May is National Date Your Mate Month. Who knew, right? Regardless, it’s a great opportunity for me to remind you why it’s so important to continue dating your spouse even after you’re married- and especially after you have children.
There are some wonderful comforts of being in a long-term relationship. We can wear our grubbiest weekend clothes, steal a kiss with morning breath, look like a fool dancing, or even lose our temper without worrying too much that our spouse will think less of us. But those perks are not why we fell in love.
Maybe it was the concert tickets that he used to surprise you with, or that she could down a beer in one gulp or maybe it was just that romantic calm in holding hands and having 100% of his/her attention. We fell in love because we felt special, because that person could make us smile like no other and made us feel safe enough to trust. But something happens in between buckling babies into car seats to having teenage drivers that make us fear for our lives- we make less time for those magic moments. Morning pats on the rear or “quickies” don’t exactly scream romance. Gift cards don’t exactly say thoughtfulness. How is it that the one person that hung our moon becomes so low in our priorities?
Careers, family, health, and finances all compete for our attention. Demands and stress eat at us endlessly. It’s easy to be distracted. Beyond distracted. Life is tough and balancing the busy is work. But if all goes as planned, there is one person at the end of the day who is sitting beside you, loving you through all of it. Through the bad haircuts, the loss of a parent, the loss of a job, or our cheerleader when we lose some weight, or get a promotion. That one person has promised to be there for all of it. How dare we not nurture that?
Many moons ago my mom cut out an article from the paper, an act I wonder if is obsolete now, that was an excerpt from the book, “Keeping Your Family Together When the World is Falling Apart” by Kevin Leman. That wise woman set aside a copy for each of her daughters, even though I was only 14 at the time, knowing that it was advice we’d all need someday. And rereading it once in a while is a good reminder of its message. It covers an idea that isn’t new. There is a rising population of women who now work and then come home to their “second job” and husbands not doing their share of the work around the house. Regardless of how it plays out in your family though, I agree with his bottom line. Leman says, “The foundation of every family is the husband and wife…..When your marriage comes first, everything else falls into its proper place…..particularly the overly busy, hard-driving husbands and wives who are trying to juggle career and family- there is more reason than ever to seek refuge in each other.” I love the sound of seeking refuge in each other. When the world goes bad, it’s nice to know that you’ve got one person to always turn to.
And I have to share my other favorite line, “If you’re really interested in keeping your family together, your first decision should not be about what to do with or for the children. Frankly, most parents are doing too much for their children already.” Your dates, your alone time together, has just as much priority on the calendar as all the practices, recitals, playdates, whatever. Your marriage matters!
I don’t care whose “fault” it is. If your marital relationship isn’t being nurtured, now is the time to find your way back! I mean it. No excuses. If you want to be in the marriage, then BE in the marriage. Show your kids how they should be treated by a spouse. Show them what true love looks like. That is a better gift than anything you can buy them.
Need some help figuring out where to even begin with this “date” planning? Well stay tuned- this is a two-parter.