24 Jan FANNING THE FLAME
We encourage all the couples we see in counseling to begin to establish a consistent “date night.”
As helpers, we spend a lot of time with couples in our office with the tension so thick you could cut it with a knife. They sit on opposite couches pointing fingers at each other throwing out bitter accusations.
What happened? The marriage probably didn’t start this way! In fact, if we looked at their wedding pictures, they probably were smiling and at least acted like marriage was a good thing!!
But most people in our society have bought the cultural belief that romantic love is something that “happens” to us, rather than something that we have responsibility to nurture. They believe that they either have the “love cloud” over the relationship or that it has moved on.
Reality is that love is the result of our actions. In courtship, we spend a lot of time and energy doing positive things for our partner. This is the “I’ll climb the highest mountain and swim the deepest ocean phase.” Then after marriage, when reality of life hits, positive actions drop off and the resulting positive feelings begin to diminish.
The cycle spirals downward; the loving actions decrease, and therefore the positive feelings decrease which decreases the actions and therefore decreases the feelings, until one day one or both of them make the statement, “I’ve fallen out of love!” We encourage couples that they can get positive feelings back in their relationship if they can begin to do positive actions.
One of the ways to do that is to begin to spend quality time alone together. We encourage all the couples we see in counseling to begin to establish a consistent “date night.”
For couples that are really struggling, sometimes the last thing in the world they want to do is to spend time alone together. But we have found it so beneficial that it is worth enduring some discomfort for the long-term results. The following guidelines help the “date nights” be more successful:
- The purpose of this time is for activities that are fun and enjoyable only. No budget discussions, problems with kids, or resolving other conflicts.
- This time must be a priority that happens each week and is not bumped by other activities.
- Done at the same time each week. To insure that it is not forgotten, it’s helpful to pick a time where both can plan for it each week. Because of crazy schedules, it may not be possible for a traditional Friday or Saturday night.
- Alternate deciding what you are going to do. We recommend you ask your mate for a “top ten list of date night ideas,” so when it is your turn you will hit the target by having some ideas you know will bless them.
- This time is just for the two of you, not other couples or children. Happy secure kids come from families with happy secure marriages.
- Pick an amount to spend that you can afford each week, even if it’s only $5.00. This insures money is never the reason you don’t have your date night.
By Brent and Janis Sharp