Love in the Mountains: Date Night won’t save your marriage | VailDaily.com

Love in the Mountains: Date Night won’t save your marriage

Jessica Heaney
Love in the Mountains

It's an awful feeling when your marriage is struggling. You feel stuck and unable to connect with the one you love most, leaving you helpless. You want the quickest solution to resolve the problem and get back to feeling solid together.

Date night has become the suggested quick fix and doable idea for floundering relationships. In theory, it makes sense. More time together should equal a better relationship.

But too often this equation falls short. And when date night fails, you find yourself sinking deeper into a hole of despair. You're left desperately wondering what to do now.

Too close for comfort

“This fourth step is the most important. Keeping your date night consistently scheduled is essential to feeling closer and more secure together. Because when you begin to protect this time together, you’re also acting to protect one another and your marriage. You are making it a priority against the many competing demands in your lives. You’re essentially proving to one another that the relationship is what matters most.”

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When you're struggling to connect with your spouse, you're both caught in strong patterns of actions, feelings and ideas that keep you disconnected. And if you're disconnecting more often than not, then going to your favorite restaurant is not going to self-correct your toxic patterns. In fact, sitting at a romantic corner table could be outright painful and awkward at this point. Rather than getting relief, you walk away from your meal feeling even more disconnected than when you walked in.

Because the truth is, when couples are in a tough place where they aren't feeling loved, connected or secure in their relationships, they often either don't desire to spend time together or being together heightens the reality of how deeply disconnected they really are. And we know forcing connection never helps to create connection.

Spending time together, away from kids and other obligations or distractions is nonetheless crucial to the health of your marriage. We simply need to be more intentional and purposeful with how we approach a night out.

Realistic plan

On your next date night, follow these four steps. They'll help you set a realistic game plan back toward feeling connected again.

Adjust Expectations: Understanding that date night isn't a cure-all to your relationship ailments is an essential first step. Use date night to take a step toward reconnection. Expect it to feel awkward and expect it to take a while to get used to spending protected time together again. You may even experience jitters or nervousness similar to when you started dating. This is perfectly normal.

Keep it Simple: Let's keep the pressure off by simplifying what date night entails. Shooting for the perfect dinner at the finest restaurant is a mismatch when you and your partner are struggling to connect. Grabbing a simple meal at a casual local spot may be more comfortable and allow you both to relax. Going for a walk together could also be the perfect kickoff to a night out. Focus more on getting back to basics.

Learn About Each Other: Rather than hope for date night to dissolve the issues you may be having, seek to learn about your partner again. I encourage you to explore who your partner is and ask questions as you would when you were first dating. I discourage you to go into the problem areas and hot button issues you may be facing. It will be tempting for you both to use this time to jump into issues that are real and present in your lives. Do your best to step away from the problem areas and start by being curious about who your partner is, what they like and what they're looking forward to.

Commitment and Consistency: This fourth step is the most important. Keeping your date night consistently scheduled is essential to feeling closer and more secure together. Because when you begin to protect this time together, you're also acting to protect one another and your marriage. You are making it a priority against the many competing demands in your lives. You're essentially proving to one another that the relationship is what matters most.

If your marriage is truly on the brink and you're talking more seriously about separating or divorcing, then no amount of date nights will fix this crisis. Call me, your local relationship specialist, to begin working to repair your relationship.

Jessica Heaney is a licensed clinical social worker who knows the relationship struggles of living in the Vail Valley. If you're a Vail Resorts employee, then your EAP benefits give you and your partner six sessions with Heaney. For more information, visit http://www.jessicaheaney.com. If you want to learn how to date for commitment and how to stop dating the king or queen of first dates, then contact Heaney at Jessica@jessicaheaney.com.