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Date Night

Date Night Time!

Whether I'm counseling a couple or a wife, I always encourage regular date nights as part of a strong, intimate marriage. A great professor I had during graduate school, Dr. Sytsma, has an organization called Building Intimate Marriages. On his site there are great resources for couples and individuals who are wanting to work on strengthening their marriages. I often point clients towards the "Try This At Home" section of his website. There are great date night ideas there for various types of dates such as a fun date and a working date. I highly encourage you to grab one of these and your spouse and head out for a date that will be sure to impact your marriage! If you find that to be difficult or produce tension you are unable to work through well, consider couples counseling! 

It's First Friday Raleigh!

First Friday is something I love about Raleigh. It gets us out and about, shows us great local art and lets us enjoy some amazing local venues in a unique way! Grab a friend and make it a girl's night out. Grab your significant other and tell them it's "Date Night"! Grab the family and tell them it's time for a new family experience together. Head out to First Friday. This can be a cheap idea too if you are on a budget. Spend some time intentionally pouring into your friendships, relationships, family with a new experience!

Couples, there's an app for this!

Couples there's an app for all this deep conversation I have been suggesting for your relationship in blogs here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. An app that is designed to help you emotionally connect beyond surface topics and the daily grind. We were out to dinner with my sister and her husband at Cantina South (a great spot for a Raleigh date night by the way - amazing Guacamole, seriously so good!) and talking about how it can get hard to come up with really good conversation topics at the end of the day (or the week) when you are tired and drained from work, child-rearing or life in general. My savvy sister showed us an app (for iPhone/iPad users) on her iPhone that had amazing conversation starters, great questions to use with your spouse for thought-provoking conversations and questions to get really emotionally connected. I love it! It even has a fun spin-the-bottle feature! So all you wives who deeply desire your husbands to connect with you at an emotional level- here is one great solution: ask your husband to download the app "twoignite" and then schedule a date night. Husbands, wow your wife and download this app and then start asking her some great questions over a nice meal. Once you've settled into your table, pull the smart phone out (if it's even been put away yet), and start connecting. You'll be surprised how easy it can be to connect when you have great questions like these to get the conversation started. There's even a "couples only" section of the app that gets you talking about physical intimacy (husbands, don't start your date with these questions). :) If you are still having trouble connecting after trying several date nights with intentional questions like these, it may be time to consider some counseling together.

Raleigh Date Night Idea

One key to a great date is doing something new and exciting. Lucky for those of us in Raleigh, that happens each month on First Friday. All kinds of galleries and local businesses open up their doors (and walls) to all kinds of art. A great way to pour into your relationship is to see and try new things together. I encourage the couples I see for couples counseling and marriage counseling to vary their date nights. Do different things; try new things. See things you haven't seen before. Maybe you're not into art and that's OK. It doesn't mean you can't appreciate it and have a great night exploring something new together! Head downtown this Friday and see what there is to see. Make it an all out date and do dinner downtown. Some ideas for dinner are Poole's, Chuck's or The Raleigh Times. Great local Raleigh restaurants, fun atmosphere and great food! Then wander around the First Friday events together. Afterwards stop in at a local coffee shop like The Morning Times and grab something warm to drink and enjoy conversation about what you saw. What was the most intriguing piece you saw? What piece did you want to have in your home? What gallery do you think your significant other liked the best? Then spend some time talking about your relationship. It's a new year; set some goals together for your relationship. What things would you like to improve upon and how might you go about doing that? How can each of you contribute to those goals? It's a great time to reflect on what you did well last year and how you can continue to strengthen and grow your relationship in the coming year. 

It's that Date Night time again!

