Photo by Jared Sluyter on Unsplash
Whenever I look back to our first year of marriage, I seem to imagine it in sepia: pregnant and at home in our tiny apartment, I looked forward to my husband coming home so he can enjoy a home-cooked meal I had just learned how to prepare from my mom. “Those were the best days,” I would think. As the years passed, when our family grew a little larger (with one more daughter and a spiritual family – our churchmates) and the scope of hubby’s responsibilities both at work and in church became wider, life became less simple. And though we welcomed the changes, I found myself quietly resentful of times he became too busy and I was left at home, alone. Conversations became more about coordinating schedules than anything else.
Then I got to know a pastor’s wife older than me whose marriage seemed to be steeped in love and romance and joy. One of the secrets I learned from her is how they take time each day to be truly together at the start and at the end of their day: 15-minute morning coffee times at a nook in their home to go through what they expected to take place in their day and a time to just pray for and affirm each other, and at night, 20-minute walks together around their village, both for exercise and to keep abreast of their day’s events, sharing what they thank God for. I was so blessed and inspired! I have not even started talking about the romantic and creative dates they occasionally planned with each other, initiated by either of them!
I realized: it can be done. Dating your spouse every day, for life, can keep the sparks burning! I honestly think it was from their example that my husband Boris and I got inspired to have our almost daily coffee times together and weekly dates just to stay connected, especially in the face of his busy career and our home life.
Couples who have been married for a while can get stuck in maintenance mode: married life could become reduced to being all about the children, schedules, home management, and money concerns. This can take a toll on the couple’s love life, resulting in emotional bankruptcy. Because of this, husband and wife need to carve out time with each other away from the kids and the home for even a few minutes each day and for an extended time ideally once a week. This will help the couple reconnect and rediscover each other as they listen to and truly see each other, away from the pressures of daily life.
Because the day’s events can quickly fill up your schedules, dating each other requires intentionality, consistency, and cooperation. Creativity will enable you to surprise each other with new ways to enjoy each other’s company.
Here’s how to get started:
- Agree with your spouse that your marriage will benefit from a daily time together and a regular weekly date.
- Guard your daily times together. Like coffee times and walks together, daily dates can be simple and inexpensive. Because of this, we should have no reason to miss out on it much. It can be anything that will help you regularly update each other, allow for meaningful conversation, and enable time for prayer and assurance of each other’s love and support.
- Make weekly date schedules regular and predictable. For weekly dates, enlist regular, reliable, and responsible child care. Set a regular schedule that as much as possible should not be easily bumped off for other commitments. Dating on a regular weeknight, for instance, will help make it predictable and hopefully, manageable for the whole family.
- Regular does not mean rigid. If your dating schedule is interrupted by pressing events, make sure to schedule another day within the week or on the nearest available schedule. If the interruption is predictable (ex. a convention you need to attend), agree with your spouse in advance when date night will be moved to this week. Try to avoid missing your regular date night or letting other events crowd it out. Make it clear to family, friends, and workmates that time with your spouse is of prime importance to you.
- Establish some ground rules. Pay close attention. Listen well. Minimize interruptions (especially work-related ones). Learn something new about your spouse and cherish it. Share your heart to your spouse, or something he or she may not yet know about you. Take time to affirm and assure one another of your love. Find ways to bless each other. Pray for your concerns and thank God for each other and for His hand upon your family. Conversations can be light at times, not always about problem solving.
- Keep an idea log for weekly date nights. Movie night, spa time, dining out, coffee and cake time, or an intimate evening away from home can be exciting times together. But date night need not be expensive: You can find a safe and quiet park to picnic together, walk in the mall and eat at your favourite fast food together, or even drive to a nice place with a good view of the stars near the metro. What’s important is the company you keep and the quality of your conversation.
- Make every moment count. Outside of your scheduled dates, cherish any time you have in each other’s presence, working in the same room, doing chores or errands, time with the kids. An unexpected free afternoon together can be a great time for a spontaneous drive to Tagaytay for coffee!
Marriage does not have to fall into a boring rut; it takes a lifetime to truly and deeply know each other. Regular dates with your spouse can help keep the lovelight burning as you enjoy times together, get to know each other deeper, and bond together in love and prayer. And when they see their parents continue to love each other, children feel secure and families are strengthened. Taking time to be with each other is a good investment for the marriage relationship and the family after all.
Do you have date ideas you want to share with other married couples? Places to recommend? Creative dating activities you enjoyed? Get other couples inspired! Share them here!
Michelle Joaquin is the editor-in-chief of Familywise Asia and is wife to Boris and mom to daughters Ysobel, 18, and Julia, 12.