Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wanna go on a "date?"

I've always wondered why when you get married, you're not considered "dating" anymore. You still like them, right? You do enjoy spending time with them, right? Isn't that what dating is??

According to Wikipedia, dating " refers to the act of meeting and engaging in some mutually agreed upon social activity in public, together, as a couple."

If that's the case, you're still dating. And just like when you were in the early lovey dovey courtship stages  - pre kids and chaos - you should make dating your spouse a priority.

But dating takes work. It means planning and taking time away from the whirlwind of appointments, kids and housework. Sadly, most relationships let their activities take precedence and as an effect, relationships aren't being cultivated and nurtured like they should.

Relationship expert and marriage counselor, Michele Weiner-Davis cites kids as being a major reason for the romantic disconnect that may exist between a couple, "As a culture, we have become very child-focused and parents feel like they need to spend all their free time with their kids," she explains, "but parents should spend time with one another for their kids. If they don't spend time with one another, they're not bonding or building [on their] friendship."

As a practicing marriage counselor since the 1980s, Weiner-Davis often comes into contact with couples that are struggling to figure out the reason their relationship is failing. She is often able to cut to the root of the problem by asking one simple question: "When was the last time you went on a date?"

"[A lot of times] they look at each other and say 'I don't know,' or talk about the last baseball game they took little Steven to," explains Weiner-Davis. "They are just not recognizing that romantic time with one another is what a relationship should be about - it should not just be the icing on the cake."

She almost always recommends that couples start instituting a one-on-one "date night" to allow spouses the opportunity to enjoy each other's company...without any distractions.

Says Weiner-Davis, "I encourage couples, regardless of their feelings, to spend more time and catch up on each other's lives. They are surprised the impact it has on their lives and what they were missing. I think it's a lot more powerful than what we can talk about in therapy."

My husband and I have always been very intentional about spending one-on-one time together but Shannon Brown over at Finding Joy in the Journey inspired me even further. I love the idea of her date envelopes...

This basket holds 12 envelopes. Each labeled with a month of the year. And each envelope contains a pre-planned, (mostly) pre-paid date just for us. Some of the dates will take place at home, some are planned for the local area, and some will take us into town. All 12 dates are different. Several, actually nearly all of the dates are things we have never done before.

The plan is to open the envelope together at the beginning of the month, look at the calendar and decide on a date. So right from the beginning of the month, we'll have a fun date on the calendar to look forward to.

If you want to start dating your spouse again, this is an easy place to start. To involve your spouse, have him come up with six dates and you come up with six. Click HERE to read some of her date ideas. This is also a fabulously fun wedding gift. Get creative with fun things to do around town and include gift cards to make it even more memorable.

Keep your courtship alive. Make time to do things together -- just the two of you. As important as it is to be with the children as a family, you need regular weekly time together. Scheduling it will let your children know that you feel that your marriage is so important that you need to nurture it. That takes commitment, planning, and scheduling." - Joe J. Christensen

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