This guest post by Jason and Erin Champion originally appeared on their website TheHookahAffair.com. They have been married for 17 years. TheHookahAffair is an honest blog about real marriage. Honest. Simple. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Erin and I only dated for three months before marrying. Yep, three months. Actually, we had only known each other for three months before marrying. We wouldn’t recommend that route for anyone but it has (by God’s grace) worked for us. We are about to celebrate 17 years together.
We had kids immediately after marrying so our dating life ended quickly.
I (Erin) always knew that I wanted to date Jason after marriage. But like most couples, we didn’t have very much money early on. Young kids completely depleted our energy so I didn’t give it a lot of thought. So I would say things to myself like “we will date when we have more money” or “we will date when the kids are older”. Please note, I would say those things to myself and rarely to Jason.
I (Jason) was busy trying to figure out how to financially support my new family so dating my wife wasn’t something I ever thought about. Sure, we talked a lot about the vacations we wanted to take or all the places we wanted to eventually travel to but “dating” wasn’t on my radar.
we were already married so the work was already done, right?
That wasn’t a conscious thought but that was definitely the way I functioned early in our marriage.
We both come from families of origin where a healthy marriage wasn’t modeled. So neither of us ever saw our parents date. We didn’t understand the importance of continuing to date one another after marriage.
So much of the irritability, stress, discontentment and frustration in your marriage possibly stems from the fact that you have stopped doing the very thing that brought you together in the first place. Dating.
Do you remember how you felt, before marriage, when you were going on a date with your then boyfriend/girlfriend? The preparation. The anticipation. The butterflies? It was usually a call, a text or depending on your age, a page (yes, Erin had a pager when we first met). But regardless, it was exciting. It was intentional.
You would spend days thinking about what you were going to wear. Where you going to go. What you were going to talk about and how the night would end. It was AWESOME!
As our kids got older we had more time to be together. But at that point, we were in a serious rut of the occasional dinner together, maybe even a movie but our dates were still an afterthought and only happened when we had time. In retrospect, they weren’t usually real dates. Because when we did go out, our conversations were reactive. Talking about the kids, family, finances, etc.
Going out to dinner once a month and talking about the kids is not a date.
Let’s talk about why dating your spouse after marriage matters. There are several reasons but here are seven (7) for you to consider:
1. It keeps the romance alive
Let’s face it, the romance was the original draw, right? You both want it and if you’ve lost it, then you both miss it. Dating will rekindle that spark and remind of you why you fell for one another in the beginning.
2. Dating your spouse lets them know they are a priority to you
Planning a date tells your spouse that they are still special to you. Just the idea that you took time to plan a night out or even a night in provides a sense of desire for one another. Date night says “you are special to me and you are worth my time and effort.”
3. It’s fun
It’s not a secret, dating is fun. Getting dressed up or even getting dressed down for a night out or in with your spouse is a lot of fun!
4. It models a healthy marriage for your kids
Your kids are watching. Men, do you want to show your daughter what a real man looks like? Date your wife. Women, do you want to show your son what he should expect from his future wife? Date your husband.
5. It’s cheaper than counseling and/or divorce
Dating is likely what made you want to marry in the first place. It has been proven that not dating and not being intentional is likely what will make you want to divorce. It will certainly lead to some real problems…if it hasn’t already.
6. Dating your spouse creates intimacy (in-to-me-see)
Intimacy isn’t just sex. Sure, sex is part of it but intimacy is so much more than just sex. Dating your spouse will connect or reconnect you and your spouse at your core.
7. It keeps a sense of freshness and adventure in the marriage
Dating will keep you both engaged and gives you something to look forward to. It breaks the routine that all married couples fall into. A good and regular date night will breathe new life into your marriage.
Your marriage has to be your top priority – over the kids, over your job over your hobbies. Your marriage comes first. If your marriage is inline, everything else will fall into its proper place. And intentionally dating your spouse is great way to keep you marriage at the top of your priorities list.
Dating does not have to expensive, in fact, you can plan and go on an incredible date and not spend a dime. The quality of your date has nothing to do with the amount of money you spend on the date. The quality of the date has everything to do with how intentional and attentive you are when you are alone with your spouse. Both your kids and your cell phone can change a good date to a horrible date. So, if possible, leave them at home.
If you must bring your phone on the date, then put them both in a purse and agree to only check them once every hour…just in case the babysitter needs you. But social media, even if you are just posting a photo to brag, can wait until the date is over.
People with great marriages have great marriages on purpose. Great marriages don’t just happen. Both spouses have to be intentional in every aspect of the marriage.
Erin and I have a total of four dates per month: Two “fun” dates and two “working” dates. We are each responsible for planning one of the fun dates every month. We will talk more about working dates in a future post but the accountability of planning one fun date a month keeps us both involved in bettering our marriage. We will share some of our date ideas in a future blog as well.
We challenge you to make your marriage a priority by making date night a priority. Sit down with you spouse and plan one date night each over the next 30 days. Be creative and try to out-do one another.
Thanks so much for sharing with us, Jason and Erin! You are awesome!
If you would like more evidence for the importance of dating your spouse check out my new 45 page ebook, 5 Scientific and 84 Expert Reasons to Never Stop Dating Your Spouse. It is free and no email is required. Feel free to share with anyone you think would benefit!