It's become very popular for married couples to speak of "date night." So popular that there are now lists of do's and don'ts, places to go and places to avoid, appropriate expectations and inappropriate ones.

I'm a big proponent of the idea although I wince at the 'cutesy' name. All couples need time alone together -- time to really talk, time without the children, time to reconnect. We fool ourselves if we think we don't need it. We rob ourselves and our marriages if we refuse to participate.

I know how it is. We just feel too tired. We're cozy at home. It's familiar. The shoes are off; our beds beckon (either that or the dirty dishes, piles of laundry and demanding children!)

It's hard to motivate ourselves to get dressed up and go out, especially on a cold winter's night -- or so I'm told (I live in LA)!

But it's always worth it. We can forget that there are topics of conversation outside of garbage removal and whose turn it is for the car. We can forget the 'ties that bind' -- the fun, the excitement, the deeper connection. And the romance. We may not even realize we have these ideas or feelings percolating within us; we've become so used to tamping them down, leaving them unexpressed, letting the frustration boil over instead.

Date night doesn't have to be expensive. When our children were too young to be left alone and no one was eager to come watch them (!), we had tea on the porch after dinner. It was less effective than a whole evening out but better than no break at all. Now that our children are older we have greater freedom to go out (fairly limited compensation for the tortures of adolescence and beyond!), but it still can be hard to drum up the time and energy.

Nevertheless we try to take a walk every night after dinner (better for the heart and slightly longer than the tea experience). It ensures that everyday we carve out some time that's ours.

Date night can be glamorous and fun -- we all need some of that in our lives. It can be serious and intense -- we all need some of that too. It can be whimsical and silly or planned and mature. But most importantly date nights must be regular.

All relationships can become stale, bogged down in minutiae and effort. Married couples with children can feel more like business partners in a massive educational and housing experiment than best friends. Worn out and drained, it may be hard to have energy left for our partners.

We need to get out of the house -- away from the dying plants, peeling paint, unpaid bills and clamoring children. We need to rediscover the joy and wonder we have for each other. Okay, just one more time around the block?