With February right around the corner, conversations of a romantic date are in the air. Reservations are being made, roses are being purchased, and babysitters are starting to come in short supply. But the conversation of date nights for couples who are married and engaged is bigger than this one day. The concerning question is, are Christian’s missing out on date night?

I want to start off this article understanding that there are different seasons for people. Having contracted with the military, I understand it can actually be impossible for people to date at times in their life. Newborns become the most important thing for a moment, big events hit life that can take the immediate focus, and sometimes our own mental health can cause barriers. If dates are not an option, I encourage you to check out our post on improving communication in your marriage. But I want to speak for every other day, the other 40 or 45 weeks of the year.

Not dating is a problem.

I also want to note I write this understanding I have gone on exactly two dates in the last three months. One of them included our ten year anniversary to an out-of-state trip for a three day getaway. But it doesn’t negate there should be more. This is something that is always needing to be worked.

But that’s the point. Not dating is a sign of a bigger problem.

What Is Your Priority?

In September 2016, the Marriage Foundation published a research project from 10,000 couples and their habits of dating. The study found these results of frequency of going on dates:

  • 11% went on dates once a week or more.
  • 30% of couples went on dates once a month.
  • 23% went on dates less than once a month.
  • 36% of couples went on dates hardly ever.

That means more than half of couples are going out on less than 10 dates a year and not making their spouse the priority. The good news is the study found this is not indicative of divorce, but the quality of the relationship was directly affected.

It comes down to priorities and German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe says it best:

Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

How Should Your Marriage Be Prioritized?

Understanding the priority of marriage within the rest of life’s busyness is important because our actions, time and money spent, and energy towards priorities should align. If our marriage is more important than watching television and television has become a barrier for your marriage, naturally we should be spending less time watching football or Master Chef.

It’s very clear what Scripture puts as the most important thing that should be in a Christian’s life:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

From here, family should be the next most important, followed by career/ministry, and everything else. Within family, the marriage needs to be a priority, though the needs of children tend to take precedent. If your marriage is not aligned, your ability to parent will be hindered. If you feel your love received from your spouse is diminished, we will not be effective in much else.

So how do we enact this? Stephen R. Covey in his bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People talks about how people can improve their living and I think it’s perfect for finding more dates.

I am personally persuaded that the essence of the best thinking in the area of time management can be captured in a single phrase: Organize and execute around priorities.

Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Give Time

I don’t list money first, because the most valuable resource you have is actually time. If you haven’t gone on a date this month, then you are not valuing it. A date does not have to be a formal event every time, but it does require your undivided attention and time.

Be creative. This can be a small group at church you visit and then talk about at a coffee shop afterwards by yourselves. Investigate what your spouse as been thinking of your relationship and see what hopes and dreams they have for the future. Tackle a budget. Simply go for a night time stroll.

Put It In The Budget

For young couples and those with tight finances, I’d recommend $50. If you have children, don’t forget to factor that into the costs. A budget helps make sure not every date is the same, but it does not have to be elaborate. It’s amazing how far $50 can go when you want to experiment with making sushi or cooking your own recipe of cheeseburgers.

Make sure these dates are memorable and fun. Allow yourself to soak in the time with each other. And let those moments become your conversations as you look to celebrate your marriag together.

Share Intimacy

If dates were simply social events, then your marriage is just a close friend. But it’s more than that. Intimacy comes in many forms. Sex is the obvious one. If you can, seek it out with your spouse within these dates.

But intimacy is more than sex. Intimacy is when we open up about our fears, our concerns, and our deepest desires. Our hopes for the future can include what happens next in one’s career and needing to share in the uncertainty of the decisions. It can be seen in the need to hold hands and steal a kiss when our hearts have been shared through tough conversations. And it requires our full presence.

I encourage all of you to seek a date night, sooner than later. If you have any suggestions on creative date nights, please share them in the comments below.

Published by Jeremy Smith

Jeremy is a Licensed Professional Counselor working with adults and youth. Jeremy has a history of working as a ministry director for Youth for Christ for 8 years and then working as a mental health and substance use adult counselor in Ohio, specifically running an Opioid Residential Treatment Center.

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