I place a lot of emphasis on date night when I'm counseling couples. Date night keeps the relationship growing and develops increased connection and intimacy. If we aren't intentional in our in our marriages, then the foundation of our relationship can slowly but surely erode. We have to be intentional: intentional about loving our spouse actively, intentional about continuing to invest in and get to know our spouse (yes, even after being married for 10+ years), intentional about sharing new experiences together. These are key ingredients to a solid marriage and they don't just happen automatically. They happen when couples intentionally set aside time and put effort into loving each other in these ways. One of our favorite Raleigh date nights includes David's Dumpling and Noodle Bar and Cup A Joe. I absolutely love David's, great food and a great atmosphere! My husband loves the quirky atmosphere at Cup A Joe and raves about their hot chocolate! I encourage couples to try new things and to go new places. But there's also nothing wrong with having a few favorites! Tradition and rituals are also important to a marriage. They add to the marital foundation as well. This date night is one of our traditions. What are yours?

A (Cheap) Raleigh Date Night Idea

It's a great time of year, great to be outside and enjoying this Fall weather! This time of year, I'm a huge fan of outdoor dates. I encourage the couples and families I see for counseling to get outside, enjoy the weather and each other! This Friday is First Friday and there are lots of great things to see and do in Downtown Raleigh. (The website linked to "Downtown Raleigh" has a great calendar of events and you can find out what is going on downtown on any given day!) First Friday doesn't have to cost you a thing either; you can wander around the galleries for free! You could start your date in Cameron Village at one of the many delicious restaurants this great area has to offer. If you like, wander around the shops or grab something sweet. Then mosey on further downtown and start seeing what the galleries have to showcase this month. You can ride the free R-Line around town so you don't have to worry about parking more than once! Also if you are unfamiliar with Downtown Raleigh, the R-Line is a great, free way to see the city! :) This kind of date is a great way to see new things, spark new conversation and have a great experience together. Dates like that help to deepen your relationship and break the monotony of dinner and a movie or a night at home. Walk and talk together; discuss what you think about the art you see! Aim to really know what your significant other or your family member thinks about what you are experiencing together. Get to know each other deeper. Have a fun fall Friday date Raleigh! 

More Raleigh Date Night Ideas

Trying new places to eat can be fun and exciting and help keep the relationship fresh and growing! And it's a great part of a fun date night. We all have a tendency to get stuck in a rut and go to the same places time after time. Now I'm a big fan of having a few favorite places to go back to, but I have seen the benefit in clients I work with in couples counseling or marriage counseling in trying new things. My husband has pushed me to try new foods and that has definitely opened up good conversation and a few new food likes for this picky eater! A new place that just recently opened in downtown Raleigh is Beasley's Chicken and Honey. This place has a fantastic set up! While I haven't yet sampled the food, I have talked to many who have and tell me it is great! I sat beside two guys who had just devoured some chicken and told me it was delicious! I must say, I was wishing I had a piece of that chicken to taste, but we'd arrived too late and the kitchen had closed. They have great looking sides and the dessert menu looked scrumptious! Date night can be a time to push yourselves out of your comfort zones - taste buds and emotions can be challenged! While fried chicken isn't new to many of us southerners, still, a new restaurant is fun to try. And while you're there, push yourselves to talk about more than just the usual "how was your day" or business-of-life items (work, kids, finances, honey-do lists, etc). Talk about your relationship - the good stuff and the difficult. Reminisce on fun memories the two of you share. Discuss things you'd like to learn about - new hobbies or interests. Dream about your future together - places you want to see, things you'd like to accomplish together. Date nights like these can really help strengthen your relationship and build a strong foundation in your marriage. As I've mentioned before in another blog post, you can always come to the date prepared with fun questions or conversation topics to talk about; there doesn't have to be pressure to come up with things to talk about on the spot! There are great question books out there to help break up the monotony of conversation and get you connecting at a deeper level! That will help if coming up with ideas to talk about or questions to ask gives you a knot in your stomach! So Raleigh, try new restaurants and deepen your relationship all at the same time! Yumm! I know I'm excited about a Beasley's date night!

