Do you regularly date your spouse? No? I didn’t think so. How about this question: Did it ever occur to you when you were dating your spouse, pre-marriage, and kids, that someday you wouldn’t? No on that one too? Yeah, it is as they say: the struggle is real!
I can remember when my boys were babies, the idea of date night was so inviting (finally, an excuse to take a shower and put on [albeit, ill-fitting] going-out clothes!) and yet so daunting at the same time. It meant I’d need to secure a sitter and proceed to write a novella outlining all of the things that would need to take place in the 79 minutes we’d be away. Then, we’d spend the entire “date” talking about the kids; wondering if they were okay; checking in with the sitter. It was pure romance!
In the years since then, we acclimated to life without dating. It was just something that fell by the wayside in an effort to run the household. It was like we were ships in the night running a family business, though it was more like a shaky start-up at times. We kept it afloat, though it wasn’t always pretty. There were fewer showers which equated to fewer opportunities to feel “in the mood” for dates . . . or whatever that might lead to. Then there was the fact that, as a mom-of-young-kids, I was being handled all day long; breastfeeding, pumping, baby on the hip, “pick me up” requests, etc. What was not appealing was the thought of more touching and so we focused on parenting. We ran a solid man-to-man defense that got the job done but frankly not much else (if you know what I mean).
If you’d asked me how my marriage was I’d tell you, great; fantastic, even! He was coming home from work every day so that felt like a win. Had I been in his shoes (the one who got to leave the house every day, ALONE), I’d have considered fleeing. Not, really, of course. But, I think back on the number of days that he came home and I was still in my PJs; I’d hand him a child or two and declare that I was going off duty for a little while. He’d scan the room, take in the sink full of dishes, cluttered countertops and a high-chair bearing the remains of at least two meals then look at me quizzically wondering but never saying, “you’re still in your pajamas, what did you do all day?” The look was enough to unnerve me. The words aloud would have finished the both of us.
Luckily that only lasted about ten years.
So, here we are coming out on the other end of the baby-decade. I have to say, it’s something of a relief. I take showers whenever I feel like it, without anyone else in the bathroom with me; it’s truly special. But an odd thing started swirling in my brain: in another ten years, it will be just the two of us again. “We” delivered our firstborn just three days before our first anniversary, so this is going to be our inaugural foray into “just the two of us”. What on earth would we do? (He had some ideas, or at least one good one, by his account.)
I was a little concerned. It was time we got to know each other again; biblically, and otherwise. As luck would have it, a solution was right around the corner. In September of 2019, we enrolled in a family management course, which we highly recommend called Purposeful Family Manager. In the class, we were tasked with setting 90-day goals. Many couples in the class were setting goals for grand travel and enriched financial status (which they are impressively achieving, by the way!) but I took it in another direction: I decided I wanted to fall in love with my husband again. Not, because I’d fallen out of love, but rather, because we needed to find our way back to the spark that ignited this journey and would need to carry us into retirement.
We committed to a weekly date night, quarterly overnights, and an annual getaway. It seemed like a tall order but we put the wheels in motion and it’s been marriage-changing! In November we whisked away to Arizona for our 10th wedding anniversary (nevermind that we’d been married 13 years at that point – grace!). We hiked the breathtaking trails in the mountains of Sedona. Additionally, we added date nights to our calendar and secured them with sitters and family members willing to cover the kiddos. Sometimes we do lunch dates if the nightly sports and activities schedule doesn’t allow an evening out, but we decided that lunch counts because we get to make the rules. We also decided to alternate who plans the date; just to shake things up, because we’re wild like that.
It’s about being intentional. It’s so easy to let the baby-decade stifle the very thing that made the family dream dreamy in the first place. We highly recommend setting aside time each week to a) schedule your weekly date night and b) actually go on it! (NO EXCUSES!) Whether you’re happy in your marriage or wondering what the heck has become of the two of you, consider getting back to the version of you that sparked the flame. Have fun together! Explore new things together and get to know the next-decade-version of each other. Whether you’re ready to acknowledge it or not, you’re growing old together as we speak and much like the last ten, the next ten years will fly by. Make the most of them; appreciate each other and demonstrate for your kids what a happy, healthy marriage can look like. Start the fire the same way you did the first time, by dating your spouse!
If you’re already doing this on the regular, we want to hear from you. Comment below and let us know the secret to your success! In conclusion, all you need is love! And dates . . . and showers . . . and babysitters . . . and grace.
Love & Grace,