When I began writing this post, I did a quick google search–“dating after marriage.” I chose the wrong phrasing, apparently, because the first three articles that popped up were titled: “Advice For Dating After Divorce,” “Dating After Divorce,” and “8 Things You Need To Know About Dating After Divorce.”
WELL. That was certainly not what I was looking for.
After dismissing the mistake and revising my wording a little bit (let’s try… dating after.. no.. dating your spouse. Yes, that’s what I meant) the irony of the situation hit me and completely changed my opening illustration for this article. WHY is it that “dating after marriage” is synonymous with.. “divorce”? I’d only meant to say “dating after ‘I do'”, not post marriage altogether.
Perhaps herein lies the problem with there being so many instances of “dating after marriage” these days–so many couples stop dating after “I do.”
Why Do We Stop Dating After “I Do”?
I think the answer is fairly simple. Life gets busy. And after a short time being married, we start to subconsciously believe that there isn’t anything new to learn about our spouses. Forgetting all the other complications that can ail a marriage, those two things alone, when combined, can create a marital atmosphere where “dating” for the sake of quality time together becomes a time-consuming luxury hung on the bottom rung of our priority ladder. We don’t make time for dating anymore because, well, we’re already married and life goes on.
Why Dating Post Ceremony Is Crucial
Here’s how dating after 3.5 years of marriage has gone for me:
“You wanna watch another episode?”
“Sure, why not.”
*Relying heavily on televised dialogue & thick fictional plots to avoid actual relational interaction ensues*
Sound familiar? It’s not that we actively avoid each other or want for conversations that aren’t strictly the transferral of information. But as married couples, we slide comfortably into a position of no longer trying to challenge each other. Marriage, like anything else in life, tends toward chaos if the orderly nature of forward motion isn’t maintained. We’ve got to actively pursue and be challenged by one another to prevent the decay of once irresistible bonds.
But who can blame us for backsliding? Marriage is hard work, and we’re tired. It’s almost laughable trying to concoct a date night at my house. On top of being tired from housekeeping and working hard all day AND having to orchestrate child care, my husband and I are both introverts. Therefore, on the rare occasion that ONE of us is in a get-out-and-go mood, the other one isn’t; the planets must align!! So, I’ve taken to entertaining even the smallest ideas and calling them date night: “Hey, babe, let’s take a walk!” or “You wanna go to Target and buy some pants together?”
Don’t laugh. You know this is totally you. Or perhaps you take your date nights a little more seriously like my parents do and take periodic trips to your local home improvement store. Hey, whatever constitutes quality time!
Suffice it to say very few of us have reached that Pinterest level perfect date night routine. (You know what I’m talking about; all those enticing date ideas on Pinterest that only newly weds with no kids and no pets have time for–“Oh, you got to go on a winter wonderland themed date night scavenger hunt together!?” Oh, go fall in a hole, you pretentious alpha daters.)
What is my point here? My point is even if dating your spouse is tough to squeeze in, even if you’re tired or think you’ve learned all there is to know about them, make time. Make time for more than being roommates or business partners. It doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or even without the kids. Make time for dating your spouse “after ‘I do'” so you don’t find yourself “dating after marriage.”
Realistic Ideas For Quality Time With Your Spouse
Spend time in the Word together. Dating your spouse doesn’t mean you have to go out or spend money. Essentially, in a dating relationship, all we are doing is learning about and delighting in the company of one another. What better way to learn and delight than to study the Word together? Read a book together and discuss it, choose scripture to memorize together, or do what me and my husband do and debate the spiritual implications of culture and politics!
Take a walk. If the weather is nice (or if you have the grit for the cold) just take a walk. Strap your youngsters in the stroller and go! Taking a walk always keeps my 10-month-old content long enough for me to have a meaningful conversation with my husband.
Go shopping together. No, I wasn’t kidding about shopping for pants together at Target. I can’t tell you how many times errands have been the surrogate for our date nights. But again, we can usually strap Junior in the stroller and he’s happy for a while.
Power down. We cute cable a while back and it has been the best thing ever for not only my productivity, but for our marriage! We do still indulge in Netflix and Amazon shows on the regular, but we almost never turn the TV on without it being intentional. Consider whether technology, be it TV, phones, or computers, is putting a damper on your quality time together. If so, unplug for a while and you will absolutely find ample room for dating.
Lend a hand. If you truly are too busy to fit a “date night” in during this season of your life, learn to lend a hand as a way of spending time together. In our home, sometimes this means my husband helps me with cooking dinner, or I might help him clean out the car. Even if you can’t spend a lot of the time getting into deep conversation, just doing things together is a morale booster for your marriage.
Find freebies. I like to occasionally hunt down free events going on around town. Just a couple weeks ago, we attended a free reenactment event. Again, just doing things together, especially things out of your routine, can be fun!
Listen. Every night when we get tucked in, my husband and I ask each other two questions: “What was your high today?” and “What was your low today?” It’s not a date and it’s not a lengthy conversation, but it’s a chance to listen and and to care. Our highs are a way we can share gratitude together; and our lows are (usually) a way we can laugh together.