Quick Quiz: When was the last time you and your husband headed out for a really great date?

a) Last night.

b) In the last seven nights.

c) In the last two weeks.

d) In the last month.

e) I can’t quite remember.

If you answered (a) or (b), you’re in the minority. If you answered, (c), (d) or even (e), you’re among the masses. Despite the quiet promises we all make to ourselves, most partners in a marriage find themselves consumed with meeting the daily demands of life. At the end of the day, it feels like there’s little time, energy or money for a romantic getaway.

But you can make a change. In an interview with David and Claudia Arp, authors of 10 Great Dates to Energize Your Marriage and 52 Dates for You and Your Mate (available at www.marriagealive.com), the couple offered some tips to get you started.

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1. Take the initiative. Don’t wait for him to ask you out. Study both of your schedules and find a night that will work for both you. Hire a sitter or ask a neighbor or friend to take the children for an evening. Plan on eating together — whether it’s a romantic dinner in or a nice evening out — and some sort of activity afterward. Go to the movies. Attend a concert. Take a walk. Make a dessert together. The bottom line is: be intentional about spending time together.

“We continually hear from those who are in 10 Great Dates groups (video curriculum is available for churches to offer couples a night out) that the men might be [dragged] at the beginning but by the second or third date they are the ones who are taking the initiative,” Claudia Arp said. “Sometimes our husbands just need us to be the catalyst for getting things started.”

2. Plan a date around something your husband loves to do. If he likes basketball, surprise him with two tickets to a local game. If he loves video games, take him (and a bag of quarters) to an arcade. If he loves collectibles, take him to an antique show. Make the date center around something he loves — even if it’s not your favorite thing to do — and enjoy his company.

3. Plan a variety of dates. The Arps’ 52 Dates for You and Your Mate offers dating suggestions by categories like “romantic dates,” “cheap and easy” dates, “getting in shape” dates and even “we’re just too tired” dates. Variety is the spice of life and will certainly spice up your marriage as well! When the Arps are exhausted, the couple has a “We’re Just Too Tired to Talk” date. Together, they agree to ignore the phone, order out dinner, put in a video and snuggle on the couch. “We don’t feel the need to talk — after all, we’re just too tired — but not too tired to be together,” they said.

4. Be creative. The Arps have a number of suggestions. Try a formal dinner in the park. Dress up and take tablecloth, candles and classical music, and pick up food on the way. Try a blue highway date. Don’t take four-lane roads or stop at chain restaurants. See what you can discover in a 50-mile radius of your home. Have a window-shopping date but with a different twist. Look and pick out all the things you already have. You can turn this into a “grateful” date!

5. Remember the importance of dates. For married couples, dating helps you to be intentional and to focus on each other. Dating helps to build your friendship and keeps your relationship alive and growing. Don’t talk about work, kids, or your in-laws. Focus just on you. If you want to energize your marriage, keep your dates just the two of you.

Investing in your marriage is something you’ll never regret. Take time for your mate — starting today!

Copyright © 2003 Margaret Feinberg. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. Used with permission.

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