Editor’s note: This article was originally published on the 80/80 Marriage blog and is reprinted here by permission.
We're sorry to be the ones to bring you this news. But this is a hard truth you need to hear.
There is a vast, worldwide, conspiracy afoot against you and your partner ever going on another date night.
Your kids are in on it. They'll do just about anything to interrupt that dinner out you had planned for a Thursday night. They'll get in trouble at school. They’ll break their arm. They’ll get a stomach flu. They might even orchestrate a massive fight between siblings at the very moment of your departure.
Your friends are in on it. They'll text you with tantalizing offers for dinner parties, sporting events, rock concerts, art shows, or anything else they can think of to pull you and your partner away from date night.
Your work is in on it. Your boss and coworkers are part of a secret cabal working to flood date night with last-minute surprises. Turns out, you can’t go on date night. Why? "The report is now due tomorrow," they say. Or, "Turns out you're now the one who has to go to Wichita for that sales meeting." Even if you make it to date night, this twisted syndicate will send you text messages and emails throughout the night to hijack your attention from your partner and keep it on them.
The viruses in the air are in on it. COVID-19, RSV and influenza — these aren't illnesses. They're a form of biological warfare designed around the idea that you can’t go out for drinks with your partner when you have a fever of 102°. Heck, you can't even sleep in the same bed as your partner when you're that sick.
Even Big Tech is in on it. The evil geniuses of Silicon Valley have created the most sophisticated persuasive algorithms in all of human history. For what? To keep your attention glued to social media, your text thread or anything else they can come up with to prevent you from having an actual conversation with your partner on date night. But that's just the beginning of it. The real goal is to keep you so distracted during the rest of life that you never even remember to schedule date night in the first place.
So, in the face of this vast global conspiracy, how can you defend date night?
1. Plan it in advance.
Assuming you have kids, particularly young ones, we can guarantee you this: Without advanced planning, you will never do date night.
We've heard the complaints about this from couples. "It's too business-like to schedule time together." We get it. But without planning regular date nights and putting them on your calendar, they will never happen.
2. Defend it.
Now that we've let you in on the secret truth of this vast conspiracy against date night, it should be obvious that everyone in your life is out to destroy this precious time with your partner.
Faced with this sobering reality, you have two choices.
Choice 1: Allow the world to set priorities for you and your partner, a choice that will inevitably destroy date night.
Choice 2: Say "no" to your work, your friends, maybe not viruses, but maybe even your kids — all so you can actually have this time for connection.
3. Drop the distractions.
Assuming you finally do make it to date night, your work still isn't complete. There's still the constant pull of digital distraction designed to destroy even the most fleeting moments of connection.
What can you do? If you're really brave, leave your phones at home. If you must have them, turn them on airplane mode. If you must send a text, ask your partner if now is a good time instead of whipping out your phone while they are saying something important.
In the face of so much opposition, is date night still possible? We think it is, but only for those brave couples willing to defend it.