I took this blog challenge from some friends of mine from The Christian Marrige Bloggers Association
How Marriage Date Night changes through the years – Can you relate to these times in your life?
I want to mention just a few of the stages I remember and present where we are after these beautiful memories together. Dating has been a high priority for us but it has morphed because of life situations.
So I hope you enjoy these three stages for dates through the years!
1 – The “Honey do you have any spare change, I have $2 to add in?” date – when we were first married. Forty years ago, I accepted my first preaching job for a tiny church that did not hardly pay the bills for us. After a while Elaine found a job so we had a bit of extra spare cash – if we looked hard enough in the cushions! Remember being in that situation? Maybe that is your reality now? Take heart, it gets better!
Back then we learned how to stretch money and enjoy taking walks, having picnics and going for a ride on my motorcycle. Gas was cheaper then and the bike would go a long ways on a small amount of money. We would go out to Lake Michigan and watch the sun set and stop for an ice cream cone (not two) to share. Money was tight but oh the memories!
2- The dash and splash – taking advantage of the kids being in school or having a sitter for an hour so you dash out to the local McDonalds and sigh as you realize there are no kids calling you mom or dad. It generally takes a few minutes to unwind and begin to really discuss important issues. All too often parent spend their “our time” talking about kids, house, cars or work, if they are not careful.
Especially in these quick dates, it is important to have ground rules before you ever leave the house. In a humorous fashion, we sometimes said to each other, “Tonight we are not mom and dad, we are Elaine & Jerry on a date!” Actually I seem to remember one particular harried stretch in our life when we sat down I reached across the table and said, “Hi there I’m Jerry!” You’ve been there, right? Life just invades your intimacy as a married couple.
Often we had some parameters for our discussions – future plans, what to do on more extended dates, how is our spiritual life progressing, who are we trying to mentor in the next six months, etc.
You know what it’s like when you are home. Kids, bills, house stuff and the like invade your conversations. It seems impossible to have a quiet discussion about personal or spiritual issues with just you two. And if you can be together for an hour before bed, you feel so drained that a relaxing conversation is not where your mind is at this time.
My brain gets fuzzy and aches if I focus an other people’s problems all day trying to sort out issues and deal with problems. So the last item on my list is more reflective talk. But that’s what my wife needs.
She has been dealing with children and household issues (I know an old stereotype) for her day and she needs some adult conversation where she can just talk and the other person knows what she is saying. Our compromise was to allow me some TV time as that is brain dead relaxation followed by a conversation with out any other outside invasions. How often did this occur? Not nearly as often as she needed. SO we really focused on our weekly date night. Whatever it took, I made sure we had the money to get meal together – either burgers or a nice meal at a genuine restaurant! The main point was us together focused on each other.
3 – Which brings me to our last twenty five years of date nights. We made a focused effort to find a way to carve out time for our date night once a week. It takes creativity and fortitude but it can be done. We are living proof that if this is a high priority every week, It will happen. We have experienced extended dates, cheap dates and free dates except for the money to get to the date site. Let me close by recommending a few ideas.
Here are a few caveats to this weekly practice.
A- It has to be a team effort. Both spouses must make weekly together time a priority. Each partner must see how important this is for your marriage.
B – The time for the date can slide a bit. For instance if something was coming up on Friday night, say a school play, sporting event for the kids or a church outing, we would discuss when our date would take place, not “if” it would happen.
C – Make it an appointment on your business calendar. Something curious happened when I quit telling people I had a date with my wife and starting telling them I had an appointment for that time. People seem to “allow” you the luxury for an appointment but for your wife to be rescheduled they would say “She will understand”. No, that is a dangerous practice for a marriage to place anything before your spouse. Date night is that important to our marriage so we have a standing appointment for each other.
D – Other people who care about you and learn your life patterns defend this time for you. Recently we were trying to get with some long time friends for a double date. When Elaine suggested we meet on Friday night, the wife said in a loud stern voice, “NO! That’s your date night!” We met with them and rescheduled our date for Thursday.
F – Similar to D – A dating heritage creates a legacy and an example. Many times our children would ask where we were going on our date. The understood how important we believe time for our marriage is to our relationship. They looked forward to it since it often meant they got to do something a bit different together.
I hope you enjoyed the quick trek down our past, I sure did! No matter how long you have been married, start this week and establish a date night. It might be a different night of the week or even another time of the day if work schedules interfere. Whatever it involves, make dating your spouse a high priority, it is THAT important.
We have some friends who said they do not go on dates because they don’t know what to talk about! I suggested if they wanted it, I would help them with some written out questions to stimulate their conversation. I can do that for you if you want some gentle nudging?
Always Expect The Best For Your Marriage – as The Best Is Yet To Be!
Your Friend & Coach — Jerry Stumpf
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