If you have ever been with Traci and I when we’ve taught a couples’ class, or if you’ve sat through one of our weekend seminars, you know that we are big fans of dating! Before we were married we dated all the time. After we tied the knot, we dated quite a bit. When AJ, our first child, was born, we dated some, and then somewhere in-between AJ and BJ (about 14 months) our dating came to screeching halt. If you’re married, with or without kids, you know what I’m talking about -- life hits and dating suddenly isn’t much of a priority, it’s more like a luxury.
Shortly after BJ was born, I had one of those Ah-Ha moments, and I worked hard to start making dating a priority again. It wasn’t an easy task. and it often required lots of creativity because our budget was particularly tight, but we made it work. Ever since then, almost without fail, we have taken the time to date on a very regular basis (3-4 times every month).
Today we tell couples all the time, “You need to go on regular dates” and believe me, we have heard every excuse in the book for why that “just won’t work for us.” Kids. Work. Working kids. In-laws. Out-laws. Bowling league (yes, there was actually a young man who dropped that one on me!). Tiredness. Online video games (don’t ask). No babysitters. No trusted babysitters. No money. Nothing to do. And on and on.
The old adage is true, “where there is a will, there is a way” and Traci and I know from
experience, you can make dating work every week, on any budget, all the time. Yes, we’ve swapped child care with friends so we could date. Yes, we’ve paid babysitters all our “discretionary money” and walked the mall or the park for a date. We’ve eaten out, we’ve eaten in (shipped the kids to grandma’s house), we’ve watched movies, we’ve watched people and we’ve gazed at the stars. What we’ve learned is that the actual date activity has very little to do with the value of the date, the date itself is what matters.
So why do I work so hard to date my wife? Here are 8 reasons and I hope it encourages you and your spouse to keep dating!
- Dating reminds my wife that she is a priority in my life. Traci knows that she is a priority in my life, but dating lets her feel like a priority, too. When the calendar is cleared specifically so I can spend time with her, I’m reinforcing my commitment to her and to our marriage. Our dates are often a time for her to catch me up on the parts of mom-life that I don’t always see (see #4 below), and for her to get my input and feedback about challenges with our kids. When we date, she knows that my focus is on her (and her focus is on me), and that goes a long way in reinforcing how important our relationship is to me.
- Dating reminds me that my wife is a priority in my life. Sometimes in the craziness of work, of juggling the kids’ schedules and trying to manage our routines, it can become easy for me to relegate my marriage to “I’ll work on that next week when I have more time...” Regular dating reminds me that the relationship I have with Traci is second only to my relationship with God.
- Dating reminds my kids that my wife is a priority in my life. Sometimes our youngest daughter, CJ, will lament, “Are you guys going on another date?” I always laugh, and I always remind her, dating her mom is one of the highlights of my week. It makes our marriage better and also improves our parenting. In the future, I’m confident both of my girls will look for godly men who will date them long after they’ve said “I Do!” (Or said young men will be receiving a very unpleasant visit from their father-in-law!)
- Dating allows us to communicate about things that often get neglected. Whether it’s a walk at the mall, dinner and a movie or a visit to a nearby ball park, date night is ultimately about Traci, and about our relationship, not about the activity. This gives us plenty of time to talk about things that often get neglected in marriage. We’ve spent dates talking about finances, dreaming about the future, talking about sex, working thru issues with the kids and even struggles in work or with her business. By making our dates regular, these discussions become an outlet, not a downer, and they often lead to problem-solving and confirmation that we’re on the same page.
- Dating is just plain romantic. If you feel like there is little romance in your marriage, if you feel like the sexual connection you have is less than desirable, believe me, putting effort into regular dates should be high on your priority list! Dating puts you face-to-face with your spouse, allows you to walk hand-in-hand and helps build intimacy through the romance of being “out” together. I’m confident that when Traci and I started making dating a priority again (almost 12 years ago!), the romance returned stronger than ever.
- [regular] Dating has forced me to be thoughtful and creative. If you date regularly, dinner and movie will only work for so long. First off, there aren’t that many good movies out in a year, and secondly, it can be a spendy night. Dating my wife on a weekly basis has really forced me (and her, since we take turns planning date night) to be thoughtful and creative about our dates. Now that we don’t live anywhere near family, overnight dates have been more challenging...but they still happen because of thoughtful and creative planning!
- Dating tells others that our marriage is a priority. I love telling people, “Sorry, that night won’t work for [insert event invitation here] because that’s our date night.” Often, people respond with, “Wow...I haven’t been on a date with my spouse in years!” and it almost always leads to conversation about how to make it work. When other people see that we are committed to dating each other, they know we are committed to strengthening our marriage, and it encourages them to do the same!
- Dating slows the pace of life for a few moments. When we date, we work hard to turn off the phones and “disconnect” for the time we have together. There is something special about slowing down for a few moments, and together, enjoying the world around us. When we date, we tend to find more pleasure in our relationship, but also in our work, in our children and even in our trials and hardships! Dating allows us to slow the pace of life and enjoy the views God has given us.
I hope you and your spouse are dating, and if not, this is a great time to start! Commit to a regular date even it starts at once a month or if you boldly step in to once a week. Your commitment to invest in your marriage will pay off, on your first date, AND in the years to come as you keep dating a priority. Take your spouse on a date this weekend!
Go ahead and take the plunge, life -- including your marriage! -- is better on the water.