At marriage conferences, we’ll ask how many couples have a weekly date, and it’s saddening to see only a few raised hands. Then we ask, “How many of you had weekly dates when you were dating and engaged?” Boom! Most everyone raises quickly raises their hands and sheepishly glances at each other with the look of “Remember that? That was fun.”
What happened? Why is it that couples who say, “I do” on their wedding day find themselves saying “We don’t” when it comes to dating? Marriage isn’t a club to join so you can stop paying for dates. Dating got you to marriage, and we would argue, that dating your mate helps you do marriage in a more beautiful and enjoyable way.
Here’s the bottom line: married couples who date one another regularly have a more intimate and satisfying marriage. Please understand, a date with your spouse is not the same as going out so you can “talk about all your issues.” We’re not suggesting you go out to a weekly dinner so you can work on your marriage and ask deep questions like “What are the three biggest needs in our relationship and how can I better meet them?” While that might be an important question to ask one another, we would quantify that as work. Dates don’t always need to have the agenda of having an agenda. You don’t always need to be about working on your marriage in order to have a great marriage. Author Leonard Sweet said, “For a marriage to sing and dance, for two people to make beautiful music together, they need to play, not work at their marriage.”
If you’re like most of the people at our marriage conferences you might be thinking, “Come on guys … I get the fun piece, but dating every week. Are you two serious? What planet do you live on?” We hear that every time we make this challenge. Yes, we are serious. Very serious. Weekly sounds like a lot, but as residents of Planet Healthy Marriage, we want you to be our neighbors. Yes, we realize weekly comes around every seven days, but the power of this challenge is the consistency needed to turn this into a habit. Dating one another is one of the areas of marriage that will require you two to look each other in the eyes and say, “We need to do this.”
We’ve been challenging married couples for many years now to date, and we’ve never had one couple tell us that they were disappointed when they accepted our weekly challenge. Actually, the opposite is always true: couples thank us for giving them permission and encouraging them to do what they know they should have been doing all along.
Be courageous enough to make a commitment to start your weekly dates and begin to deepen your marriage with fun. We promise you’ll be thanking us for this specific challenge.
(Adapted from the upcoming book, The First Few Years of Marriage, by Jim Burns and Doug Fields.)