Improve your Marriage in One Hour! The Art of the 1 Hour Date

Cathy and I ran into some serious trouble in our marriage about ten years ago. At the time, we were the exhausted, distracted, over-scheduled parents of a nine year old and a two year old. We had our fast-paced and demanding jobs, a host of clubs, committees and Little League commitments and a million other things that somehow, over the course of time, took precedence over our relationship as a couple.

The Beginning of a Marriage in Trouble

Once we were past the crisis and had survived it, we were able to look back and see that the gradual replacement of couple time with time spent on everything else was the beginning of the trouble. We were in the rebuilding and recovery phase before we started doing something about that, but knowing what to do and putting that knowledge into action are two different things.

We had cut back on our obligations at work, making clear that career advancement was being put on hold so that we could have more life balance. We also opted out of a lot of social and community obligations and put limits on how many things Michael could be involved in at once. However, we still found it very difficult to find time to get any romantic time alone. We persisted in trying to steal away for a weekend in the country or an evening of dinner and dancing, but the opportunities to do these things were too far and few between to do any real good. The difficulty of making the arrangements also put way too much pressure on the date or weekend to be perfect-another recipe for failure.

Romantic Date Ideas - 1 hour date edited

That was when we accidentally hit on The 1 Hour Date.

We hadn’t had an evening out in several weeks, despite several tries. But one afternoon, we found ourselves with an hour to kill before picking the kids up from their grandparents. We decided to stop in at the Starbucks nearby and we accidentally had a wonderful date.

We laughed, we talked, we drank some much-needed coffee and when we left, Cathy remarked on what an unexpectedly great time we’d had. Simultaneously, we both realized that it was because there was no pressure, no expectations. We didn’t have to kill ourselves arranging child care, dressing up, making reservations or leaving work on time. It wasn’t A Big Date, so there was no Big Pressure to Be Romantic. The result? Well, we had some awfully romantic time as soon as we got the kids into bed.

Unexpected Romance While You Wait

After that afternoon, we put big date nights on the back burner and grabbed 1 Hour Dates as often as we could. We met in the park between our offices for a picnic lunch. We met for a drink in a nearby hotel bar. We bowled two quick games while Grandma took the kids for their dental cleanings. All of theses 1 Hour Dates were fun, most led to wonderful intimate encounter during or later and there was another benefit-they took the pressure off of our big dates. They didn’t have to be perfect, they didn’t have to be unique or extravagant. Which was good, because it was a few more years before they were even remotely frequent.

The upshot of this is that you need time alone as a couple, whether you’re going through a tough time or a good one. Don’t skip it altogether because you can’t make a big deal of it. If you do, The Big Date may come too late.

3 Responses to Improve your Marriage in One Hour! The Art of the 1 Hour Date

  1. Cathy Lorient March 19, 2012 at 3:50 am #

    How do YOU find the 1 hour date idea? Share your own ideas on how you would spend a 1 hour date by posting a comment below! We’d love to hear from you!

    – Cathy Lorient

  2. The Pro Marriage Counselor March 28, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    I love the 1 hour date idea. In fact, I just published a post covering what I call “micro-dating”. I argue that in addition to their weekly date night, couples can benefit from dates as short as 10 minutes!

    Similar to your wonderful bowling date, my wife and I bought an inexpensive badminton set and started by playing for just 10 minutes at a time in the back yard. We had so much fun, laughing together and getting great exercise too. It’s amazing how much quality time can be packed into just 10 minutes or an hour as you so beautifully suggest here.

    I also agree that couples aught to make and keep their regular dating commitment in good times and in bad. I often suggest to distressed couples that the focus of their initial dating efforts be in further developing their couple communication skills and doing targeted emotional repair work.

    A great 1 hour date night idea would be to take turns reading each other a chapter a night of “Hold me Tight” by Dr. Sue Johnson or one of John Gottman’s great marital communication books.

    Thanks for yet another great post! It’s a “tweeter”!

    • Cathy Lorient March 28, 2012 at 10:19 pm #

      Thanks for leaving a comment.

      I love your “micro dating” idea. I think this is good for very busy couples who still can’t find time to do a 1 hour date. “Quality Time” is greater than “Quantity Time” anyway.

      – Cathy Lorient

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Cathy Lorient