My husband and I have been married for 28 years, and we recently celebrated our anniversary by taking a tropical vacation. One night while enjoying the resort hot tub after a day of snorkeling, we began chatting with a single woman who was vacationing alone. She had just ended a long-term relationship and asked us for tips on staying married. As Tony & I sat next to each other in that warm water with the jets massaging our backs, we thought for only a minute before answering. We mentioned several things we thought were keys to a lasting relationship, but one that has been really critical for us is dating. We still “date” each other even after 28 years of marriage.
Years ago, when our children were young, life was hectic. My husband and I both worked outside the home, and between our careers, our kids’ sports, homework, travel, doctor appointments, church commitments, house cleaning, grocery shopping -need I go on?- we had no free time. We were so busy concentrating on everything but us, as a couple. Our relationship was suffering, and in the midst of that tiring season, a wise woman offered some simple advice: go on weekly dates. Weekly dates? Was she serious??? We couldn’t figure out how we could possibly fit that in with everything else. We wanted to have alone time as a couple but had not made it a priority. There were so many buts– – –but we can’t afford it, but we don’t have a regular babysitter, but our kids will miss us, but we are too tired, but we don’t have time, and so on. However, we decided it was imperative that we get away from work, our kids, and home, and go out ALONE together on a regular basis. It was difficult at first making the arrangements, figuring out the finances, and deciding how to fit it in, but we were committed to our marriage, so we forged ahead. We hired a fantastic babysitter, made changes to our calendars, and began our regular date nights. It was a game changer!
Now, I can’t say that we kept a weekly date night all these years, but I will tell you that we still go on frequent dates. Different seasons in our lives have dictated how often we can get out alone, but no matter what, we still find time to fit a date into our schedules. Why? We desire to keep our marriage alive and well. We strongly believe it is a key ingredient to a healthy marriage.
Here are a few reasons we believe dating your spouse is important:
- Dates refuel the fire. Going out alone with your mate reminds you of the reasons you fell in love in the first place. Remember those early days of dating when all your dates seemed so romantic? Romance is an integral huge part of a relationship, and dating your spouse helps keep that romance alive! Sometimes a date can even reignite the spark that has been missing.
- Dates keep that connection going. When you have alone time with your spouse, you are able to share what’s on your heart, you are able to dream about the future together, you are able to discuss concerns or struggles, you are able to get on the same page without interruptions. Making time to date prevents distance in your relationship from creeping in.
- Maintenance is important. Marriages need continuous maintenance. If you don’t preserve, sustain, and care for your marriage, you’ll end up needing repairs. Think of the upkeep on your marriage like continuous and long-term maintenance for your car (although they are vastly different!). At the bare minimum, you have to keep your gas tank filled. Your car may need occasional oil changes, and then the bigger, costly maintenance needs arise such as new tires, replacing brakes, etc. If all you ever did was put gas in your car, it would still run, but after a while, without regular maintenance, it would begin to break down. The same goes for your marriage. You can put the bare minimum into it, and it will still function, but if regular upkeep (like dating) doesn’t happen, it will begin to unravel.
- Dates help you grow closer. One of the goals in marriage is to grow closer, not apart. Regular dates help that happen. When you date your spouse, you grow closer by doing fun things together, sharing new experiences, laughing with each other, and learning more about one another. You make memories together. Let’s face it, when you have fun with your spouse, you see your spouse as fun and maybe, just maybe, it reminds you of the fun you had when you were first dating.
- Dates show your marriage is a priority. Who is the single most important person in your life? Even though you may think it’s your children, it is your spouse! By dating your husband or wife, you are telling him/her that he/she is a priority in your life. Dating your spouse also reveals to your family, your friends, your neighbors, and/or your coworkers that you take your marriage seriously. Your family, your career, your commitments to your church and community are all important, but your marriage is a more important than any of those.
There must be more to your marriage relationship than your roles as parents, income providers, roommates, housecleaners, gardeners, carpoolers, etc. Your marriage is the single most important relationship here on earth, and it is worth the effort of intentionally scheduling regular dates. I encourage you to spend time together by dating your spouse. You will both feel more loved and connected, and you will be keeping your romance alive.