From Palm Beach to Chattanooga to Chicago, cities are embarking on new initiatives to improve the quality and stability of marriages. Politicians and business communities alike are catching on to the fact that poor marriages, on average, weigh down the US economy by $112 million annually.
We know of no couple that exchanges their vows, walks down the aisle, out the door of the church and says “Wow, this is going to be tough“. Newlyweds are the eternal optimists, as if to say “we’re going to be different, we’re going to always enjoy this journey together”. After all, their level of connectedness is probably at an all-time high. Those who have been married for a while are the eternal pragmatists, knowing full well that married life together isn’t always bliss.
The words to a once popular song (and the wise words penned in Ecclesiastes), proclaims that in everything there is a season. If we were to apply this phrase to marriages, we might say “to every marriage there are seasons”.
Being that this month’s trending articles focus on “Thriving Families“, we’d like to offer some thoughts to deepen the relationship with your spouse. As a result, this will have a direct impact on your family’s ability to thrive. Strong marriages make for stronger families.
At the end of the day, it really does boil down to the choices we make. At one end of the spectrum, couples often choose to focus all of their attention on their kids, their career(s), and activities. At the opposite end, thriving couples take a balanced approach and choose to invest the time necessary in their marriages.
Whether you want to reconnect with your spouse, refocus your relationship, or simply hit the reset button after a particularly challenging week, one of the most effective choices you can make is having regularly scheduled date nights. The statistics are clear. According to the National Marriage Research Project, couples who take the time to go on date nights with each other at least once a week (which means leave the kids at home), are more than 3 1/2 times more satisfied in their relationships. Additionally, a couple’s commitment to their marriage more than doubles.
So then, why is it when we first met our spouse, going out on dates was as easy as holding hands. As marriages mature in years, dating each other can become as awkward as two strangers who exchange little more than small talk. Sure, it could just be the season of the relationship, or more likely, it could be the outcome of not spending dedicated time together. If spending time together on date night has become challenging, here are a few suggestions to strive for:
1. Be intentional with your scheduling. Treat your date like any other appointment in your calendar. Try to keep this as a non-negotiable. Reschedule your date only as a last resort. (Husbands, if you take the lead on this, your wife will be immensely blessed.)
2. Maintain an atmosphere of “Safe Harbor” while on your date. Many years ago we attempted a boating trip with friends to an island 2½ hours away. Early in the trip we had to abandon our plans and return back to the mainland because the seas were too rough. It was a tough go of it until we returned to the harbor. Although the waves were crashing over the jetty, inside the harbor it was calm, it was smooth sailing, it was safe. No matter how bad the storms may rage in your life, make your date a safe place of retreat.
3. Make date night a ‘care time’ for each others’ heart. Purpose not to have a closed heart on your date and commit to shut down any thoughts of isolation.
4. Purpose to speak words of high-value over one another and honor each other with your words. Proverbs says a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. In other words, when we speak well of each other, it is both valuable and beautiful.
5. Learn what makes each other laugh. Laughter diffuses tension and awkwardness. Laughing at your spouse’s humor says “I’m with you, I’m on the same page as you“. Additionally, laughter is free, has zero calories, and requires no membership fee!
Remember proactively taking steps to marital satisfaction is a choice not an outcome. Choosing to prioritize quality time as a couple will dramatically change your relationship. The benefits will have a positive impact on your family as well. We’d love to hear your thoughts on how you spend your date nights or any comments you might have on this article. Please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Eddie & Florrie Martell- Island Christian Church’s Marriage Ministry Directors