Fun Raleigh Outing / Date Night

Here's a fun outing whether you are looking for a new date night idea or just looking for something fun and different to do in Raleigh with friends! Groupon offers great coupons for local activities and restaurants. Recently I bought the Chubby's Tacos groupon so we could head out for some great tacos and get them at half price! Yumm, I love that place! A great outing or Raleigh date night idea is to head to a local restaurant with your groupon in hand or just head over to Chubby's Tacos if you haven't tried them yet! Enjoy a leisurely dinner and some fun conversation. If conversation doesn't come easy or you are tired of the same old topics, try spicing it up with some get to know you questions like these! It's fun to learn new things about your friend or significant other and I guarantee it'll lead to some laughs! Leave dinner and head to a local bookstore. Browse the travel section and plan a dream trip; look at pictures, maps, read about the culture...and then plan a trip that is realistic in the next year! Go to other sections of the store and try to find books you think your friend or significant other would like to read; show it to them and see how well you know them! You don't even have to buy any books, just enjoy spending time together in a new environment. If you're looking for a sweet treat after you've absorbed enough books, head to LocoPops near NC State! These are great frozen pops and you are supporting a local Raleigh business! You can wander around Hillsborough Street with your pop in hand and enjoy the rest of your evening. Date nights or nights out with friends don't have to be expensive, just doing something out of the norm will help deepen the relationship or friendship!! I encourage clients I'm seeing in counseling to be intentional with their friendships and relationships. This not only helps the relationship to improve but often has a positive impact on mood as well.

Another Raleigh Date Night Idea

We all know the classic date night: dinner and a movie. Here's a fun extended version of that classic idea if you are looking to make a full night of it enjoying downtown Raleigh. A great Raleigh theater is the Rialto. Nestled in downtown Raleigh, it offers a quaint location and great shows! Head downtown early in the evening and park in the 5 Points area. I love this area of town and could spend hours just wandering around the streets looking at houses and enjoying the great food!  While it's still light out, wander around the gorgeous historic homes off Glenwood Avenue. Head to Lilly's Pizza for a quality pie and then hit up the show at the Rialto. If you are looking for a tasty treat before the show, try Fresh at Five Points. My husband and I recently tried this sweet little ice cream and frozen yogurt shop and loved it! After the show head over to Third Place Coffee House and debrief about the movie; make time to intentionally talk together about not only the movie but also your relationship. What did you like about the movie? What did you dislike? What part was happiest, saddest, funniest, etc? What did it make you think about as it relates to your life? Any way the movie applies to your relationship? Then spend some time talking about your relationship specifically. How have you been feeling about the relationship lately? Share anything you could personally work to improve upon in the relationship. What is one way your significant other really made you feel special over the past week? What is one way your relationship has grown/improved over the past month/week? I encourage couples that I am seeing in marriage counseling or couples counseling to spend time doing these intentional talk times each week. Date night can really infuse love and positive energy into stagnant relationships. And for relationships that are going well, it helps keep things moving forward in an intimate and healthy direction!

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The Importance of Date Night

When working with couples in couples counseling or marriage therapy, I always stress the importance of a weekly date night! Think of all the focused time we put into other things- work, household chores, raising kids, etc. A weekly date night gives couples time to intentionally focus on their relationship and on each other. It provides time to reflect on your relationship, share new ideas or dreams, discuss upcoming changes, debrief about a recent fight, etc. Date night should be a time to interact together: face time, quality time. Sure going to a movie every now and then is fun and I fully support that too! But try date nights where you focus on each other and the relationship...where you get to talk to one another instead of stare at a screen. Staring at a screen together is fun, but it's shoulder time (doing something together but not interacting). Face time is actually looking at each other's faces and interacting, engaging with one another! Some fun (and cheap) ideas for a quality date night are a coffee shop, First Friday in Downtown Raleigh, and the North Carolina Museum of Art (it has a whole section you can visit for free!). The last 2 are free for the most part, so money doesn't have to be an excuse. Date nights don't have to break your budget! Work on setting aside time each week to spend getting to know your significant other more, improving and deepening your relationship. You'll certainly see the fruit of those efforts!

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