Our close friends might tell you that Michelle and I are “foodies”… that we like good food and are willing to pay a little extra to get the better cut. The truth is, we just like food, but what we like even more is the experience of sharing a meal. When we find ourselves around a table with others – be it friends, family, kids, and even strangers – we grow closer to these people. It’s taking time to be present for one another and share two very basic human needs: food and community.
This also goes for one-on-one meals. When I’m sitting across from my wife at one of our favorite places to eat, or maybe a new place we’ve never been, we bond. We talk to each other. We ask questions we don’t think of when our girls are in earshot. We share dreams, vision, and aspirations.
We look at each other.
At this time in our lives, days are long. I work 9 to 5 as a graphic designer, staring at a computer monitor over 40 hours per week. Michelle is tending to the needs of three little girls who all require her focus and attention non-stop. Even when I get home, we’re busy… playing with the girls, making dinner, and cleaning up. When we’re unwinding from the day, it’s spent in front of the TV or in separate rooms as she puts her feet up with a magazine and I work on a side project. The point being, there is a very realistic danger of connecting on only a surface level unless we’re purposeful about it. “How was your day?” is a good start, but these aren’t the kind of questions we ask when we’re out on a date.
When we’re sitting across from each other, and our focus isn’t being split between parenting, chores, bills, work, and daily drama, we connect and our relationship benefits. I get to hear what Michelle’s been thinking about. The kind of stuff not worn on her sleeve but makes up the person she really is.
Now, here’s the part I find curious… it’s not all deep, soul-searching type conversations. I don’t want to paint a false picture of what our dates look like. Honestly, we dote on our girls more than we talk about anything else. Or we play a game where we’ll pick another couple in the room and we’ll describe their life outside this setting (“he’s a circus clown off the clock and she’s on her first blind date in 7 years” type of thing). And even though I’m not always prodding around for the core of who Michelle is, I still feel a connection there that isn’t mundane.
If soul-bonding type connections are going to be made, they aren’t going to be made in the humdrum of the daily autopilot. You HAVE to be purposeful about it. THAT is why I take my wife out on dates. To get her away… to connect with her… to see her and to be seen by her.
Justin Buzzard, author of Date Your Wife, says that if we, as men, want our marriages to be more than the lifeless relationships we’re surrounded by, it starts with us! He writes:
You and I and the men we know want something more. Perhaps you’ve settled for a marriage that looks like most other marriages. Perhaps you now look like most other husbands — ordinary, nice, confused. But what you really want is a marriage that feels like a mission, a marriage that’s moving forward toward something exciting, mysterious, and grand. Kind of like the way dating felt.
Does this resonate with you? So, what does it take? It’s going to start with you taking charge. Call your wife and ask her out. Make all of the arrangements — including babysitting. Plan to be somewhere that will allow you to get close and talk, or walk and hold hands. Ask her questions and really listen.
Now, if you read Michelle’s recent post about how most conversations among married couples begin, you know that women have a much higher words-per-day average than men. We aren’t known for being the best conversationalists. If you need some help getting a meaningful conversation going on your next date, we’re here for you.
5 Questions To Get Your Next Date Going
Michelle and I go out once or twice a month. This works for us, and you need to find what works for you. We’ve found that trading babysitting nights with another family helps not only offset the cost of childcare but gives us an opportunity to see our good friends get a date night in for themselves, too. For the frugal-minded reading this, see this as an investment in your marriage. Trust me, $50 for a night out once a month is a lot cheaper and more fun than a hotel bill due to a separation or a marriage counselor to avoid divorce. There’s nothing wrong with choosing a creative, cheap date and skipping the most expensive restaurant in town, either. Dating my wife, treating her like I did when she was my girlfriend, is part of how we #staymarried.
The #staymarried blog was created to offer hope, stories, and resources for couples who want to stay married.
Thank you for reading, sharing, and being a part of this #staymarried community!
P.S. I designed the questions in this post so that you can print them and put them in your wallet. Just click on the image & print from your browser.