We are rounding out week 78 in quarantine.. or at least that's how it feels. When the stay at home order was implemented I was a little excited. Working from home, yoga pants, Netflix, the stuff of dreams. A few weeks later and I wish I had a reason to get dressed up. I miss going out and being able to do something other than binge watch. If you're feeling anything like I am, I'm sure you're also missing date night. Really connecting with our spouse can be difficult on the best of weeks, we are all busy with work, bills, family, friends, chores but add in a quarantine and things get just a little bit harder. We see them everyday, but don't actually connect. We are with them, but not together. Now more than ever we need to put in a little extra effort to make a deeper connection, to spend time with them not just time beside them. Andy Traub said "Dates got you to a place where you wanted to marry each other, if you want to stay married then keep dating your spouse." and I couldn't agree more.
We Invest In What Matters - When you feel passionate about something you spend as much time as possible on that thing. You sign up for a class, watch YouTube tutorials, do your research to further your skills. We mentally, physically and financially invest in what is important in our lives, but how often do we give our spouse that same level of investment? Our spouse is one of, if not the, most important person in our lives yet they are the ones that tend to get what's leftover at the end of the day. Spending time on our hobbies isn't a bad thing, it's actually good to have interests and activities outside our relationships, but not when all our energies are going into those hobbies and leaving nothing for our spouse. It's important to invest a little extra time, a little extra money, and a little extra brain space to show them that you value their presence as much as you value your golf clubs or paint set.
Your Spouse is Your Constant - I don't have kids, obviously, but for those who do we need to always remember that eventually they're going to leave. Your spouse should always be your #1, no matter what. After a hard day at work, you come home to your spouse. You get exciting news, you call your spouse. You get sick or hurt, your spouse is there to care for you. When you are sitting in your retirement home or galavanting across the globe in your old age, it's your spouse that will be at your side. Children, family, friends will all be there when they can but your spouse is the one who has promised through thick and thin, sickness and health, til death do you part.
A Strong Marriage Requires Strong Connection - Falling in love is easy, staying in love is hard. Being married takes intentional choice every single day. You aren't saying I'll love you until I don't, you're saying I am choosing to love you even when it's difficult. I am willing to work through our issues instead of leaving. I am committing to never giving up on you or us, no matter what. I am here, always. To keep that love growing and thriving we need to keep that connection growing and thriving. Quality time together not talking about the kids or work or chores or the To-Do List. Time spent really enjoying each others company. Laughing, making memories, being silly and remembering why you fell in love with each other in the first place is what will keep that connection strong, even during times it's difficult to connect. The date nights are what carry us through the rest of the week, until we can connect again.
So what do we do about it? Don't Underestimate The "Standard Plans" - Dinner and a movie might seem like a lame date, but only if you let it be. If you surprised your spouse tomorrow evening with dinner and a movie they would likely be ecstatic that you went to the effort of planning something! You can switch up the 'standard date' by checking out a new restaurant, splurging at your favourite fancy dinner place, or see a matinee movie and enjoy dinner afterwards (you can talk about the movie at dinner). Just because plans sound standard, doesn't mean they won't be fun. It doesn't take extravagant plans to have fun and connect with each other, especially if your measuring stick is no plans at all.
Don't be afraid to make a fool of yourself - To me the indication of a great connection is the ability to have fun doing just about anything. We once got invited to a day at a pumpkin patch through my husbands work. We knew that the day was clearly intended for families that have children, but obviously we didn't care. The pumpkin patch was honestly so terrible, but the day made for some great memories of laughing and being silly. We enjoyed the petting zoo, the awful corn maze and some hot apple cider. It wasn't the activity, it was us. We decided to let go, get a little silly, and chose to have fun.
Make Sure You Plan For It - Without scheduling a date night the odds of it actually happening are typically pretty slim. Setting a goal of a date night once a week, or once every other week is setting a goal for what you want your relationship to look like. We need to treat date night as if it's an important appointment not a chore or task to accomplish. No re-scheduling, no cancelling (barring loss of limb or sudden death). Once it's in the calendar, thats it. You can also take turns planning date night so no one feels like they are carrying all the weight.