Ok, this is going to be a three part series on healthy marriages that promote healthy kids…obviously this week is about dating your spouse, next we’ll look at why your kids need to see that you physically desire your spouse, and finally we’ll look at how our kids need to see us fight and make up.
But for this week, on to dating. Matt and I decided when my now 17 year old was a baby that we would continue a regular date night even with kids. Back in those days we committed to a weekly date night which more often than not consisted of something like a movie rental or the occasional back yard picnic with the baby monitor in tow. Once we had a second kid, that quickly went to a monthly date night, but by then we could afford a babysitter, Hallelujah! Now with three kids all school aged and all in extra curricular activities, we find that we are hardly ever all at home on the same nights, much less do we have time for dating. It’s divide and conquer people. Partner that with having a kid diagnosed with epilepsy (blog on that coming soon), and our dating life began to crumble and only happen once every few months, at best. We began to feel super disconnected, and at each others throat’s all the time. We didn’t like each other very much, or at all. We were stressed….we were beyond stressed…we were on the verge of postal…so we went and saw a counselor. It was nice for her to identify how stressed I am, but also how not on the same page my husband and I had been. We were passing ships in the night, not even always sleeping in the same bed because of a sick kid. She said what we both knew, but hadn’t made the sacrifice for, we needed TIME…we needed to communicate, to help one another, to process, to get out, to date, to leave all the other stuff at home and be adults…together.
So we recommitted to a weekly date night (for a period of time) while we go through a study together, and then to get back on track with Monthly date nights. And it’s been SUBSTANTIAL!!! Marriage changing. We didn’t realize how much good it had been doing, and how broken everything had been without it. You and your spouse need to date one another! My teenager said the other day, you and dad went from fighting every day to spending every moment with each other…and it’s true.
It’s a strange thing, but the more intentionally romantic time you spend with one another, the more time you want to spend with one another being romantic. And my kids need to see it. Thankfully they only saw about a year long stint of us in a real funk, because they need to see their dad date their mom. Sure it doesn’t have to be weekly or monthly, but it has to happen. I can’t even tell you how many kids I’ve talked to who don’t see their parents date, and don’t even get me started on how mad I am at parents of teenagers who are clueless about dating because they’ve never ever had it modeled for them.
Several things happen when you date your spouse. For you and your partner it is a time to get away and focus on one another, remember why you fell in love in the first place. Because I’ve said it before, you fell in love for some reason, staying in love…that’s a choice…and it takes work. One way you can work on it on a date is by creating opportunities to speak your spouses love languages, and most are no brainers that naturally happen on a date anyway.
For your kids, dating your spouse teaches them how to speak these love languages to their own partner one day. It teaches them how to sacrifice for someone else. It also teaches compromise. Last week we went bowling (totally my husband), this week we’re going to see a movie (me). My son learns how to compliment a woman as he witnesses my husband tell me I look beautiful and thanks me for lining up dinner for the kids (my love language of words of affirmation). He learns to open the door and be a gentleman. My daughter learns how to be treated on a date, how to be spoken to, what to expect. She also learns how to be a helper as I help my husband complete some tasks so he feels he has a night to give up (his love language of acts of service). Mostly though, they learn that a constant and continual growing relationship is important. They learn that it takes intentionality and work, hard work. They learn that they have to make TIME for their significant other one day. And they learn that it’s healthy, and okay to be a romantic, to make it a focus.
As my husband dramatically kissed me goodbye this morning on my way to work my teenager groaned from the living room and Matt said, “you are so blessed to have a daddy that loves your momma so much”, and she is.