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?
Jen, my hubby and I have been married just two years. We have no kids but we’ve decided to be intentional about us spending time together and making special memories NOW before the kids come along. We are going to start trying to get pregnant next year, and I plan on staying home once a baby comes along, so we’re using this time of two salaries and a bit more free time to plan fun and unique dates. Tonight we’re taking our very first tango lesson!!! I am so excited. A few weeks ago for the last date night I planned, we took a late night lantern tour of some of our local caves and it was SO much fun. Date nights coming up include a trip to the shooting range, a morning kayak rental for two, comedy night at a local club, and a picnic at our local park.
@Dana, Dana –
That is amazing!! Good for you with prioritizing that intentional time now. It will be habit by the time the baby comes and you will still want to try and find creative things even once you have a little one.
A TANGO LESSON?? YOU GO, GIRL! That is SO fun!! And I am reading your list and realize I totally need to add this to my follow up post I am doing on date night ideas. Can I include you? Were any of your lessons or tours frugal things, like where you had a coupon or something, so I can note that as well?
Of course, a picnic is always frugal. 😉
@Jen, yes ma’am I am one frugal woman! We are in debt pay-off mode (one student loan left, baby! whoop whoop!) so we definitely try to find ways to do fun things on the cheap. A lot of the more unique excursions are groupon/livingsocial scores. The tango lessons are $15 each, but if we eat dinner at home, the cost of this date night is totally worth it to us. (PS- it was my husband’s idea to take dance lessons. I got a winner!)
I made a board on pinterest called “Making Date Night Awesome” and I’ve stockpiled lots of great ideas. I have a lot that are “theme night” ideas you can do at home, like Mexican Fiesta Night, where you could make Mexican food, watch YouTube videos of salsa dancing techniques together, and watch a movie set in Mexico. Something like that could be super cheap (or free!) and create a lot of great memories and fun laughs 🙂
@Dana, Last thing and I’ll shut my mouth 🙂
Once I started trying to collect ideas for date night ideas in my area, I realized how much there is to do in most cities! We live in Chattanooga and just checking out the city’s website led to a calendar of events I never would have known of otherwise. I didn’t realize we could make our own blown-glass Christmas ornament together, see a local production of “The Neverending Story”, take a FREE bicycle tour of the city, visit a life-sized replica of the tabernacle of Moses, etc. I encourage the ladies to just do some research and they’ll see there is ALWAYS something you can do locally that will make for a very special date night.
Thanks so much for this post. My husband and I need to get better about date nights. We have them sporadically (which is better than never). We’ll be married 25 years in January. Wonder if I could remember some of our date nights over the years. That might make for some fun conversation on a date night!
I loved your article! My husband and I have been married 13yrs come this September (been together for 16yrs) and have 5 children. Between the children and our very demanding career choices (we both work EMS and are both volunteer firefighters, with both of our teens now being junior members at the fire dept), it always seems we are passing each other during shift changes, in between the kid’s many sports practices/games, or he’s awake & I’m exhausted or vise-versa. We “try” to steal a few precious minutes everyday and “try” to have date “days” each week (days are easier because the kids are in school, so less babysitting required), but now it’s Summer…the kids are out of school, both our jobs have increased because of Summer related emergencies & fires, and it just gets hard at times to find that alone time.
When we do get a day off, together, some of the cheaper things around here we have found to do is: spend a few hours at the local gun range together perfecting our shooting skills, splurge on a lunch of nothing but ice cream (it’s actually soft serve yogurt & any topping you can imagine, like a buffet of toppings), working in the yard (cutting grass, planting new trees & flowers, fixing/remodeling things), visiting local flea markets & produce stands (hand in hand finding small cheap treasures), when we have the gas & time just simply riding in his truck, windows down, our favorite tunes on, going nowhere, sometimes it’s as simple as taking 5 mins sitting on the back deck together looking at the stars after the kids have went to bed…we live on a very tight budget (EMS workers are one of the lowest paid fields there is, but we also don’t do it for the money) & have 5 children, if we can make it happen, anyone can. It’s not about the money, it’s about spending time together. We do “try” to splurge on a weekend away atleast twice a year, normally in February and again for our anniversary in September, although through the years there have been plenty of times we couldn’t afford either or didn’t have a babysitter. But even when we can’t get “time” together we still show our love in the little things….the always saying I love you when leaving the house or hanging up the phone, the never leaving the house or entering the house without a kiss (it’s the first thing we do when we get home, no matter how busy we are or what’s waiting for us to get to), the “I hope you’re having a good day, I miss you” texts out of the blue when we’re apart, the leaving love notes on the other’s steering wheel, the occasionally buying the other’s favorite snack or candy & leaving it with their keys, the dancing in the kitchen while cooking supper & the kids rolling their eyes (or joining in at times), the love pats when passing each other in a hurry in the house, the choosing to make all major decisions together (good & bad, financial or otherwise), the falling asleep to the sweet melody of his snoring & his death grip arm around me every night we’re both home together and him knowing there’s no place I’d rather be. We’ve had our problems like any relationship has, but we’ve come out stronger and mor ein love than ever before, because we chose to never go to bed mad (which has included a few all night fights in our younger days) and to face everything “together” hand in hand, even if it means we’re facing the world and we only have each other.
