As you can see from the title of this article, I have a simple message for those of you who are married. Keep dating your spouse. Yes, I know that advice is so common that it’s a cliché at this point. But many pieces of advice that have lasted long enough to become clichés reached that level because they’re true. If you are married and reading this, it’s important to keep spending time with your spouse. Don’t stop dating them just because you’re married! This is true whether you’re in the early years of marriage like many of my kids are or you’ve been married for 36 years like Jane and I have. Some of you reading this might have even been married longer than us. No matter the length of time you’ve been married, continuing to date your spouse is a key part of a successful marriage.
As you go out on dates, you’ll find that you have different conversations than you do when you’re in the regular flow of life. I don’t know exactly how or why this happens, but getting out of the house and being intentional about spending some time together changes your point of view when it comes to conversations. Instead of talking about what needs to be added to the grocery list or what chores need to be done around the house, you’ll find that it’s much easier to focus on the hopes, dreams and goals that both of you have.
If you’re in the middle of raising kids, it’s especially important that you make some time for yourselves and have these “big picture” conversations because the busyness (and sometimes, chaos) of raising kids at all ages can overwhelm parents to the point that all they can see is the day-to-day schedule and the time and energy it can require.
I like to compare marriage to riding a bicycle built-for-two. In an ideal world, you and your spouse are both pedaling together and planning to go in the same direction. But reality often looks different than our plans, doesn’t it? It’s important to remember that it is way too easy to go through life and realize that what is on the back seat of the bicycle with you is your work, the kids or some other part of your life.
When our kids were younger, I remember being jealous of the time and energy that Jane was pouring into them on a daily basis. By the end of the day, she didn’t have much energy left for me. If you’re in that phase of parenting, just know that it’s normal to feel that way sometimes. But that’s also why it’s important to take some time away together where you focus on each other instead of splitting that focus between the kids, work, household responsibilities, social schedules and the laundry list of everything else competing for your time.
Intentional time together like that gets us back to the point of sharing our bicycle built-for-two with the person who is supposed to be on it. For a moment, I want you to actually picture how ridiculous it would look to see a person riding a bicycle built-for-two by themselves! Spending time together with your spouse and prioritizing them is a great way to make sure that you’re keeping them on the bike with you. And when you do that, you’ll be winning more often at home.