If you are married, do you remember the first couple of weeks and months that you were dating your spouse? You couldn’t get enough of them. You went out of your way to see them. You stayed up late talking to them. You argued about who was going to hang up first (was that just Trisha and me?). Your relationship was growing and deepening with each moment that you spent together. You left work early to see her. You cancelled plans with your friends to spend the evening with him. You couldn’t get enough time together.
Then you got married. Your career started. You bought a house. You had some kids. Your priorities changed. Your schedule changed. It wasn’t that your desire to spend time with your spouse left, it just fell further down the list of your priorities.
I want to share with you what I believe to be the secret to, not just staying married, but staying happily married. It isn’t rocket science but is something that EVERY couple I know struggles with.
Spend time together.
It was time that allowed you to fall in love in the first place. Now it is a lack of time that keeps you stagnant and from growing deeper in your marriage relationship. There are other things that make up a successful marriage…but none of them work without time. Time is the secret ingredient. Time is where you have to start.
Trish and I struggle with this just like every couple. We have seasons of travel; seasons of kids in different sports; seasons of lots of speaking engagements with RefineUs; seasons of intensity with my job at Cross Point; seasons of writing; seasons of stress. The first thing to go when we hit a high demand season is time with one another. For some reason, it is the easiest thing to sacrifice.
Here are two types of time you need to spend with your spouse. Each of these two times should be monthly.
1. Business meetings.
You and your spouse are running a mini-business. You have income; you have expenses; you have deadlines; if you have kids, you have people you are responsible for and that report to you. You have schedules to make and budgets to think through.
Once a month, you need to set aside time with your spouse (Trish and I usually do this at Starbucks) and go over business. Talk bills; talk schedules; talk calendars; talk kid’s school plays and recitals and games; plan for the next few months and look ahead. This will help keep you on the same page even when life gets intense.
2. Date nights.
Date nights are essential to the couple that want to have a great marriage. What allowed you fall in love with your spouse? Dates. What put spice and romance into your relationship with your spouse? Dates. What was the first thing to go when life got busy? Dates. Why do we think we can have a great marriage and compromise time with our spouse?
Once a month go out on a date. We usually go out to dinner. I would say half of our date nights are casual dates. We usually go to Chili’s or to our favorite Mexican Restaurant. Then the other half of our date nights we try to make romantic. I buy flowers. Trish dresses up. We make reservations. We do dinner then go for a walk somewhere romantic.
Dates aren’t for talking business. Talk dreams; talk desires; ask questions; talk insecurities; talk fears; talk hopes; be a good listener; talk about your future…individually, as a couple, as a family. Date your spouse, and I guarantee your relationship will grow deeper.