Dating is essential to the life and longevity of a marriage. When was the last time you and your spouse went out? I know that prior to marriage most of us are crafting dates (or hoping for them) that are "Wow! experiences" designed to capture our prey (or get captured). Dating does not go out of style in long-standing relationships although the nature of them does change. It seems that dating is still that chemistry inside the institution of marriage where we return to the good manners of being men and women to each other and the values that brought us together in the first place. That's a good place to elaborate... first place. Her, being first place.
Arranging the date for us (for her), arranging child care, budgeting the money, making time to plan it, getting her feedback on where and what. Making her feel first in your life. This is especially important when additional commitments (read: tiny, screaming, crawling, commitments) demand to take first place. We need, both of us, to date, to get back to center. Every marriage seems to define roles in some way. But is there really a celestial or religious committee that has the final authority on dating? Both spouses can be creative in initiating a date or parts of it. Do the unexpected sometimes to add variety and unpredictability to your relationship.
One of the grace-filled things about dating in a committed marriage is how badly you can mess up on a date and be forgiven… and go out on another date… and go home together… and to bed together. Have you dated enough to where you both have had the privilege of messing up and need to hit the retry button? Don’t mistake that for failure. See it as opportunity. To address in ourselves those things that need changing. Got that? In ourselves, not in our spouse. And with our spouse – forgiving and going forward. None of us are perfect.
Date every few or several weeks at least. Dating builds on a lot of things, like vacations together, just the two of you. Jill and I always have a really good time together on our get-a-way without kids vacations, in part, I think, because we go out regularly and love each other’s company. That makes the vacation even better because it is one long, extended date together. Dating also communicates to your children that, ahem, they are not the center of the universe. God and our marriage is. And they are inside that warm and secure nest for a short time. We start off dating in getting to know each other and when the children are grown we are back to that just you and me. This is something we can look forward to.