Healthy Habit: Date Night
March 2023Photography (top) by Cassidy Dunn Photography
Jennifer & Dow Drury
Healthy Habit: Date Night
Dow: Hunting and fishing…really anything outdoors;
Jen: Cooking, travel, and party planning
Dow: Residential Construction;
Jen: Recently “retired” Director of Admissions for Cross Schools, turned professional volunteer
Family: Three daughters, two in college and one still at home in high school.
We admit it; we’re jealous. You and your husband have been married 23 years and date night has been a priority for years. How has dedicating time to regular date nights enhanced your relationship?
It is a priority for us, and helps us to stay connected. I think it might be the reason we are still happily married!
Can you share what a typical date night looks like? Enquiring minds want—actually need—to know (and we need help getting started)! How often do you go out?
We go out for a casual date night, like a quick dinner, once a week, and a more special, fancy date night once a month. We are also big fans of day dates and sometimes spend a day together in Charleston or Savannah.
During your date nights how do you keep the conversation from turning to the stresses of the day, the children, the fact that the yard needs mowing? Please tell us arguments are not allowed!
It’s actually the opposite. The conversation is open to anything that comes up. We do talk about work, the kids, even the yard if it comes to that. Arguments are off limits, but difficult conversations are not. We get the “housekeeping” stuff out of the way first, and then move on to the dreaming (and more romantic!) part of the conversation. We plan other dates, vacations, or even just dream about winning the lottery and what we would do with the money!
How difficult was it to make room for dedicated date nights in your busy schedule? What helped you change your mindset?
It was difficult at first, especially when the kids were little. We have three daughters, and our oldest two are fourteen months apart. We honestly had to hire a babysitting service when they were babies and toddlers just to make a once-a-month date night work! But this is also when we made date nights a priority. I was a stay-at-home mom, and craved adult conversation, and Dow was working all the time. We just looked at each other one day and were like “Who are you again?” As much as we adore our girls, we had to make a space for our relationship that did not revolve around diapers! We so enjoyed our monthly night out, it grew from there.
What would you say to encourage others to make a date with their spouse?
What can it hurt?
It’s so much fun connecting and doing things with your spouse! Take turns trying things that either of you like, and see what works. You’ll find it’s easy, it’s fun, and it is also a simple way to make your spouse a priority. Trust me, I wasn’t super excited about a sporting clays date, but we had a ball!
Word on the street is NOTHING comes before your date night. This is very refreshing, especially in this day and age of FOMO (fear of missing out). How do you honor this commitment before all others?
The key for us is flexibility. We don’t have a set date night schedule. We look at the calendar and just pop in fun activities, or dinners out. If something comes up, and we need to reschedule, it’s no big deal, but we definitely reschedule. We also take advantage of “found” time. If our youngest daughter has youth group, or a late sports practice, we drop her off and go to dinner. It doesn’t always have to be a huge plan or a fancy activity. We’ve had some of our best dates during the day, or at our favorite casual restaurant!
What are the keys to planning and executing date nights?
Again, flexibility, and also creativity. We take turns planning the bigger dates, and we layer fancier dates in between simple, inexpensive ones. A golf cart ride to watch the sunset is free and romantic! We also take advantage of where we live. We made a goal to play tourist in our town, and have added those fun events to our date calendar. Most recently we went on a day date to the Beaufort Oyster Festival. It was so much fun! Just make a plan, put on perfume, and as long as it’s the two of you, it’s a date!
Do you ever invite other couples or friends along for your night out?
Yes, and no. Of course, we love to hang out with friends, and will go to dinner, or concerts, or whatever pops up with them. But group activities don’t take the place of our one-on-one dates. We feel like that time is special, and we do plan for it.
Do you believe spending quality time together has a direct correlation to happiness?
100 percent! I especially feel like it’s the key to a happy marriage. We talk about everything on our dates, and it’s truly the most effective way for us to feel connected and like we know everything happening in each other’s lives. Life can get busy, and planning time together to connect makes us both feel loved and understood.
A lot of people feel the need to put date night on a back burner when the kids have so many needs. How do you combat this mindset?
I heard a quote a long time ago, that said something like: “The best thing you can do for your children is to love their mother.” I agree! Making your spouse a priority is so important. Of course, we adore our kids, but one day they will have their own spouses and children, and it will just be us looking at each other. We want to make sure our relationship is solid, and that we are modeling real love and a healthy relationship to our children.
Why are healthy habits important to you?
There is so much in life we can’t control, but we can control our habits, and work on creating new ones. Developing healthy habits is important for your body, mind, and spirit. Of course, ALL of our habits aren’t healthy, but we’re all a work in progress, right?