Congrats on 19 years, Jen. This just reminds me of how o.l.d. I am compared to most of the bloggers I read. Hubs and I just celebrated 36 years! Your age isn’t more than that probably! Hope your anniversary was great.
@Janet, Janet – CONGRATS!! HOw wonderful!!I sure hope that I will get 36 years with my honey.
Thanks for thinking it’s not, but my age is older than that. haha 😉
Jen – that is such a great reminder to take the time now to cultivate your relationship with your spouse. My husband was working out of town for almost 5 months, and I almost felt like we had a better relationship when he was away, because we took the time for prolonged phone conversations each night (and multiple times during the day). I want to make sure that I take the time to really talk to him now that he’s home again – and not just pass each other in the hustle and bustle.
My parents used to so something similar to you – as soon as my dad got home from work, my mom had coffee and a cookie waiting for him, and they would sit together in the living room and eat and drink and talk to each other. You just knew that was their time.
Jen…this is so well done, and such an important topic! We all get so busy in the day to day and forget about the importance of keeping the foundation of our marriages strong. I love your idea of a late night picnic … such a fun and simple way to re-connect, and it will remind me of the things that we used to do pre-kids 😉 Thanks so much for sharing!!
We need to get back on track with date night, too! Thanks for the reminder! In my opinion, the cheap dates (going for a walk/hike, picnic, etc) are some of the best memory makers. 🙂
Congratulations! My husband and I have been married for 23 years last January. We just fit in time whenever we can. He is a farmer, and I am a part time farmer and stay at home parent, so when he has to haul equipment or run farm errands, I go along. Mom used to ride along with Dad sometimes during the day, and I used to ride along with my father after school, to the lumberyard, or to change sprinkler pipe or whatever. It’s not a date exactly, but sometimes we do stop for lunch. . . And my girls go run errands or change sprinklers with their dad now, hopefully beginning to understand that beautiful moments don’t need anything special, besides a special person to share them with.
We live close to San Francisco, so we get away there from time to time as a couple, and really enjoy the museums and restaurants. Sometimes we just stroll along by the marina or in Union Square and enjoy the people watching, or go hiking in Muir Woods. Thank goodness for Priceline, which makes accommodations affordable there!
In the end, it’s not about making spectacular dates, it’s about making regular days special. Because regular life at its best is what is really best (wait, did that make any sense??).
I love your spontaneous creativity, Jen! What a precious and intentional way to focus on your marriage. Love all these ideas. I love drives or walks with my husband and just talking! After 14 years together (this month) he is the one I want to walk with most! 🙂
I would call our date nights silly. We turn off the computers and all the phones, walk to the grocery store (about 3 blocks away) for a frozen pizza and a rental movie. We turn off all the lights and jut relax on sofa!
THANK YOU for this post! I read a post yesterday that came from the other end of the spectrum, basically chiding parents for EVER taking date night time to “get away from their children.” I agree with you so much that you need to constantly work on your marriage. Who wants to end up with just a roommate when the kids leave the nest? My husband and I also do couch dates. We brew a big pot of decaf coffee, bring a big bowl of candy down to the den and watch a movie or an episode of Criminal Minds. (we are not senior citizens, for the record. Ahem.) We also do a lot of lunch dates. Our son is in preschool, so mid-day dates work well for us. It’s always so much fun to reconnect with one another without everyday distractions.