My hubby and I have come to realize the importance of dating each other. We try to have at least 1 or 2 dates a month. We need them and would do them weekly if our schedules allowed for them more often! Most often we go to dinner, but sometimes we see a movie. And since there is a Lowe's store in the nearby city where we most often go to eat, we almost always end up spending a portion (and sometimes far too long) in Lowe's shopping for supplies for whatever our current project is. Is that romantic? Nope. But we are spending time together (trying to find mirror hangers when even the sales associate doesn't know where they might be), making decisions together (should we paint the porch swing in Gentle Wave or Aqua Ocean?), focusing on a common goal (on how to make more functioning storage in our master closer), dreaming together (of the deck we want to build sometime in the future). And somehow in the midst of all those paint swatches and 2x4's, we find our spark again. The spark that so easily gets buried under busyness, unmet expectations, laundry and lawn-mowing. The spark that reaffirms that we are in this together, and together we can overcome anything that comes our way. The spark that gets us through until our next date.
If your marriage is feeling strained or just lacking excitement, I urge you to give dating a try. I know some parents of young kids (and sometimes even older ones) have a hard time leaving their kids to spend time together....they want to take the kids along. DON'T! Don't feel guilty and don't take them along! I promise you that you will not get the same benefits as you would if it were just the two of you. One of the best things we can model for our kids is a healthy happy marriage. Kids feel secure when they see that their mom and dad love each other! And when our marriage is thriving, it naturally trickles down into our parenting, our homemaking, our friendships and other relationships in our lives. And dates don't have to consist of leaving your home or spending money. Sometimes we get a sitter for the kids and just stay home, make pizza or popcorn and watch a movie. You could take a walk around your neighborhood. You could just go our for dessert instead of paying for the price of an entire dinner. Go hiking at a nearby state park. Take a bike ride on the nearby rails-to-trails. Make a fire in the outdoor fire pit and have s'mores. Lay in the hammock (or the kids' trampoline) together and look at the stars.
In addition to our one day/night dates we also try to go away for a weekend alone together at least once a year, but try to shoot for twice. Our most recent weekend getaway was to Latrobe, PA. This was our second year in a row visiting here! We went two years ago and stayed at the Willow House Cottage, which we fell in love with upon walking in the front door. (Not to mention, the owner is super nice!)
That year, we saw a waterfall, natural water slides, and learned some history about Ohiopyle, PA, and toured Fallingwater.
I am almost out of wine already, so we should probably plan another visit back there soon! As I type this, those fond memories flood my mind and I am reminded of just how important those weekend getaways are to both of us! Next year, celebration of our 15 wedding anniversary, we are planning to take a trip to Punta Cana for a WEEK! We have only ever gone on a week long vacation without kids (besides our honeymoon) one other time, but it revolutionized our marriage. We don't take those week long getaways as often as I'd like to, but I would need to get a 2nd or 3rd job in order to finance them!
My hubby and I had a date day yesterday. We were both off of work and spent the entire day together. We really enjoy each other's company and he truly is my best friend. And the example from Lowe's listed above? Yep...those were the decisions we were making in real life! We probably spent 2 hrs in Lowe's, but I didn't care (that is, until my stomach started letting me know it was lunchtime). We were together. And that's the best place to be.