Fast forward 5, 10, 15 or 50 years later...
Are you still dating? In love? Getting to know each other better?
If not, perhaps it's time to re-evaluate and put in more of the work that marriage requires. Marriage and staying in love takes work--100% effort by both spouses, husband and wife. Just like a garden, you can't water it and take care of it the first couple of weeks of summer and then just let it fend for itself the next few months. It will die. Likewise, marriages must have the nourishment and the work required to be fruitful.
Since we believe that families are eternal, cultivating a healthy marriage, as well as happy family relationships, is paramount for my husband and me. Not only that, but the strength of families (or the lack thereof) directly correlates to the strength of our society. Our example of a happy marriage will have a significant influence on our children--what they will observe and later seek for their own marriages. It is our responsibility to teach our kids how to work at a marriage. Our attitudes will become theirs. If we show them that marriage is important, they will likewise cherish their own.
The importance of marriage brings me to the importance of having date night. Couples need time to reconnect--spiritually, emotionally, and physically--and some scheduled time is often necessary to make that happen. Here are some ideas to get it going in your home:
- Pick a night of the week that works best, for us, that day happens to be Friday. Be consistent and make it happen. It can be for an hour or five hours or over night; again, whatever works for you.
- Get a babysitter for the kids. Often you may be able to find family that can watch your children for free. We usually get a babysitter that we know from church. Negotiate how much to pay per kid per hour. I have a few older kids that can really help out a lot, but are not quite ready to babysit consistently. We average paying about $5 per hour, and round up a bit. Babysitter costs vary by demographics. I have also found that most 12-14 year old girls are the best babysitters.
- Double date. Encourage friends to come along and enrich their marriage too.
- If it doesn't work (financially or otherwise) to go out, put the kids in bed and play a game, watch a movie, have dessert or get some take-out from a restaurant and have a date in your own home.
- You can be simple or elaborate with your date nights. We often just go get dinner and dessert, but sometimes go to a movie or go grocery shopping together. We also try to go to the temple together about once a month--to remember covenants, or promises, we made that will help us ensure our family can be together forever, not just until we leave this life.
- Spend time talking, writing love notes, or just being tender with each other.
- Also, http://www.thedatingdivas.com/ have a myriad of great ideas that are cheap, free, easy, fun and can fit into anyone's lifestyle. This is a great resource to help get you started or feed you new ideas to strengthen your marriage and relationship with your spouse.