This article was originally published on Nurturing Marriage. It has been republished here with permission.

Going on regular dates is a key to a happy and healthy marriage. Why? Because couples need alone time. Time to be husband and wife - not mom or dad, dentist, HR director, PTA member or fire chief.

However, this article isn't about the importance of dating. It's about a secret that will make your date nights something to get excited about, something to get ready for and something to talk about for weeks and months afterward.

That secret is to ask your spouse out on a date.

Yes, you should askyour spouse out. This simple gesture makes the date feel a bit more official, and requires that you put a little more effort into it. Plus, it will definitely go far in winning his or her affection, rekindling those butterfly feelings and helping you cultivate a greater love and friendship with each other.

While it may feel a bit awkward at first, asking your spouse out (and getting asked out in return) can quickly become something you look forward to.

To jump start your next date, here are a couple of simple and creative ways you can ask your husband or wife out.

1. Call him on the phone (even if he is in the room next to you)

Ask him about his day, and then say something like, "I got tickets to this (insert favorite band here) concert for Friday, and I was wondering if you would like to go with me and then grab some dessert after. It starts at 7 p.m., so dress casual and be ready by six."

2. Leave her a note on her pillow or on the seat of her car, simply asking her out and telling her how much you love spending time with her.

If you're doing a date-in, simply invite her to a lovely candlelit dinner at home, and rename your house some kind of fancy restaurant name. For example, if your last name is Thompson, you could invite her to a dinner for two at the Thomson Grill, with a Redbox and Ben & Jerry's to follow. She will be thrilled.

3. Send him an invite in the mail to either your home address or his work address

Kind of cheesy, but you can bet that when he checks the mail, he is going to be pretty excited to see that something other than a bill came for him. Maybe even include the tickets you purchased, and spray the envelope with perfume - just trying to nurture romance here, folks.

4. Text or e-mail her

This may not be the most romantic option, but you can still make it romantic if you say the right things. Just imagine how fun and flirtatious your conversation could be.

Husband: Hey babe, are you available Saturday night at 6:30 p.m.?

Wife: Possibly ... why?

Husband: Will you go dancing with me? And grab Chipotle with me after? And then of course we could spend some time making out in the car at our favorite look-out spot.

Wife: I'm in. You're paying? 😉

Husband: Great. I'll be counting down the hours until we get to dance the night away.

5. Ask him face to face

This is always fun as long as you make sure to throw in a little physical affection. Wrap your arms around his neck and ask him out. Or take his hands and dance around the kitchen with him before you ask him about going out with you on Saturday. Or for bonus points, you could always pick up his favorite treat, or favorite box of cereal and give it to him while you ask him out — face to face.

Asking your spouse on dates every week, or every other week, will help you rekindle romance, try new things together and enjoy much needed time to talk, laugh and enjoy each other's company. Go ask your spouse out - right now!

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