to revive the spark that initially ignited your fire. It fosters meaningful conversations and develops mutual interests and goals that are not focused on your careers or your children. Traditionally, men like to relax by doing something—fishing, golfing, and so on. Women, on the other hand, tend to relax by talking. So a great date involves doing something together with the opportunity to talk at the same time. Launch your date with a trip down memory lane. Talk about the first time you saw each other and recall other events that helped to bond you together. Then, talk about what’s great about your relationship right now.

We also suggest a dating theme—something you want to concentrate on to infuse your relationship with vitality and energy. One date might focus on energizing your love life. Plan an overnight getaway (without the kids) to help renew your sparkle and excitement.

On other dates, you might focus on balancing your roles as partners and parents or look at your core belief system and come up with your own plan for developing spiritual intimacy. Another date could include making plans for the future. What are your long-term goals for your marriage?

You can jump-start great dates. All you have to do is make the time. If you’re a groupie or you need childcare, consider joining with several other couples and starting your own dating club. You might start a “Couple’s Night Out” program at your church or community club that provides low-cost childcare. Maybe a group study on marriage would provide structure and motivation for regular dates. However you choose to do it, you can count on fun and new life for your marriage.

Ready, set, go! Now is the time. Take the risk. Invite your spouse to join you for fun dates to energize your marriage. Trust us, you’ll be glad you did. Your kids can wait while you build a strong marriage. (Actually, they’ll gain security and confidence, and learn from your example.) But your marriage won’t wait until your kids grow up. Grab some time to date your mate. Now is the time to make your marriage great!


  1. Choosing a High-Priority Marriage
  2. Learning to Talk
  3. Resolving Honest Conflict
  4. Becoming an Encourager
  5. Finding Unity in Diversity
  6. Building a Creative Love Life
  7. Sharing Responsibility and Working Together
  8. Balancing Your Roles as Partner and Parent
  9. Developing Spiritual Intimacy
  10. Having an Intentional Marriage


  • Don’t let your kids be the dominant focus of your conversations. You probably already spend much of your other time together talking about them. Dates are for you two.
  • Don’t chat about the in-laws, money, nor any other subject that could cause tension or a disagreement. Don’t go there.
  • Don’t go to the movies. You won’t have a chance to interact!

Claudia Arp and David Arp, MSW, founders of Marriage Alive Seminars, are conference speakers, columnists and authors of numerous books and small-group video curricula, including The Second Half of Marriage and 10 Great Dates (Zondervan). They have three adult sons and live in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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