We all know the importance of spending intentional time with our spouses/significant others. And we’ve all heard that weekly/monthly/scheduled date nights are a staple of healthy marriages. But that is so. much. pressure.
Let me admit to something — my husband and I don’t have a weekly date night. It’s not in my calendar, we haven’t carved out time every week that stands alone, and we don’t spend extraneous amounts of time planning and preparing for time together. In fact, sometimes we go a month or more without “going out” on a pre-planned, orchestrated date night. That’s just the season we are in right now, and the sooner I learned to accept that (and lower my expectations) the better the time we do find together is. And you know what – I still love my husband. He still loves me! And we still find ourselves being intentional about time together. It just looks much different from the cookie cutter “weekly date night”.
I’m not saying that a weekly date night is a bad idea, or that planning a date night is something to avoid! What I am saying is no pressure. Do what works for you, and for the season you are in. Be intentional about spending (quality) time with your spouse, but don’t add additional stress to your marriage trying to create what is talked up to be an “essential” to a healthy marriage – a weekly, scheduled, perfectly planned date night is not necessary. That being said, the things that are necessary (communication, emotional closeness, quality time, etc) do come much easier when you step outside the daily grind. There are times when my husband and I will plan something intentionally – dinner and a movie, an overnight trip away, bowling and ice cream, window shopping (we LOVE this!). But it’s not practical financially or time-wise for us to do that every week…or even every month!
We are in a busy season right now. And by busy I mean we are rarely home at the same time before 9:00pm, weekends are for catching up from the past week and getting ahead for the next and seminary papers, and music lessons, full-time jobs, and hobbies fill our weekdays. And we don’t even have kids yet! I’ve heard it only gets busier from here… So, rather than planning a consistent date night every week that will get interrupted by our ever-changing schedules (resulting in an upset wife who had preconceived expectations) we just find time. We make time. In the seemingly mundane, we are always looking for ways to invest quality time in each other. The trick here is quality time. There are several ways to accomplish that kind of time, but I really think it all boils down to being intentional!
- Exercise – not only is this an important part of any healthy lifestyle, it’s something you and your spouse can enjoy together! Exercising can fill any small pocket of time – do a YouTube video together, go for a walk or bike ride, or purchase some free weights and small equipment and get going in your home gym! This can be as time-consuming and expensive as you do/don’t want it. Be creative! Frisbee, basketball, lawn games…you get my drift. Just MOVE together! For 5 minutes. For the entire day. After dinner before it gets dark. I love Fitness Blender – here is a couples video that is a lot of fun! https://youtu.be/tD-4Vm0AY28
- Pick one 30 minute show to watch together – we LOVE Last Man Standing. So we set it to DVR, and on those nights when we both have had long days and it’s 9pm before we walk through the front door, we have dinner in front of the TV (gasp!). Don’t make a habit out of it, but once a week it sure is nice to just sit down together and laugh. If you don’t have cable, find a funny show on DVD or netflix – or even a comedian on YouTube!
- Play a card game or board game together – this one doesn’t even have to be planned and depending on what game you pick, can take as little time as you want!
- Grab coffee together – Sundays usually start pretty early for us because of band practice and serving at church. But about once a month we are both “off” in the morning and have a little extra time. Since we are already used to getting up and getting around, sometimes we will skip coffee at home and stop by a coffee shop on our way. Don’t go through the drive through! Spend 20 minutes inside, at a table, having a conversation! On the mornings we feel lazy, we make fancy coffee at home (hello french press and milk frother!) and sit out on our porch together.
- Impromptu camping trip – some weekends are just too crazy to merit packing up and heading out to camp. Getting away is fun, but sometimes there just isn’t enough time or energy to make a full weekend out of it. Set up a tent in your backyard, grill some good food, build a fire, whatever you would normally do at a campsite. Then, when 10:00pm hits, pack up and call it a night.
- Cook a meal together – this one doesn’t need much explanation. Pasta is quick. A five course meal is not. Find what works for you. Turn on some music and have good conversation while you’re chopping/stirring/washing etc.
- Work together – my husband is busy, busy, busy on the weekends working on seminary. So, while I’m paying bills/organizing files/planning meals/checking emails I do it in the same room as him. Some of our best conversations have been sparked in this time.
- Make use of the time you have together in the car – This weekend I’ll be posting a set of conversation cards you can print off and use if you have a hard time coming up with things to talk about (or if you just want to change things up a bit!) It seems silly, but isn’t it even sillier to waste time just sitting in silence?! Dream together. Ask specific, intentional questions. Listen to your favorite songs and sing along. The possibilities are endless, but whatever you do make it intentional! One of the biggest blessings God has sent our way recently is moving to a church and community group that requires us to drive 20 minutes on Sunday and 35-40 minutes each way during the weeks. In the car is another place some of our best, most insightful conversation happens.
- Fold laundry together – sounds mundane. Sounds boring. And I KNOW you are laughing at me right now! But its mindless work that is relatively quiet. My husband is great about helping me with this. I take care of most of the house stuff while he is busy with work/seminary. But when our dryer plays the “clothes are dry” song, he stops what he is doing and helps me fold the load.
- Pray together – over dinner. In the morning. Before bed. In the car. On an actual “date night”. Just find 5 or 10 minutes in your day and pray together – out loud – for each other, for your marriage, or for whatever is on your heart.
Do you have any other ideas? What do you and your spouse do to try to make the most out of any small moments you have?
Need some other ideas to get intentional in your time together? Check out my post “20 Intentional Conversation Starter” for some questions to spark intentional conversation together!