Just in time for Valentine's Day, the New York Times examines the common "date night" tradition, highlighting studies that suggest making date night unfamiliar and exciting rather than the standard dinner-and-a-movie can do wonders for a stale relationship. For example:
One group was instructed to spend 90 minutes a week doing pleasant and familiar activities, like dining out or going to a movie. Couples in another group were instructed to spend 90 minutes a week on "exciting" activities that appealed to both husband and wife. Those couples did things they didn't typically do -- attending concerts or plays, skiing, hiking and dancing. The third group was not assigned any particular activity.
After 10 weeks, the couples again took tests to gauge the quality of their relationships. Those who had undertaken the "exciting" date nights showed a significantly greater increase in marital satisfaction than the "pleasant" date night group.
It's may be too late to make any last minute Valentine's Day changes, but that doesn't mean you can't liven things up in the future. If you've got your own methods for keeping the romance alive Lifehacker-style, let's hear them in the comments.