I was so glad that no one could hear us! We were yelling at one another in the car on the ride home. Somewhere during our date, we started up an old argument. It seemed to come out of nowhere.
Dinner was great. We enjoyed answering the weekly Conversation Questions. This was during our year-long weekly date commitment. Most of the dates went well. In fact, the regular time together meant we rarely argued. Tonight, our date tanked.
Have you had the same experience? A perfectly planned date night takes an terrible detour.
You planned the time together because you missed your partner. In fact, you have longed for uninterrupted time when you could connect and feel close. You know that you need time and space to feel like you did at the beginning of the relationship.
You got everything in place to finally get some quality time with your spouse away from the house. It’s what you have been looking forward to for days.
Everything goes wrong. One irritation spiraled into an argument:
- Someone was late.
- You couldn’t decide what to do on the date.
- The kids, the sitter, the neighbor, etc. made it hard to get out of the house.
- There were distractions: work, the kids, a problem, THE PHONE.
- A thoughtless comment.
- A sigh.
In a single moment, your hopes went up in smoke. Maybe you recognize yourselves in one of these:
A non-starter date blows up at the beginning. It never gets off the ground due to unexpected (or expected) problems. One of you runs late, feels sick, or feels tired. You argue about what to do on your date.
A mid-date bomb is when one of you says or does the wrong thing (or doesn’t say or doesn’t do the right thing). It derails the whole night.
Date night expectations have two forms:
- First, this is when one partner has ideas about how the date “should” go. When the date doesn’t go as expected, you feel disappointed and frustrated. You believe that your partner “should” know you so well that they would do the things that are important to you. When you share your feelings, your partner feels criticized and becomes defensive.
- Second, one partner links the date with physical intimacy. “We went out, so we are definitely having sex tonight.” Nothing kills the mood as fast as believing you “owe” your partner sex for spending time with you.
Next thing you know, both of you feel irritated, angry, and more disconnected than before. You start arguing to protest the injustice. It feels just like all of the injustices that have ever happened in the past. You wonder if you chose the wrong partner. Where is the lovable person who started this journey with you?
Chances are, you chose the right person, but your marriage is starving. Date night arguments usually happen when it’s been ages since you spent any “alone time” together. You aren’t spending enough time together to feel close or to solve problems. When this happens in any marriage, the couple argues on their dates.
There is hope! You don’t have to argue on your dates. A little bit of thought and planning can avoid many of the pitfalls.
- Decide where to go ahead of time.
- Take turns planning the date.
- Schedule a problem solving/planning session a few days before your date.
- Talk about some reasonable rules and expectations around the date. Decide ahead of time or at the beginning of the night what you both want from your time together.
- Decide on a signal that your partner is making you feel uncomfortable or missing an important detail.
- Table touchy topics for another time. If the conversation heads towards difficult topics, redirect the discussion.
- Give your partner 3 strikes to be less than perfect.
- Use Conversation Questions to spark discussions about new topics.
- Have a low-key backup plan ready in case one of you is tired or stressed.
- Go on a date regularly (weekly/monthly).
- Reminisce about the good times in the relationship.
- Dream about your future, especially about spending more time together.
- Do some of the things you both enjoyed at the beginning of the relationship.
- Give your partner a way to win by telling them what you need.
Choose one or two of the tips and try them out. It’s worth the effort so that you can get what you want from the time you spend together. If it doesn’t work, come back to the list and try something else.
Your time together is precious. Don’t sacrifice it to date night arguing. Instead, plan ahead so that you can resolve arguments before they even begin.
If you go on a date and it does turn into an argument, it’s ok. All couples argue sometimes. Even in the best relationships.