Intentionally Dating Your Spouse

By Shawn Callander

Take a moment to reflect on when you and your spouse first started dating. Those were exciting days, weren’t they? Most likely as you began to date, every Friday or Saturday was filled with a new adventure to kindle this new-found relationship. There were movies to see, nature trails to explore, great meals to enjoy and late-night conversations. It was a season of new experiences!

However, dating tends to change for couples after they say, “I do,” and especially when couples welcome their first child into the world. Watching movies late into the evening turns into late-night baby feedings and diaper changes. Saturdays become “game day“ as couples cheer on their kids at various sporting events. Honestly, it can feel as if the schedule will never slow down! Now, don’t get me wrong—kids are awesome—but at times they are needy (can I get an amen?). As a result, dating times become a precious commodity. This new season of life means that if couples are not intentional to strengthen their marriage through “date nights,” then the relationship can become neglected or put on the back burner.

Personally, my wife and I can attest to how fast-paced schedules have caused us to forget just how essential and beneficial date nights are to our relationship. Subsequently, we recognize the need to be intentional about making date nights a priority in our relationship. While our date nights aren’t always elaborate, we have learned that when we are intentional about “dating,” the quality of our marriage soars up and to the right. Date nights help our communication; they rekindle our romance and allow us time to evaluate the health of our marriage. Because date nights are critical to a healthy marriage, here are a few tips to get your date nights moving in the right direction.

Put it on the calendar – I like what author and communicator Michael Hyatt has said, “What gets scheduled gets done.” This sentiment is true when it comes to dating your spouse. If we don’t plan for a date in advance, the whirlwind of life often sidetracks us from our good intentions. The truth is, good marriages don’t just happen; they have to be prioritized, nurtured, and fostered. Just as we schedule routine car maintenance or health checkups, we must also intentionally plan date nights. The health of a relationship can be measured by the amount of time invested in it. By putting it on the calendar, you are proactive about your relationship and its overall health. Not only does it signal to your spouse that you are serious, but scheduling also creates excitement and anticipation as you look forward to time together.

Think creatively – Find ways to change up your date nights by incorporating different activities into them. For example, play mini-golf, go to a shooting range, have a picnic in a park, attend a symphony, or learn to paint. Making new memories together will deepen your relationship and create conversation not only on that date, but also for years later as you reflect on your experiences together.

Turn off the phone – Recently, my wife and I were at a restaurant celebrating my birthday when we noticed a couple near us who were out on a date night as well. Unfortunately, instead of talking as they waited for their food to arrive, they sat there scrolling through the latest news on their phones. While I recognize we live in a digital world, our digital devices can make it difficult to have a meaningful conversation. Let me implore you to place your phone on “do not disturb” while on a date. By avoiding the digital distraction, you will ensure that your spouse receives your undivided attention so that healthy communication can take place.

Be prepared – If couples are not careful, dates can fall into the “family meeting” trap where the conversation focuses on the family calendar, discussing school projects or working through financial issues. To avoid this trap, think through questions which will foster healthy conversation. For example, share three highs/lows from the week or use the date as an opportunity to tell your spouse what you like about him or her. On a lighter note, share an embarrassing moment from your life that you haven’t shared before. Wherever the conversation leads during the date, it is important to remember that “date nights” are used to foster a healthy marriage. Date nights are not the time to talk about problems with your finances, family members or other subjects negative in nature. If at any point the conversation takes a downward spiral, hit the pause button to avoid a disastrous date night.

Have Fun – Perhaps the most important thing to do is to have fun! Date nights should be something you look forward to, so keep in mind not every date has to be elaborate or expensive. Some of the best dates my wife and I have had cost us very little. Keep things light and fun, and most of all, enjoy each other’s company. Remember this: Dating your spouse isn’t meant to be hard!

Now, we all know that relationships are tricky to keep going, and this goes for those of us in ministry as well. However, with a little preparation, prayer, creativity and intentionality, we can create awesome date-night experiences for our wives. By continuing to date our wives even after we said, “I do,” it will reinforce the bonds of marriage and create better communication, a stronger sense of commitment, and overall less stress in the relationship. So, commit this year to being intentional about dating your spouse, and I believe you will find the passion you experienced early in your marriage was only the beginning of what God wants to do in and through your marriage. Make it a great year!

For additional ideas about date nights, click the links below to our HOMELIFE ministry at Prestonwood.

 

http://prestonwood.org/media/resources/homelife/homelife-marriage-date-night—new-marriage-connections

http://prestonwood.org/media/resources/homelife/homelife-marriage-rekindled—reconnect

http://prestonwood.org/media/resources/homelife/homelife-marriage-date-night—hand-in-hand

http://prestonwood.org/media/resources/homelife/homelife-marriage-date-night—romantic-movie-night

http://prestonwood.org/media/resources/homelife/homelife-marriage-rekindled—relive

Shawn Callander serves as Minister of Marriage & Family Life at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. Follow Shawn on Twitter at @shawncallander.