For the longest time, my husband and I had date night on Friday. It was one of the big things that we had done, trying to make our marriage successful, and to survive the years with young kids (I’m sure a lot of you can relate). However – there was a big problem about our Friday night date nights – they would often end in arguments. I’m not talking about little nippy things. A lot of times we would end up not being able to continue with the date night and going our separate ways. There are a couple of reasons this was happening.

One, was that Friday night was not a good time for us to have date night. We were both exhausted from the week. We were grumpy. We really just needed to watch some mind-numbing TV together, not try to get dressed, get a babysitter, go outside, be adults, and be on our A-game.

Two, was that we were making a huge mistake by not following the ONE rule of date night. I think it’s probably a mistake that a lot of couples are making, because this conundrum of arguing during date night is not just something we struggled with. This is something common I hear from many, many other couples. Ready for the rule? Here it is:

No issues allowed.

No trying to solve your money issues, no trying to plan something together, no trying to tackle your in-law struggles, none of that. Date night, or what I like to call, “getting on the party boat”, is only for friendship time. Friendship time needs to be fiercely protected, because let’s be real; in your marriage, you have lots of time for dealing with life. Household stuff, dealing with co-parenting issues, talking about your problems… that’s generally most of what you spend your time doing together.

You need at least a couple of hours a week where you’re just friends and not even lovers. That’s another little pro-tip for you; take expectation to have sex off the table. Sometimes that can really ruin things, especially for women, because they’re so worked up about that expectation and they’re feeling pressure.  Also, do something fun together. Go bowling, go ice skating, go swimming, play ping pong, go rollerblading… something that you can do just to get active together, and be friends, and be goofy.

For some people (women in particular), in order to do this, they need to know when those “other” things are going to be discussed. They need to know when you’re going to be able to talk about your budget, the thing that’s been really bugging you all week, or brainstorm about some future goals that you’re excited about, and wondering how to accomplish. In order to protect that friendship time, you might also need to plan another time during which you’re talking more logistical tactics and problem solving. If that’s the case, go ahead and plan that as well.

Ultimately, don’t forget; the one thing you need to do on date night is not talk about issues, and fiercely protect your friendship time.