We are about to roll up on 10 years of marriage. That’s right, in less than two weeks we will have officially been married a whole decade! One thing that I love most about our marriage is that I genuinely enjoy spending time with this guy. Sure, there are plenty of times that we drive each other crazy and need our space, but for the most part – what we really want – is time together.
No matter where you are at in the marriage game, I believe one of the most important things you can do for your relationship is to carve out time to be together. Some people call it “date nights,” some people don’t call it anything. But what really matters is not what you do or what you call it, but just the fact that you are spending time together as a couple.
For the record, I love socializing with Mike and other people. I genuinely enjoy watching Mike as he interacts with our group of friends. I feel like I can always learn something new about him and appreciate him more through the eyes of others.
However, socializing with your spouse and dating your spouse are two different things. I think both are important. Just as much as I need to get out with our friends and be social in a group, I also need to simply be alone with my hubby. I think most couples are usually better at one or the other, but for the sake of today’s post, I’m going to share my favorite way’s to date my husband.
One of our favorite things to do is to go out for a nice meal, preferably in the city. However, if we aren’t able to drive 45-60 minutes to get to Akron or Cleveland, we have some wonderful non-chain restaurants available to us in downtown Wooster, a quick drive from our house.
I’m a good planner and often times I’ll think of fun things for us to do on our date in advance. However, what really makes me feel cared for are the times that Mike comes up with an idea on his own. This has been a slow process of me learning to clearly (and kindly 🙂 ) communicate my expectations, and Mike learning to hear me and plan ahead.
So last week, after coming home from vacation, I was really touched when Mike came up with plans (and reservations!) on his own for us to spend some time together. We loved being together as a family non-stop while on vacation, but we didn’t get to spend as much time one-on-one as we would have if it had been just the two of us. (An obvious statement, I know.) As much fun as we had together as a family, we were both craving the refreshment of some time together alone.
Mike planned for us to do a tour of some of our favorite downtown Wooster restaurants and enjoy a leisurely progressive dinner. We started out with appetizers at one spot, then walked to my new favorite restaurant for dinner. After dinner, I was too stuffed to think about dessert, so we walked off our meal at a department store and picked up a few new shirts for the boys, and a nice dress shirt for Mike. I got a hoodie because, momma gotta stay comfortable, you know?
As much as I loved the place Mike had picked out for dessert, nothing they had really sounded good to me that night. So, we wound up sitting out on our local Starbuck’s patio, drinking coffee and continuing our conversation. It was a lovely evening with a beautiful sunset!
To top the evening off, I came home to a surprise bouquet of flowers. Mike knew that I was bummed to be back in Ohio after a week in the south; now that’s a hubby that pays attention!
Dating comes so naturally when you are single and in love. It takes more intention, thought and effort when you are married. There are a few things I’ve learned about spending time with my husband that I’d like to share. Hopefully they will help you and encourage you if you are on the journey to spend more quality time alone with your spouse!
1. As with anything in marriage, communication is key. I can’t even tell you how many fights we have had over the years because my unspoken expectations went unmet. It’s not fair to expect something of your partner if you don’t clearly and kindly share your heart with them in a neutral setting (in other words, not 10 minutes before you expect this magical thing to happen).
I’ve had to learn to carve out time to sit down with Mike and share with him the things that are really important to me. And yes, I’ve had to continue to advocate for those things until Mike made them a priority himself. Sometimes I advocated by getting mad (the wrong way), and some times I advocated by have calm, adult conversation (the right way). Hey, it’s a process, people.
2. Be willing to be surprised/do something new/try something out of your comfort zone. Again, I’ve been disappointed SO many times in the past because we didn’t do EXACTLY what I wanted to do during our date. It’s one thing to have a plan, it’s another thing entirely to have such high and precise expectations that you leave no room for surprise, change or heck, the other person’s opinion! Be open to what your partner wants, too!
3. Don’t be boring. Seriously. If you always do the same ole thing when you are alone together, well, just stop. Pick a new town. Pick a new restaurant. Try a new activity. Anything. I implore you. Nobody wants to be around a boring doo-doo head, including your spouse.
4. Avoid contentious or routine conversation. It might be tempting to bring up the fact that you’ve had it up to HERE with your spouse leaving his dirty clothes on the floor, but for goodness sake, don’t. That’s just mean. Your partner is basically a vulnerable sitting duck on date night, so do everyone a favor, and leave those conversations for another time (another planned time), and just enjoy yourselves.
Also, avoid the routine conversations that we so easily slip into mid-week when our minds and schedules are full. Ask you partner a fun question (What’s one hobby you would enjoy if you had the talent/money? If you had to move into a “tiny house,” what three belongings would you have to bring with you? Where is one place you would like to visit? etc.) Go back to the basics that you used to talk about when you first met and fell in love. That is always a great place to start!
5. Just do it. Seriously. Your relationship needs to be made a priority. You can’t expect your marriage to thrive if you don’t first make it a priority. So no matter what your excuses are, commit to spending one-on-one time together on a regular basis.
One caveat – I know the struggle to find sitters, especially when you have multiple children and/or live away from family, can hinder your availability to get out with your partner. Or maybe your barrier is financial.
Over the years, Mike and I have experienced both barriers and I will say, although it’s not perfect, you always have the option to stay in for a date, or take your kids along. I know, I know, neither one of those sound like a recipe for a “date,” right? I will say, however, that some of my favorite moments with Mike were born out of a late night pizza delivery after the kids were in bed, a bottle of good wine and conversation, right at home.
It’s easy to simply take care of business when we are home. We take care of the kids, the house, the bills and then we just want to relax. But choosing to be intentional about connection with your partner within your own walls can be just as satisfying as a night out on the town.
As for the kids…Sure, they are exhausting and they never stop talking and you can’t keep a single line of conversation going when they are around. And yet…
We attended a wedding this weekend. Theo did well, Oliver did not. I don’t know what it is about my children, but when they are in public, they act like rabid raccoons set loose in a crowd. They are loud, scrappy and uncontrollable. Mike and I didn’t sit together the whole evening, or even have a shred of conversation. We barely got to eat, let alone dance together (actually, we had to leave before it even started!).
Despite the imperfect details, I still loved the time together with my man. I loved looking over at him, all spiffed up and taking care of one of the boys, and knowing that he was mine. On the way home that night, I read an IG post from one of my favorite moms to follow and it reflected the heart of what I’m trying to say:
Because the hard road taken with the ones you love is 1,000 times better than the easy road taken alone. In the end, it’s not about having it all together, but rather, about doing it together.
Mike and I certainly don’t have it all together. But we are in this together, through thick and thin. He is my guy, and I’m his girl. We make spending time together a top priority, because love, like any living thing, needs tended to grow.