You've been thinking about going to marriage counseling, but don't know where to start. You've looked to see if your insurance covers anything, checked out some of the online options, and procrastinated going for a long time. You know marriage counseling will help you with your thought processes and will provide you both with the skills you need for a happy marriage, but you just haven't taken any steps forward. It is expensive after all. And you don't really want to go.
We get it, and we have a fabulous suggestion for you. It's this -
BEFORE YOU TRY MARRIAGE COUNSELING (which we fully support and encourage couples to do) TRY DATE NIGHT COUNSELING.
You heard us right - Date Night Counseling.
No, you don't go on dates with a counselor, because that would just be awkward, but you do make the intentional decision to invest more of your time, energy, and attention into your marriage.
And you commit to it.
Here's the thing. Everyone knows they should go on dates, but it's often hard to do what we know we need to do. Right?
Well, hear us out.
You have a choice here (and you can choose both, and that would definitely be a win-win):
Invest in marriage counseling
Invest in your marriage.
We're definitely not saying you shouldn't do both, but we would suggest that maybe you start with "date counseling" and put your money and attention there and see how things go. And then re-evaluate in a few months.
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Oh, you want to know more about "date counseling"? What does it look like? How much does it cost? How effective is it? Let's dive in.
What does "date counseling" look like?
"Date counseling" looks like intentionally and deliberately dating your spouse. Just as you would set up an appointment to meet with a counselor, "date counseling" invites you to set up a date with your spouse.
The key is that you aren't talking about your marriage here, unless it comes up naturally and you both want to analyze and nit pick your marriage. Then feel free to go at it. We wouldn't suggest it.
Instead, change your mindset and decide that you are giving yourselves a fresh start - a new chance to rekindle love, turn towards each other, and focus on what is right and good about each other and your marriage.
In order for date counseling to work, you have to be consistent and committed.
We suggest committing to going on at least one date a week for three months in a row. Can you do it? Of course you can!
Here is an idea for how you might change it up to make it more interesting although you do not have to follow the suggestions below. You could do three fun date nights in a row, with a lunch date thrown in, and the next month do two group dates and two romantic dates. It's all up to you. You just have to make it happen. Make it happen, folks.
Week 1 - Group date night.
Your marriage needs a few things, 1. Friends with strong marriages, and 2. People who just make you want to be better people. Group dates are fun because you get to interact with your spouse in a different way, you have different conversations and hear different stories from your spouse due to the group dynamic, and you can watch and observe the way other couples interact and treat each other. Plus, you usually end up doing really fun things that you maybe wouldn't do on your own.
Week 2 - Friday night fun date night.
You guys need to get out and do fun things together. Novel, new, and exciting things together. These dates may be more casual-dress dates, where you can relax, have fun, and do cool stuff (for reals). Be okay spending money to do something you know your spouse would love. Just think of it, you could wake up and say, "Today we have to meet our counselor," or "Today we are hiking to that waterfall, or throwing axes (why is this so popular right now??) or going skiing or sledding." Your marriage needs more fun, more friendship, more positivity, and more good times together. Fill that emotional love bucket, peeps.
Week 3 - Lunch date.
Lunch dates work really well for "date counseling" because they give you face-to-face time when you normally don't have it. If you can make it work, and you can, try and ask your spouse out on one lunch date a month - during the work week. Go somewhere new, or pack a picnic, and just commit to that one hour lunch together just as you would commit to an hour counseling session.
Week 4 - Random and romantic date night.
You may kidnap your spouse in the morning for a sunrise picnic, or go to brunch at a classy place in the next town over. You may attend an orchestra concert, or go dancing together. You may eat at a really fancy restaurant, or go on a hot air balloon ride. You'll know what to do. And Groupon has your back (not an ad). Aim for something a bit more romantic, something where you dress up a bit, something more nostalgic, or something that just gets you two cozying up a bit more and remembering how you dated each other back when the pursuit was on. Keep pursuing your spouse!
Now, you may be wondering, where are the "stay at home" dates?? What about take out and a movie at home? Yes, those are all good things. But for the next three months, those are just extras - icing on the cake, really. Yes, you should still do them. Yes, if you have unique circumstances, then by all means adapt and be flexible. But for most of you, there are no excuses!
READ - 50 DATE IDEAS THAT AREN'T BORING
If you want to give this "date counseling" thing a try, then please, if at all possible, commit to going out - out of the house - together on a date once a week every week. For three months. (And for the rest of your life, really.)
A planned, fun, asked out, date with the sole purpose of connecting and creating more positive experiences together will work wonders for your marriage and will immediately rekindle the love that you know is still there.
How much does "date counseling" cost?
It costs less than marriage counseling.
That's all we really need to say.
Yes, you may need a babysitter, yes, activities and dinners and lunches cost money, but it's all worth it.
Now, we don't suggest overspending and fighting about how much you will spend on dating each other, but if you have really been thinking about going to counseling, then budget a certain amount of money each month for it, but instead of using it for marriage counseling, use it for date counseling.
Be willing to spend more money on dates than you ever have in your married life. Because it will be worth it.
Invest in your marriage.
Now, that's not to say that you should go crazy, and make poor financial decisions, but just realize this is an investment of sorts - a commitment for three months to see if you choosing to take action can bring about some positive change in that special relationship of yours.
How effective is "date counseling"?
It's about as effective as you decide for it to be. Marriage counseling is the same way - it's about as effective as you decide for it to be.
We think date counseling is easier. And more fun. So you should give it a try.
You will be amazed at how good dating your spouse immediately makes you feel. You will come home feeling good about yourself and your marriage. Your confidence in your relationship and your ability to work through things will grow. You will be reminded of how you pursued and treated each other back when you fell in love, and you will naturally fall back into those rhythms and romantic ways of relating. You will start to feel excited to spend time with your spouse each week. You will look forward to your dates like never before and a new kind of love will grow. You will finally feel like you are prioritizing your marriage above work, the kids, the aging parents, etc. You will want to continue investing time and money into your marriage, because the returns will be amazing.
Yes, as you try date counseling you will probably wonder why you didn't try this earlier and you will be amazed that something so simple can work so well. You will consider your sessions with your spouse as the most positive, fun, and happy moments of each week. You will realize that prioritizing your marriage really does take time, effort, work, intention, and money - but that the investment is deeply meaningful, rich, rewarding, and beautiful.
So go pursue your spouse, cherish the relationship you have, and realize that with a little bit of consistent date counseling, your marriage will get nurtured and become what you always knew and hoped it could become.
P.S. We want to hear all about your dates! Tag us with #nurturingmarriage in your posts and we'll start to feature some of your date nights on social media and in our newsletter.
"A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person."
- Mignon McLaughlin
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