I recall going on my first date with my husband. I was so nervous and anxious. I remember when he asked me I jumped for joy inside! He said that he wanted to make dinner at his house and told me what time to be there. I was bringing a salad. I remember meticulously cutting each vegetable the same size to make it perfect, what can I say I wanted to make a good impression because he was a catch, he was good looking and he cooked!
Prior to our date, I remember going shopping for the perfect casual outfit and spending a couple hours on the “perfect casual hair style”. I selected a nice pair of shoes and headed for the door. With a lump in my throat, I got in the car and drove the ½ mile to his house. As I walked to the front door I could feel my legs shaking because of nerves and excitement. I knocked, he answered and smiled with his perfect smile and invited me inside.
From that point forward we dated for about a year. We went on hikes, out to dinner, skiing, boating, shopping, the movies, hanging out watching TV, and just about anything else that seemed fun and exciting to us. During this time we bonded, shared experiences, communicated, got to know one another more, and became best friends. Because of all the time we shared together, we knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, so we decided to get married. It was the happiest time so far in our lives. We continued to have weekly date nights and keep the spark alive; then something changed, we moved and then had a baby!
This is when the dating sort of came to a halt.. We were in a new area and had no idea what to do, where to go, and we had a nursing baby who couldn’t be left. We had all kinds of excuses, and besides, WE WERE TOTALLY FINE, so we thought :). Over time we became a little more independent of each other, kids took the priority getting them where they needed to go, jobs became a little more demanding and stressful. Our relationship got placed on the backburner because like I said, we were totally fine and could handle all of this! Our nights soon followed the same pattern: my husband would come home from work, we would eat dinner, focus on the kids, tuck them in, turn off all the lights, go into our room, turn on the TV, and then we would eventually fall asleep.
After several months of this, I began to feel lost in our relationship and felt like I no longer knew my husband like I once did, but I could not pinpoint the source of the problem, and besides like I said before we were fine, it was just a rut we were in.. Then something I dreaded happened! We had to drive to a family reunion that was 24 ½ hours away, who wants to be in the car for that long with kids?!
Something amazing occurred while we were gone… Our kids were perfect angels and I got my husband’s attention for most of the car ride both ways! We were able to reconnect and establish some of the breakdowns that had happened. Our relationship was flourishing on so many different levels! From that moment on we realized the importance of time together and dating each other! Since then we have made it a point to date one another and continue to grow together, not apart.
Here’s why dating your spouse is important!
- Your Relationship needs to go on Dates. Relationships are ever changing and complex. In order for relationships to continue to grow you need to feed them and you do this by going on dates and spending time with each other.
- Helps You Reconnect. It is a misconception to say that you know everything there is to know about your spouse. People are always changing, just like your relationship.. Going out with one another allows you to get away for a few hours from your crazy hectic lives and focus on one another. Going on dates is the perfect opportunity to deepen your relationship by learning more about each other (Smalley & Smalley, 2013). It helps you not only promote more intimacy in a relationship, but helps develop your friendship as well! John Gottman (2003) said, “Based on our research, I believe that failure to connect is a major cause of our culture’s high divorce rate.” Don’t know where to start? Well, check out our what to talk about on dates page! Or you can check out Dr. Gottman’s ideas on how on enhancing your love maps!
- It’s a Future Investment. Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley (2013) said, “Just like a savings account, the more you invest in your relationship, the more it will grow exponentially over time.” You hear of couples who focus on their children throughout their lives and then their children leave the home and they become empty nesters in their rocking chairs looking at each other without really knowing what to do or talk about because they failed to invest in the relationship (Smalley & Smalley, 2013). Gottman (1999) has concluded through his study that couples that spend at least 5 hours a week strengthening their relationship had the most successful relationships over time. F. Burton Howard has said, “If you want something to last forever you treat it differently. You shield it and protect it… You don’t make it common or ordinary. If it becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleams new. It is special because you made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by.”
