As usual, the pushback I got was expected and normal.
Things like: we don’t have time, we don’t have money, we spend time when we can (when time magically appears one guy told me), we have kids so that isn’t possible, we don’t know what to do, date nights aren’t that important, we’ll get away someday or my favorite: my marriage doesn’t need date nights.
My response: you don’t have time not to. You don’t have time to not make spending intentional time together as a couple not happen. It is that important.
Let’s take a step back to when you were dating.
You spent all kinds of time together. You would sit on the couch and just be together, you would leave notes for each other, you would take walks together, you would watch movies and eat ice cream. Now, which of those cost more than $10?
None of them.
Yet, the older we get and the longer we’re married, we make all kinds of reasons (and excuses) as to why we don’t we spend intentional time together.
That’s the key word: intentional.
I don’t care if you call it date night, a weekly meeting or the 2 hours I spend with my spouse each week.
But if you don’t spend time building into your relationship, something or someone else will.
A common thing I hear is: who has the time for that? Between sports, bed time, work, school, hobbies, the list goes on and on. Again, it doesn’t have to be a lot, it needs to be intentional. I know a couple who walks together 30 minutes each day to build into their relationship. Katie and I used to spend an hour each night talking before bed. I would sit on a chair (we bought a chair that we put right next to the bed so I could sit up and not fall asleep, I’m not kidding) and we would talk to end our day.
The question you have to ask: what is getting my time that should be going to my spouse? All of the things you do, you don’t have to do. You waste time. Everyone does. Take some of that wasted time and spend it with your spouse. Stop binging on Netflix, don’t sleep in on Saturday and maybe you should quit your adult softball or soccer league, so you can spend time as a couple together.
Here’s a common one: I have young kids and I can’t be away from them for more than 2 hours because one of them is nursing.
Great. You have 2 hours. Use it wisely. Take a long walk. Go out somewhere for coffee. Hit up McDonalds. Do something out of the house. Take your child with you and get dressed up and intentionally go somewhere instead of getting takeout because you didn’t feel like making dinner. When you were dating, you would drive 45 minutes to see your now spouse for 5 – 10 minutes, just to see them. Do that now. Instead of wasting two hours doing nothing productive, build into your marriage.
I don’t have money is the one I hear the most often.
The reality is, great date nights don’t have to be expensive, they just have to be intentional. Plan them. Do it at home. Put the kids down, put on a special playlist on spotify (I made several for our date nights to rotate through although Katie can’t tell the difference), turn off your phones and notifications and be together. Eat some fancy dessert (cheesecake factory to go!) and be together. The rule for us on date night is no electronics so we can focus on each other.
I had a conversation after my sermon and a guy told me, “My marriage doesn’t need a date night.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this and every time I shake my head.
Here’s what is true about every couple who has ever told me this. I mean every because I’ve heard it so many times. Ready?
They are all either divorced now or unhappy. Every couple. The ones who aren’t are putting on a front right now. Don’t believe me? Get them alone and ask them point blank how their marriage is and push hard on it.
Did this guy need date nights to get married? Yep.
What changed? Their expectations as to how great their relationship could be changed. Their desire for each other, their need for time together has not changed.
I remember reading a mom blog once and the blogger was talking about how her parents and grandparents didn’t have date nights when they were married and how they had good marriages in spite of that, so all the talk that her marriage and marriages today needed it was not necessary.
One thing to keep in mind with this, is the time. Is marriage in 2015 and parenting different than marriage in 1985? 1965? Yes and no. But before simply taking “my grandparents did this in 1955 so I can do the same thing” make sure it is apples to apples. Email, social media, netflix binging, kids school and sports, all of those things are different than in 1985.
A few years ago a woman told me the same thing after a sermon I did on marriage. She said afterward in her pushback how her marriage was great without time together. A few weeks after she told me this, I saw her and asked how she was doing. She almost started crying as she said, “My husband is so busy with work and school, we just don’t have time for each other.”
To me, that is just heartbreaking.
I don’t care what you call it, but if you aren’t intentionally building into your marriage each, someone or something else will.
But what about later in life? The couple who says, “We are pouring our lives into our kids and we’ll be together when they move out.” First, how do you know you’ll live that long? I have several friends right now, my age, with kids the same age as mine, with stage 3 or stage 4 cancer. Will that work for them?
In fact, more and more couples are getting divorced later in life because they spent all their lives pouring into their kids or their hobbies that when it is just them and their spouse, they realize they are roommates and there is no real reason to stay together because, the kids are gone.
Again, that is heartbreaking.
I realize this is a rant and kind of my soapbox, but to me, if you are going to be married, why wouldn’t you want it to be as great as it possibly could be?