One of our favorite engaged girls, Lauren Conrad, recently dished to People about her favorite date nights with fiancé William Tell and talked about the importance of making time for each other. Conrad is onto something that relationship experts (and happy long-term couples) all know: Setting aside regular, but special time for one another is key to making a relationship last.
And it's not just theory, it's fact. A study by the National Marriage Project concluded that weekly date nights (or days or weekends) foster stronger marriages and relationships in five ways: by improving communication, injecting novelty, stoking "eros" (um, you know, "romantic love"), underscoring commitment, and simply providing an opportunity to de-stress — together.
So while we know wedding planning can be hectic, don't forget to schedule in quality time with your guy. In case you've had one too many Netflix-and-wine nights, we rounded up four fun date ideas to freshen things up:
Put the iPhone Away for a Night: You won't believe how refreshing it can be to log off Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and every other social media outlet for a few hours. Instead, go on a hike, play Frisbee in the park, rent a kayak at your local lake or set up a cute picnic — just go outside! According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, there's a positive correlation between a shared experience of "novel and arousing activities" (arousing here being defined as active, exciting, or unusual) and relationship quality. Bonus: You can get a great workout without spending any more time in a smelly gym!
Refresh Your Palate: Every couple has their favorite spots, but there's a fine line between "our place" and a rut. To inject that all-important sense of novelty into your relationship, take turns picking new restaurants to try. You can scour local listings, get recs from your friends or just wander around a new neighborhood and try the first cool place you stumble upon. It's an easy and tasty way to keep things fun and unexpected.
Become an Expert: Study after study shows that learning new skills keeps your brain young. It does something similar for your relationship, too. So, take up painting or pottery together. Enroll in a Thai cooking class. Take an auto repair course and finally restore your future father-in-law's 1965 Mustang.
Get Your Culture On: Opera. Art. Theatre. Movies. Live music. The human imagination and the amazing things it creates is what separate us from the animals. Let it spark your own ideas by strolling through a museum, catching a show or joining an art crawl or gallery night. Even if you don't love what you see, it will spark new cultural discussions with your future husband. After all, how many Thursday nights can you spend arguing over whether or not Scandal's Olivia Pope belongs with Fitz or Jake?