- It takes away the Distractions. Every day spouses are pulled every direction possible: work, kids activities, friends, community commitments, religious commitments, and the list goes on! Dates help couples keep their relationship as the number one priority in their life.
- Takes you on a Trip Down Memory Lane! Dates help you remember life before you were married, the fun things you did, the places you went, and the things you talked about. As you think about these things it helps you remember why you fell in love with your spouse and why you want to spend the rest of your lives together!
- Sends Positive Messages. As you date your spouse, it sends positive messages to everyone around you. It shows them how important and how much you value your relationship with your husband or wife. This is especially important to show your kids just how special marriage is. They need to see you go out holding hands and come back smiling more in love than when you left. If they see this, they will want this as well and they will look for it as they are finding a spouse. They will know marriage is precious, valuable, and special (Smalley & Smalley, 2013). I know it is hard to find a babysitter, I know that it is expensive at times, but look for our babysitting ideas for some low cost ways to go on dates! Date nights help communicate this same message to your spouse; it lets them know how special they are in your eyes and how much you value time with them.
- Strengthens the Bond. The more time you spend with one another, the stronger your bond will become. It will bring you closer together and bring more intimacy into your relationship.
- Brings Back the Spark. Remember when you were first married and you could not get enough of each other? Now, are you are caught up with all the daily tasks of life and are exhausted and just want to go to sleep at the end of a long day? Well, going out with one another helps bring that spark and excitement back in your relationship. It helps keep the romance alive (Smalley & Smalley, 2013).
- Helps DE stress. A relationship needs that time to de stress because it is constantly stressed, just as much as the individuals within it are. From having a lack of communication, to getting cranky at each other from a lack of sleep, or even just not being able to see each other during daylight hours due to work conflicts, a relationship takes its hits. “Stress is one of the biggest threats to a strong marriage or relationship. Stress related to work, finances, parenthood, or illness can prove corrosive to a relationship, insofar as it causes one or both partners to become irritable, withdrawn, violent, or otherwise difficult to live with” (Dew, 2015). John Gottman (2003) said, “Family stress caused by a couple’s failure to connect can also affect the well-being of their children. Our studies show that children raised in homes with a high level of marital hostility have chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.” Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley (2013) said, “A date night should be free from the distractions of children, extended family, friends, or work. It should represent an opportunity for you to rediscover the person you fell in love with.”
- Strengthens How Committed you are! As you date you are sending a message to your spouse that you are 100 percent committed to making your relationship work and be successful. You are saying divorce is not an option because I am committed to strengthening my relationship with you and building our bond (Smalley & Smalley, 2013).
- Helps you Communicate! On dates, couples have a chance to discuss their hopes, dreams, and plans for the future. Sometimes, talking about these things can encourage one spouse to make a change in their life or pursue one of their own dreams. Gary Chapman, (2005) said, “Most of us have more potential than we will ever develop. What holds us back is often courage. A love spouse can supply that all-important catalyst.” The more you communicate away from the concerns and stresses of life, the better it helps you understand each other. It also helps you work through things in low stress situations. Because you communicate on dates, it allows better understanding and communication in stressful or contentious situations in your relationship.
Throughout this blog we will give you date ideas, things to do with one another, ways to develop your relationship, and just have fun to strengthen your bond, your commitment and relationship with one another! Now, let’s go date our spouse!
Chapman, G. (2005).The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts. Chicago, IL: Northfield Publishing.
Cohn, D. (2015). Pew Research Center Social and Demographic Trends.
Gottman, J. (2003). The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships. New York, New York: Three Rivers Press.
Gottman, J. (2003). The seven principles for making marriage work. New York: Crown Publishers.
Larson, Aaron. Great Dates Houston. 28 July 2015.
Smalley, G. & Smalley, E. (2013). Take the Date Night Challenge. Colorado Springs, CO: Focus on the Family.