Mike Berry got his marriage mojo back by dating his spouse—and you can do it, too.
Once upon a time, we put the entire world on pause to spend time with that special someone. Then, we got married and un-paused the world. What ever happened to those long lost dates and why did they stop, or drastically reduce, after we got married?
It happens to the best of us. Even the celebrity couple, who everyone was dotting over, when you were in college. Remember them? We kept every restaurant, near campus, in business late into the night because we couldn’t get enough of each other, and entire days revolved around seeing that special girl or boy.
Your dating life with your spouse might have still be in tact a year or two after marriage, but then something changed. Life took over and gradually the reasons for not going on dates anymore, started to pile up…
- We’re busy.
- We’re tired.
- Our kids have too much going on.
- Work is demanding.
- We’ve lost touch.
- We forgot what got us here.
- We’re bored.
- We have other priorities.
- We’ve lost that feeling.
- We don’t have the money to go on dates.
I get it. Really, I do. In our family, life gets real, and that can happen faster than fast! However, left unchecked for months, or years, and you could find yourself waking up next to the person you once skipped a college class, or ditched friends, to spend time with, and not really know them anymore.
Not dating is not the sole cause of this. Somewhere along the road of marriage we develop amnesia. We forget about the foundation our marriage is actually built on- Communication, alignment, commonality, and partnership.
I wonder … what happened? Did we stop caring? Fall out of love? Make other things a higher priority? Maybe you need something more to fix your marital problems, like counseling, and that’s okay. It’s never a bad thing to raise a flag of surrender and seek help. It shows incredible strength, in fact. But maybe something as simple as starting to date, be alone together, and really talk to your spouse, will help?
No More Excuses
Let’s just call that list above what it is—a bunch of excuses! I’ve made many of them. I admit it. Trust me, I’ve got more fingers pointing back at me than I’m pointing at anyone else. However, that’s not good enough! As far as I’m concerned, none of the reasons above really hold any weight. Why? Well, for starters, we make time for, and invest in, what’s most important to us. There was a day when going on dates, to spend time with the woman or the man you loved and wanted to spend the rest of your life with, was top priority. Really, what changed? (I want you to ask yourself that question).
You can’t even claim lack of money as your reason. After all, in college you were but a vapor away from being homeless you were so poor, and you still went on dates. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
‘We’ Before ‘Them’
One of the biggest excuses, that most married couples use (we have too), is children. We live in an era where it’s socially acceptable to sign our kids up for every extra-curricular activity under the sun. What comes along with this is massive parental involvement. I understand this. My children are involved in a few extra things. And, we are involved parents. This is good thing. But when it comes to our relationships as a married couples, there’s something important we need to remember: Before there was a “them,” there was an “us.”
Think about this with me: your children are important. They are top priority, in fact. They need consistent love, encouragement, and involvement from both parents. However, this in no way means you must sacrifice your relationship as a couple. In fact, this will eventually harm your children. If their parent’s relationship is falling apart, their security and confidence will fall apart.
By all means, involve your children in extra-curricular activities like sports or theater. It builds character and confidence. And, by all means, be involved in their lives, and these activities as much as you can. This is good parenting. But, do not sacrifice your marriage relationship for your children. Intentionally carve out time to be with your first love. Make this a priority and make sure your children know how important it is to you.
Finding That Lovin’ Feeling
I’ve heard it from many married couples over the past 18 years. They’ve lost that loving feeling they once had for one another. Maybe this describes you. If it does, there are 2 things I want you to know:
- Your feelings will change. The infatuation that you first had for your spouse, before they were your spouse, will change. They should change into a deep love and respect for one another, as opposed to just infatuation. So, the feeling you first had should go away. It should turn into something stronger. That something stronger is what sustains your marriage for life.
- You can create new feelings. I believe dating is the answer. It’s not the end-all. Like I said earlier, there’s still communication, and partnership, and that may need something more than dating to fix. But committing yourself to intentionally getting out of the house, and away from the kids, each month will certainly help. The more time you spend together will help you forge new, deep loving feelings for your spouse. Our marriage is living proof of this. We love to date. It’s been a huge value for our entire 16 year marriage and it’s had a big part in keeping us strong.
The Starting Point
There’s no magic formula for beginning to date again, just like there wasn’t a magic formula back when you first met one another. You just … did it! You need to just do it now. That’s your starting point. You can do this pretty inexpensively and creatively too. We do not necessarily do big elaborate dates. We’ll go out to dinner, see a movie, or hit a cocktail lounge for a drink every now and then, but mostly, we just spend time out together. Sometimes we go to coffee shops or for a walk in the park.
The point is, you need to start. The toll on your marriage relationship is too great not to. The toll on your children is just as great. For your family’s sake, intentionally carve out time to do this each month. Call up a babysitter or farm the kids out to their grandparents or a neighbor, and get out on the town!
Originally published on Confessions of a Parent.