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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BeHealthyForEveryPartofLife #CollectiveBias

My husband and I have been married for nearly 20 years. I won't insult you by saying we have been happily married for every minute of those 20 years. We have had our ups and downs like all couples… actually more downs than most, I would imagine. Not because we don't love each other; we love each other very much. But we have had a lot of negative influences in our lives–unemployment, health scares, financial loss, multiple major moves–all things that would put extra stress on any relationship. And, as most parents do, we put our children's needs ahead of our own. We stopped making an effort to spend time together without the kids, and along the way we lost our “Kate and Colm” identities and became just “mom and dad”.

Date nights vanished long ago along with getting ready to go out at 10 pm, going to bars with friends, sleeping in late, and lazy Sundays.

Date Night: A Key Ingredient to a Happy Marriage

Date Night: Fall Out Boy Concert

Not long ago I was trying to think back to the last time Colm and I went out on a date. Not just a quick dinner away from the kids, but a REAL date. Movie, concert, going out with friends… anything that involved him, me and didn't include kids. I couldn't think of anything. We hadn't been on a date in years. Not on my birthday, not on his birthday, not even on our wedding anniversary.

Every night was pretty much the same. Colm would get home from work (late), put on PJs and watch TV until he fell asleep. I would work, corral the kids for dinner, showers, bed, and then work some more until I was too tired to continue, fall into bed and sleep until I had to get up the next morning (with a splitting headache). This schedule not only let us run ourselves ragged, but kept us stuck in our mom and dad identities.

We both were stressed, tired and felt rundown nearly every day. We argued more. Spent less time together. Things were not fun anymore.

After spending my 45th birthday with five kids bickering with each other all. day. long., without cake (because who wants to make their own birthday cake) depressed and alone (Colm had to work and none of my friends were available to help me celebrate), I decided I'd had enough. I didn't care if we had to lock the kids upstairs in their bedrooms while we sat down in the living room alone with takeout and a DVD, Colm and I were going to have a date night, dammit.

Enter Mandatory Date Night.

Date Night: A Key Ingredient
to a Happy Marriage

My parents have been married for over 50 years. I don't know two married people who are happier. They do nearly everything together. Sure, when you have an empty nest and are retired that is much easier, but even when my brothers and I were little my parents always made time for each other. Sometimes it was just a quick trip to the supermarket, but they made the time to connect with each other away from us kids. At least a few times a month they would hire a babysitter or drop us off at our grandparents' house so they could go out to dinner, visit with friends, or attend a party. No matter what, they found time to go out on a date, and THEY STILL DO!

That is a key ingredient to a happy marriage.

Date Night: A Key Ingredient to a Happy Marriage - Steaks for Two

Date Night: A Key Ingredient to a Happy Marriage – Steaks for Two

Now, at least one night every month, Colm and I make plans to do something together. Go to a movie, an adults-only dinner at a REAL restaurant, meet up with friends for cocktails, take a long walk… it doesn't really matter what we do, as long as no kids are involved.

Slowly, Colm and I started feeling more connected. We began to laugh more, enjoy each other's company more and one surprising side-effect, our children started behaving better!

My daily headaches are now few and far between… but I still keep my trusty Advil Liqui-Gels handy so headaches don't ruin our plans. Advil Liqui-Gels advanced liquid fast relief is amazing! Nothing’s faster on tough pain (among OTC pain relievers), it's good for muscle aches, headaches, and joint pain. Use as directed.

Another great ingredient to keep in the house is Emergen-C! “Let Your Healthy Out”. Emergen-C offers More Healthy Days, More Healthy Nights. With over 20 varieties of vitamin supplement drink mixes, Emergen-C offers the formula, flavor, fix, and FUN you’re looking for! You can find it easily in Walmart… on one of your date nights!

find Nexium 24HR, Emergen-C, and Advil Liqui-Gels at your local Walmart in the pharmacy area

Find Nexium 24HR, Emergen-C, and Advil Liqui-Gels at your local Walmart in the pharmacy area

When Colm lost his job date nights that involved concerts, fancy restaurants and traveling more than an hour away from home were no longer an option. So I started thinking of things we could do that didn't cost a lot of money. Free concerts in the park, picnics in the backyard, microwave popcorn and movies on TV.

Date Night: A Key Ingredient to a Happy MarriageOne of our favorite things is to banish the kids upstairs or even better, pawn them off on friends or a neighbor, and watch a movie–that is not rated PG and does not include a cartoon or Avenger character–with some snacks, wine, yummy Chinese or Indian take out–the spicier the better… and to make sure Colm's inevitable heartburn doesn't ruin the evening, I keep Nexium 24HR in the medicine cabinet at all times. By taking just one daily tablet of Nexium 24HR, the #1 prescribed acid blocker brand (Based on IMS health data: total Nexium® prescriptions 2006 – 2014), provides Colm with all-day, all night frequent heartburn protection. *May take 1 to 4 days for full effect. Use as directed.

We have learned a lot over the past 20 years. There are many key ingredients to a successful marriage.  One of the most important ones is making time for each other any way you can. Our date nights, no matter how low-key, help us to stay connected and remind us that we are more than just mom and dad. Kate and Colm have resurfaced and plan on making the most out of the next 30+ years, just like my parents.

When was the last time you took your spouse on a date?

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BeHealthyForEveryPartofLife #CollectiveBias