Editor's note: This article was originally published on Nurturing Marriage. It has been republished here with permission.

Consistent and intentional dating is vital to nurturing a close, happy and fulfilling marriage. Plus, dating your spouse is AWESOME! Hopefully, your dating life only got better with marriage. Unfortunately, we know that isn't always the case. So, here's a call-out to continue dating your spouse. If it's been a while, ask them out. They'll love it!

With two little kids at home, having consistent time together (away from the littles) is hard to come by. For us, weekly date nights renew us individually and as a couple. They give us a chance to talk about everything and anything under the sun. They give us time together - just the two of us.

We know what you are thinking, dating is what happens before you get married. And before you have kids. We get it. Dating comes with a cost - it takes effort, time and (of course) a little bit of moola (though there are plenty of ways to have a great date for cheap or free).

The cost yields high rewards though - a happier marriage, a deeper friendship with your spouse and TONS of awesome shared memories, just to name a few.

Here are three tips that will help you and your spouse make DATE NIGHT a high priority and a whole lot of FUN!

1. Consistency trumps all

While spontaneous dates are fun, there is something about knowing that you have a consistent and regular time, SET ASIDE from everything else, for each other, for your marriage and for FUN.

Sit down with your spouse and decide how often you want to go out - once a week, every other week, once a month, etc. Once you have decided how often you plan on having date night, MARK YOUR CALENDARS and don't let anything else get in the way! Inevitably, something will come up - but stay committed!

Trust us, you'll start to look forward to your regular dates together - time for just the two of you. You may even count down the days, hours and minutes. Consistency sends a clear message; one that you'll both feel, you matter to each other. You are each other's top priority.

2. Take turns planning

Have a plan. Knowing what you are doing in advance can save you from playing that last minute "What do you want to do?" "I don't know, what do you want to do?" game. You may have learned (like we did) that this approach rarely leads to a memorable date.

We like to take turns planning our dates. They may not always go as planned, but spontaneous changes can be fun too! Whatever one spouse plans, the other one (happily) goes along with it.

Be creative. Try new things. Have fun.

3. Reconnect

Date night is YOUR time together, so spend it on each other! Give each other your FULL attention. There is plenty of other time to respond to texts, check out what's happening on Facebook or get the latest update on the score of the game. So, put the smartphones down. This will show your spouse that they are your top priority!

Date night is a time for positive conversation and interaction. It may not be the best time to analyze your relationship or have "tough," conversations. Rather, take time to rediscover your spouse, like you did before you got married. Ask questions. Really listen. Ask follow-up questions. Find out what your spouse is thinking, feeling and dreaming. Laugh together. Have fun together.

Dating your spouse will rekindle romance, give you an added sense of cohesion, and create memories you will talk about for years! So, commit (or recommit) now to MAKING DATE NIGHT HAPPEN.

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