inspiring joy filled living

How to Strengthen Your Marriage Right Now

May 7, 2020

Why We Need Date Night

 One of the biggest blessings in my life happened 13 years ago when I married my best friend.  He is my partner in parenting crime and my favorite person in the world to snuggle up with on the couch.  Through the years we have weathered storms and our relationship has definitely been tested. 

The biggest lesson we have learned is how important it is to invest in each other.  When our marriage is strong, then the best versions of ourselves emerge.  We are better parents and frankly better people when we are connected emotionally.  The daily grind of life has taught us that the best way to strengthen our marriage is to be intentional. 

Intentional with our time, our words, even our thoughts.  Intentional with our choices, priorities, and plans.  Our intentions shape our actions and our actions result in outcomes.  The best analogy I can think of is that marriage is very similar to a savings account.  The more time, effort, and energy you invest the more it grows.  And when life is difficult and withdrawals happen, you still have enough in reserves to sustain even through trying times. We learned that lesson first-hand when my hubs was very sick several years back.  Long story short, we are very blessed that despite the odds he is still with us today.

Marriage Advice In Unlikely Places

I love learning from others who have gone before me in their marriage journey’s.  What worked, what didn’t, where are the landmines, what were the out-of-the-park home-runs.  It’s funny the places you can pick up marriage wisdom.  This relationship gem came from my doctor of all people.  I was seeing him for my yearly physical when he shared this insight.  After asking all the standard questions, reading over my bloodwork, asking how much I exercise, confirming that I haven’t started using any illicit drugs, he then asked me about our marriage.  (He also knows my hubby because we see the same doctor).  

Anyways, I said we were fine, just crazy busy because….well, we have three kids…and it’s BANANAS.  He then said something that struck me.  He said once a month we needed a date night, once a quarter we needed a weekend away and once a year we needed a whole week vacation just the two of you.  I was like, what the?! That sounds amazing…BUT…and then all the objections filled my head.  

Here’s the zinger.  

He said his wife is a divorce attorney and the cost of those dates and vacations throughout the year is waaaaay cheaper than visiting her in her office.  The physical, mental, emotional and financial impact of NOT investing in our marriage was huge.  Our best safeguard is to spend time, energy and resources in making our marriage the best it can be.  He said he was speaking from experience because he has four kids and it isn’t always easy to find the time. But it was always worth it. I’ll be honest, we still haven’t followed all of his recommendations to the letter, but we have definitely become more mindful of how we spend our time.

Right now we just passed the seven-week mark of being in quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Life as we knew it has been completely disrupted and all our plans have essentially gone out the window.  When the quarantine lifts I can’t wait to go to the Red Onion (one of our favorite Mexican restaurants!) and eat chips and salsa with my favorite guy!  In the meantime, I am being mindful of committing to our monthly date night from our own home.  

Here are some of my favorite ideas for a Date Night In.

His last bit of advice was that the actual date night or trip was only ONE piece of the joy.  The bigger part was actually the before and after.  And this is what we can all lean into and do right NOW.  (I’m getting excited, hence all the caps!) 

Before the trip or date, you talk about it.  Plan it.  Send each other texts and share ideas about where to go and what to do.  Maybe try the new Mexican restaurant because the tacos sound amazing? (Can you tell that I really love Mexican food?!) Maybe start looking into that trip for wine tasting in Temecula just because it sounds fun?  Research the best places to camp along the coast? Hunt down the best local coffee place?  The point is to have fun and do it–even the planning–together!

Then after the date, you reminisce and talk about all the fun.  The food you tried, inside jokes you shared, new things you learned.  Here’s the best part: the dividends of joy are paid well after the actual trip or dinner date.  Want to keep the joy going?  Have another date already on the books.  Just by knowing something fun is on the horizon is a wonderful way to stay connected especially while you’re both in the trenches of parenthood and all the curveballs life throws your way.  I can’t tell you how excited I get knowing we have something fun already on the calendar–even if that looks like watching Homeland together after the kiddos go to bed on Sunday nights!

Right now is definitely a unique time as we don’t know exactly when we will be able to leave our homes and return to a more normal life that includes date nights and weekends away.  So it is even more important than ever to find joy amongst the uncertainty and monotony.  As I type this, I keep taking little breaks to pour over the internet in search of a new Italian place for our Date Night In this weekend.  I’ve texted the hubs twice already about menu options–his pick was shrimp scampi!  I can’t wait to have an evening to let go of all the craziness of having three kids home 24/7 and just enjoy some time together.

What are some of your favorite places to go? Ways to connect? What’s on your date night or weekend away bucket list? I can’t wait to hear from you!

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