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Why It's Important To Keep Dating Your Spouse
The first time I met my husband, I thought he was handsome and funny. He seemed to think I was cute. And soon after that night we started dating.
We had dinners out, went to concerts, and sometimes just had quiet nights hanging out at his condo. The thing all those times had in common was how much we liked being together and learning about each other.
Flash forward a few years, and there's a house, two kids and two cats. My husband is teaching in a school system about a half hour away, and I'm trying to keep the home fires burning without burning out myself! We saw each other, but I felt like there was a wall between us.
I was worried for a while that we were in trouble, that we had problems in our marriage that might just get worse. Finally, in a panic, I blurted out my fears to my husband. Turns out, he'd noticed that same wall, and didn't like it any better than I did.
There was only one problem in our marriage - we missed each other. And for many couples, that happens all too easily.
Life is more complicated and busy than ever. Our days are more full. Yet, the need for couples to spend time together is real and can't be ignored. So how can any couple meet the real need for togetherness on a regular basis?
The answer is simple but challenging: They need to start dating again!
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Dating Rekindles Interest
One of the biggest benefits I've seen in my marriage since getting back into dating is that we both are more genuinely interested in hearing each other's opinions and thoughts. And I really enjoy discovering new things about my hubby.
It's hard to believe that there's anything more to learn about our spouses, especially if you've been married for a while. That's what I thought for a long time, and it led to falling into a sort of mental rut.
Then I decided to change my approach to our conversations. I started thinking about how I talked to my husband. Was I taking time to find out what was on his mind or how his day had gone? How often did I ask him questions, and was I listening to his answers?
It was a little awkward at first. And I have to admit I wanted him to pursue me, too. But when he started to understand what I was trying to do, he was flattered, and has opened up much more of himself. I've heard him tell childhood memories, and his daily struggles and victories now. And each thing is like a new little piece of a wonderful puzzle.
Quiet times together, like walks or sipping tea in the backyard, provide great opportunities for talking. But you can learn about your mate whatever you're doing, just by observing and appreciating. And don't be afraid to share some of yourself along the way.
Dating Rekindles Romance
There's nothing quite like the heady feeling of romance during dates. For years after I married my husband, I recalled those times, longing to recapture that sense.
It was a turning point when I accepted that we couldn't go back to the past, but that we could generate some new sparks between us. Trying to duplicate old dates was unrealistic with our new lifestyle (kids, cats, etc).
So we looked for ways to fit romance in that worked for us. One of our favorites was making a late dinner after the kids were put to bed. We'd take turns making the meal, and it became a fun contest to surprise each other with yummy dishes and pretty decorations. By the time we sat down we'd be in a more romantic mood.
Now we're able to go out more. But there are still nights we settle in to listen to a favorite CD and sip some wine - simple and sweet.
Dating Rekindles Fun
I can get way too serious if I'm not careful. All the unpaid bills, house maintenance projects and taxi driving can dampen my enjoyment of life.
When my husband and I first started dating again, I would carry all that stuff into our time together, and we'd end up either having a planning or griping session, depending on how things were going. Thank goodness my husband finally pointed out to me what i was doing.
I had completely missed one of the most important elements of dating - having fun together. It took discipline to stop myself and just relax. But after trying it a few times, it got easier to lighten up. And I've decided laughing with my husband is one of the best things we can do together.
Some Fun Almost-Free Dates I Make With My Husband
1. Watching sports together
My husband has boasted at more than one social gathering that we watch sports together. When I was little, the only sport I wanted to watch was ice skating. The ads on TV were more interesting to me than the game. But after my husband's repeated invitations to watch baseball on TV with him, I gave in.
This time, unlike when I was a kid, I had someone willing to explain what was going on. And as I learned more, I began to enjoy games more. On my own I never would have even considered watching baseball or football or hockey games. But now we both look forward to summer evenings watching the Red Sox!
2. Going out for coffee/tea
Food has always had a special place in my marriage. Starting with our honeymoon, you can chart our trips by pictures we take of restaurants we eat at. We mourn when one of "our places" closes, and get sentimental about meals we had there.
As much as we like food, we enjoy sitting and sharing some kind of drink together. Since we have so many good coffee places in town, we tend to head to one of those during the week while our kids are at rehearsals or youth group. Even spending a few minutes "decompressing" from our day draws us closer.
3. Doing crosswords together
We both like doing different kinds of puzzles: my husband goes for the Scrambles and I jump at Word Searches. But we both enjoy doing crosswords, and tried combining our efforts one evening. It turned out to be a spirited but friendly competition to see who could fill in the blanks first.
We've tried other puzzles on occasion, and usually end up laughing our way through them. It's a goofy, stress-free way to connect with each other.