In 2015, people in the United States spent over 9 BILLION DOLLARS on the self-improvement industry. That includes self-help books, seminars, videos, personal coaching — anything that’s targeted towards improving oneself physically, emotionally, or spiritually.
That’s a LOT of money, but it’s not surprising.
According to research, over 80% of Americans make self-improvement goals at the start of a new year (the number jumps to 94% for millennials), so, obviously, as a society, we’re incredibly focused on trying to uncover the best versions of ourselves.
But what about our relationships?
If you’ve ever been in a committed relationship before, you know that one of the first lessons you learn is that it’s not just about “YOU” anymore. It’s about both of you. It’s about “US.” The royal “US.”
It begs the question — if we’re SO committed to improving ourselves on an individual level, how do we bring that same commitment to improvement to our relationships? How do we uncover the best version of US?
In my experience, there’s one easy solution (and there’s even some science to back it up). And, fortunately, it won’t cost you nine billion dollars.
I’m going to present it to you in the form of a CHALLENGE.
If you want to strengthen your relationship, you can accomplish it with two words:
A recurring date night. (Doesn’t have to be all the time. Once a month will do.)
Challenge yourself to make it a monthly routine. It might sound trivial, but couples NEED some set, regular time to make their relationship a priority, and something as simple as a date night can accomplish that.
In fact, a 2014 research study by the UK’s Marriage Foundationdiscovered that couples who enjoy a monthly date night are 14% LESS likely to break-up than other couples.
While it’s awesome to know that date nights can have a tangible benefit on your relationship, it doesn’t mean that they’re always easy to pull off. And I’m not just talking about how hard it can be to find a babysitter (if you have kids).
I’ve been married for over 17 years. Because of that, I can tell you, with absolute certainty, that I AM OUT OF IDEAS.
I’ve got NOTHING. I used my ideas all up during the first years of our marriage. I’d plan outings, secret trips, intimate dinners for two. My date night game was ON POINT.
But then, as time went on, it became harder and harder to think of anything fun to do. My creativity was spent, so we found ourselves going to the same restaurants and movie theatres again and again. Our date nights became overly familiar and… boring. They weren’t as nourishing as they’d once been.
So I started to look around for a solution — was there a way to make date night special again?
I challenged myself to find a way to make monthly date night about more than just dinner and a movie. Fortunately, the answer was out there.
I found Crated with Love, a subscription box service that specializes in delivering themed date night “experiences” to your doorstep every month. While I was skeptical at first, I got excited when I opened the first box and realized what was inside.
Crated with Love boxes not only come with fun swag, but they also come with IDEAS — instructions, recommendations, walkthroughs — lots and lots of ideas to make your date nights easier.
Speaking as a guy who’s been married for almost two decades, that’s the best gift ever.
If you’re wondering how they get a whole date night into a box, basically,Crated with Love comes up with scenarios every month that are designed to help improve your relationship skills as a couple. You get some materials to assist with your date and a series of “Challenge” cards that present you with options of things you can do together.
It was a really, really fun day.
Because the boxes just don’t help set up dinner and movie. They help create an experience for a whole day.
The first task was the “Sunrise” portion of “Sunrise and Sparks,” all about sharing a sunrise together. We couldn’t remember the last time we’d watched the sunrise — and we have a kid, so it only involved us getting up maybe 30 minutes earlier than we normally do — and it was surprisingly moving.
We just never do stuff like that anymore.
We had some quiet time, just me and her, where we didn’t talk about schedules or bills. We just watched the sunrise from our back porch and reconnected. It was a fantastic way to start the morning. (We also shared some excellent coffee, cocoa, and biscotti that came in the box to keep us warm as the sun rose.)
The rest of the cards in the box included challenges we could try throughout the day. When we got home from work, we sent our daughter to my mom’s house and we stacked coffee beans (harder than you think) and played a “Heads & Tails” game where we asked questions about ourselves, ranging from the silly to the serious.
The culmination of the night was a candlelit dinner where we worked together to make a Chicken Massaman Curry recipe they provided (SO good) and watched a movie on the couch afterward.
It was one of the best date nights (heck, date days) we’d had in a long time.
Date nights NEED to be more than just getting fish and chips at that one restaurant you like once a month. Ideally, they should get you talking, interacting, and engaging with your partner.
The purpose of a date night should be reminding you exactly why you want to spend the rest of your life with this person. I know that sounds like an impossible task, but, after my Crated with Love experience, I’m realizing that it doesn’t have to be.
You just need to slow down and reconnect. Ask each other questions, do stuff together, try things you haven’t done before (or haven’t done together in a LONG time).
And, if you’re like me and you used up all your good ideas years ago, there are services out there that can help.
The important thing is that you invest some TIME in your relationship.
Accept the challenge. Make monthly date night a priority. If you need help, definitely try out a Crated with Love box.
This article originally appeared on YourTango. For more like this from YourTango, try:
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