My husband and I just celebrated our nineteenth anniversary.

Where the time has flown, I am still guessing, but considering that a few gray hairs have miserably popped up, this time is tested and true. The cliché says, “I love him more now than on our wedding day,” and I understand that sentiment.

It’s a different kind of love than my nervous stomach, butterfly kind of love that occurred on our honeymoon. This love has seen the test of time. It’s one that has grown steadier as days turned to years. It’s one that has celebrated birth and mourned loss, one that has seen successes, but many more failures. One that has weathered difficult storms, storms that whirled for long periods, yet stayed true.

It’s a love of commitment and choice
, mixed in with those wonderful moments when my stomach still does flip flops as he approaches.

But let’s be honest. Marriage is really hard work.

It’s rarely the story book rendition of a picture perfect fairytale ending wrapped up in a pretty red bow. There’s pain involved, and it can be exhausting. In fact, at times, some may wonder where the excitement of old has gone, since their marriage has turned boring. Even knowing all of that, it’s a commitment so worth fighting for every day.

With that commitment, comes choice.

Any marriage counselor’s recommendation for couples would be to “date your mate.” Yes, having someone tell you that you need to schedule regular date nights is easier said than implemented when you have little ones under foot, but spending that intentionally carved out alone time on a regular basis is key to weathering storms in a marriage.

I’m just saying up front, my husband and I have not been consistent about this, and we’ve seen so many friends’ marriages ending in divorce because they “just don’t love each other anymore.” We know our time together must be prioritized, and we have committed to putting alone time together on the calendar.

That time needs to be set, and those hours guarded or everything else in “life” pops in to steal away best intentions.

We’ve learned that setting date nights doesn’t have to be about spending a lot of money; it’s about just sharing life together which doesn’t revolve around work and the kids.

When our children were little, my husband and I shared “couch time” together. My hubby came home from the office, hugged and kissed the kids, and then mommy and daddy stole a few minutes for “Couch time.”.  It was our “time out.”  Yes, special time when the little ones knew we were prioritizing moments to catch up. We realized then how important it was to snatch alone time to reconnect, and model that for our children. Since life gets so busy, it’s too easy to start living as roommates, without investing in each other’s lives.

Whether you’ve been married one year, five or nineteen, fanning the flame of one’s marriage begins with being purposeful, and that time alone sets the tone.  For most of our married lives, my husband and I allotted ourselves a very minimal entertainment budget, so I became a master of spontaneous creativity.

Whether it was setting up a late night picnic on our family room floor or splitting a huge plate of nachos as our “fine dining experience,” those date nights reminded me of why I married my sweet man. It changed my mentality of only communicating about my “honey-do lists” and problems with the kids to “Wow, he’s so much fun. I had forgotten just how much.”

We could enjoy strolling along in the mall just people watching or spending our 5th anniversary at a $1 budget movie (true story), “nearly” as much as a fancy weekend away. Yes, I mention “nearly” because again, it’s a choice to celebrate and enjoy each other with whatever financial circumstances allow. Swapping baby-sitting services with friends you trust is always a great option.

This month, I am focusing on small, manageable everyday resolutions.  Earlier in the month, I mentioned my goal of spending time in my sons’ Man Cave. The same morning that I shared that resolution, I crawled up in my high school son’s bunk bed to wake him. Yes, I really did. His initial reaction groaned, “What in the world, Mom,” followed by ten minutes of precious time together.  Grab the moments when you can.

Since I’ve been convicted of prioritizing time with my honey, my P&G everyday resolution for this week is to schedule a date night – nothing fancy.  I’m actually going to use a discounted meal coupon, which I purchased months ago, dress up with some of my sexier, “Just for my husband” frugal fashion finds, don some great high heels, choose a 30 Ways, 30 Days hair style, and practice that COVERGIRL®  smokey eye look that I love so much.

Yes, I am going to put some pizzazz back in our marriage.  While I’m at it, I’m grabbing my calendar and penciling in TWO date nights on the books because I know this first one will be worth it.

No more excuses for this Queen of Best Intentions.

I am going to fight for that time together, and I invite you to join me in making a small, everyday change to your life to better your life in progress, whether that be scheduling a weekly date night or doing something else to add inspiration to your daily routine.

Are you excited yet about achieving manageable goals to add more inspiration to your everyday?

I can’t wait to hear what you’re doing to better your life in progress!

Do you have some fun date night ideas?