This September my wife and I will be celebrating 3 years of marriage! Now I know what you’re thinking, ‘3 years? Wow, he must be a marriage expert by now!’ Ha! Of course not! Far from it! However, one thing I think I do well is a romantic date night. So I thought I’d share some of my tips for a good date night from my experience.

1. Be intentional!

This is the essential component to any good date night. Romance rarely happens by accident, and almost never without some effort. It can be easy after the honeymoon period is over to fall into routines and take romance for granted. Romance takes intentionality and at least some level of effort. Now that doesn’t mean you have to exhaust yourself every week to keep creating bigger and better romantic gestures, but at least make the decision that you are going to seek romance rather than just waiting for those moments to happen by themselves, otherwise they may not! I have found that what I put in to my relationship I get back multiplied! Even if your best efforts fail and things don’t go according to plan, just the fact that you have been intentional goes a long way to showing your partner you love them and keeping that fire ignited.

2. Get creative!

Despite how things like Valentine’s Day are usually marketed to us, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to show romance. Think outside the box. And even if you are still spending money on your date night or your partner, being creative can take it to a whole new level.

My wife loves flowers so I have gotten creative over the years. I once hand drew and cut out some roses and gave them to her, another time while we were dating I turned up on her doorstep with a bag of flours. Wholemeal, plain and self-raising. She loved the gesture!

Of course I need to make sure I still get her actual flowers so she doesn’t miss out but being creative shows that you think your partner is worth making an effort for. It also means you can give gifts and create experiences that are custom suited to your partner. If you’re not a very creative person, that’s fine! There’s nothing wrong with Googling ideas or stealing some from here. Again, it’s all about the effort and being intentional!

3. Go big or go home?

This phrase usually means ‘go all out or don’t bother at all’, but I actually mean this literally. Date night can mean going out somewhere for a meal or entertainment, or going to explore somewhere or visiting an attraction but it is also just as valid to have date night at home. Try cooking something new for your partner or even cooking something together like making pizzas together! Turn off the TV and play a board game, read a book together or just sit and chat for a while. If you enjoy watching movies or TV together, get creative with it. One Valentines Day my wife and I were renovating our lounge room which meant it was a worksite with no furniture or carpet. So I got creative and had an indoor picnic with a picnic blanket, some beanbags and used a blank unpainted wall as a screen for a projector. Similarly on another date night, I created an outdoor ‘cinema under the stars’ using a sheet over the washing line, a projector, some speakers and a rug.

4. New is exciting and the familiar is comforting.

Sometimes all it takes for a great date night is to do something new! It can get very easy to fall into routines and habits and go to the things we already know we enjoy.

Why not explore somewhere near you that you haven’t been to before? A restaurant, Café, museum, park, beach or nature track that you haven’t been to before? Or do something you haven’t done before – find unique experiences like riding a camel on the beach, a pottery class or play a new board game.

Try buying an Entertainment Book and working your way through some of the places in it or check out online tourist information guides. Of course there is also nothing wrong with doing something familiar too! If life has been busy and stressful, what are your favourite things you like to do to relax? Is there something you haven’t gotten to do for a while? Maybe sitting down at your favourite restaurant or cooking your favourite meal and just sitting to talk and unwind can be a great date night.

5. Start the romance well before you start the date.

If you’re like me and a very ‘in the moment’ type of person, it can be easy to not think about your date night much until it’s happening. But I’ve found that a bit of effort in the lead up can enhance the experience greatly! It can be as simple as a text message during the day expressing your excitement about your plans. Leaving a note in the morning or sending flowers during the day can build great anticipation and romance in the lead up to the date itself.

6. It’s not about me… it’s about ‘us’.

If you’re married, then no doubt you’ve already learned that it’s not all about you! The key to romance is learning to lavish love on the other person. Learn what your partners love languages are so that you can express love in a way that best suits them! You might be looking for great gifts when a neck or foot massage would be much more appreciated. If words of affirmation is their key love language then right them a note. Make sure you’re thinking about their wants, needs and desires when you plan date night. Now having said that, relationships are a 2 way street and it is important that you also communicate what your needs and wants are. Why not take turns to plan and organise date night? Or share the responsibilities? One of you plan the meal while the other plans the entertainment.

The key is to go in with a selfless and giving attitude but remembering that your relationship is about both of you. Maybe there’s something they have always wanted to try but you’re not keen on? Make the effort to give it a go and next time try something you’ve always wanted to do.

You may discover there are things you both love or at the very least you’ll both have the joy of exploring new experiences together.

Each couple is unique so ultimately a romantic date will be unique to each couple. The key is figuring out what works for you and your partner and making an effort. Whether it’s a fancy night out at a swanky restaurant or dinner at home in front of the TV, be intentional. It’s not what you do, it’s the heart behind it. After all, romance is all about the heart.

Written by Rhema FM’s Music Director – Aaron Brown