A lot of married couples stop dating after a while. Perhaps they’re too busy with work. When they do have time to rest, they often just curl up on the couch and watch TV together. After all, staying in is still spending time together and it’s cheaper too, right?

Often couples also stop dating once they have children, because now they have needy little tots that need constant attention. With children in the picture the two of you may probably have to work harder to make sure there’s enough money in the budget now and in the future. There’s college to think about.

So maybe you still go on dates on special occasions, like birthdays, wedding anniversaries, and Valentine’s Day. That’s enough, right? Well, this may be too common an occurrence, but it’s also just plain wrong. Dating is important for married couples too, and if you don’t take the time to date your relationship may suffer as a result.

Here are some reasons why dating helps a marriage:

It Allows for Better Communication

What makes a relationship stable and secure? One of the most important ingredients is proper communications. You two need to be able to talk to one another, and often a date can provide you with that perfect opportunity.

Sure, you can talk to one another at home. That’s also a good thing. But such talks are often subject to distractions, such as your kids messing around the house or chores that still need to be done. You have to get out more frequently so that you can be alone with one another without distractions.

Of course, this means that you need to turn off your phones, or at least only answer when it’s an emergency. Basically, when you were first dating you two probably turned off your phones so that you can give each other your full attention. That kind of dating is still important when you’re married. You two need that in your relationship.

It Helps Create Romance

Dates are inherently more romantic that just watching TV at home. It’s just the way it is. Didn’t you think so when you were first dating? You dressed well and tried to present your very best appearance, and you acted courteously and perhaps even flirted a little. That’s the same kind of atmosphere you want when you two are married.

It’s not always easy to keep the flames of romance alive and strong when you’re married. Sometimes you fall into an easygoing companionship that feels comfortable. But eventually that won’t be enough.

Ask around why someone cheated when they were married. In many cases, the cheating spouse wasn’t inherently promiscuous. It’s just that subconsciously, they were missing the romance that they first felt when you two were just dating.

It’s not that a spouse will eventually cheat if you don’t date. That’s not always true, and many people can attest to that. But that sense of loss and incompleteness, the feeling that there’s no more romance, can be depressing.

When you put in a bit of romance in your relationship, then it’s like feeding a fire with sturdy twigs and logs to keep it going. A marriage isn’t just a financial partnership. It’s not even just an emotional partnership. It’s also a romantic relationship—it’s what separates your relationship with your spouse to your other friendships (even with the opposite gender). Basically, you can have plenty of friends—but you can only have one spouse at a time.

It Solidifies Your Friendship

Just because romance is crucial in a marriage doesn’t mean that the friendship aspect of the relationship isn’t important. On the contrary, it’s an absolutely vital part of the partnership. Marriage works much better when you two actually like spending time with each other.

Your dates don’t have to be romantic dinners all the time. Maybe you can watch a movie or check out a fun place for the two of you. It all depends on what common interests you have, which is often enough among the foundations of a friendship.

All these reasons emphasize the fact that dating when married can be just as important as dating before your marriage. Your dates may not be as frequent as before, but take time to do so more frequently anyway. By dating, you two both demonstrate that you still regard each other as a priority in your lives—and that’s how you keep a marriage going strong for years.