Four months and nineteen days. That is how long it has been since the last time my husband, Hunter, and I tried going on a date. I say “tried” because even that time was an absolute fail. It was our seventh wedding anniversary and we had made reservations at a new restaurant downtown. We dressed up. I straightened my hair and put on lip-gloss. We dropped our kids off with friends. It was supposed to be great. But then somewhere between the mango salad and the grilled shrimp Hunter broke out into a 103° fever. So back home we went and while Hunter attempted to sleep off his sickness, I spent the evening eating take-out and watching Netflix in bed alone. It was awesome (not).
Dating with three kids and a full time jobs can be tricky. And after years of marriage sometimes we wonder why bother. I mean, we are in this marriage thing for the long haul anyway. We eat dinner together every night at home with our family. We fold laundry together. And my goodness, my husband and I even work together. We see plenty of each other on a daily basis. So why bother trying to go through the hassle of dating?
Marriage isn’t just about living life together; marriage is about living a unified life together.
In Mark, Jesus speaks of marriage and says this: Because of this, a man leaves father and mother, and in marriage he becomes one flesh with a woman- no longer two individuals, but forming a new unity. (Mark 10: 7-8, The Message)
I love that. A new unity. It sounds so beautiful, doesn’t it? But take a look at any history book and you will easily notice that unity takes work, sacrifice, and time. Being unified isn’t something you just wake up and decide one day and then voila, peace and happiness forever! If you want to be unified with your spouse, you are going to need to put in the work.
And that is where dating comes in.
Dating your spouse, despite the chaos life can often bring, is vital. Trust me, I have been months overdue on a date night and my marriage has easily been feeling the tension. We have begun noticing each other’s faults more often, our fuses have gotten shorter, and romance…what is that again? In other words, we haven’t been unified as Christ has called us to be.
A while back my husband and I made a deal. He is a professional photographer and has been in need of an updated website for quite some time. Now I’m not a web designer by any means, but I like to think I have a good eye when it comes to these things. So I put an offer down on the table. I would make him a new website and in return he would take me on a romantic date.
We shook hands. It was a deal.
With the website finally finished, Hunter took me out on a date last night. Once again we dressed up. I straightened my hair. And after ten minutes of digging through the bottoms of all my purses I finally found that old lip-gloss from last summer. After dropping our kids off with friends we went to a quiet restaurant overlooking the ocean.
Although the food wasn’t spectacular, the time we spent together was priceless. At one point I found myself flirting and giggling with him like I used to back in college. Knowing words of affirmation is my most valued love language, my husband spent the car ride home sharing all the reasons he loves me. I cried. He held my hand. And we were unified once again.
No matter what your circumstances, it is easy to get caught up in the busyness of the day to day. If you don’t work at it, it is easy to become merely two individuals who live together rather than two people living together committed to forming a new unity as Jesus commanded. And this is why dating is so important long after you say, I do. Dating gives you time to put your individual lives aside and focus on the oneness that is foundational to any successful marriage. So if you are married, kids or no kids, job or no job, whatever, let me encourage you to get all pretty and go out on a date. Hold hands, flirt, speak words of affirmation, and give your undivided attention to the one you spend your life with. I promise you won’t regret it.