“Did you date your spouse?” This question stares back at me each week as I fill out my staff meeting agenda. We have decided as a church staff that it is a priority. We know we should not sacrifice our marriages on the altar of ministry, work, or anything else.
So, did my wife and I date? Well, we did happen to eat dinner out that one night. And yesterday we managed to sneak in watching a movie between our daughter going to bed and us calling it a night. But, unfortunately, the answer is no. Sure, either of those could be counted as a date under the right conditions, but neither qualified. Why?
The main thing that kept our movie night or dinner together from being a “real date” was this: intentionality. Here’s the deal—dates have a purpose. I’m not dating my wife just to say I did. I’m dating her to get to know her better each week and make sure she feels loved. It is my job as her husband and the leader of our family to care for her soul. And she does the same for me. This means we have to make a real effort to dig into each other’s lives and hearts.
In order to do these things, you have to be intentional. If you just “happen” to eat dinner together, you aren’t being intentional. You may feel like you checked off the box, but I promise it was not as fruitful as it could have been. It will mean so much to her that you are thinking ahead and purposefully planning your time together. She doesn’t need a four-course meal every week, but she would flourish more if you made your dates a priority.
Do the Work
So, let’s talk practically. How do you do this? First of all, set a night. Pick a night of the week that works best for both of you, and have a date night every week on that day. And don’t move it. Whatever comes up is not as important as spending time as a couple. You will have to put aside your fear of missing out.
Secondly, if you are a husband, do the work for your wife. Don’t leave it up to her to pick every restaurant or activity. It’s completely fine if she wants a say, but don’t make it her job. Be creative and thoughtful, and make sure your wife feels valued. Even if you have to call the babysitter yourself—whatever you need to do is worth it.
When talking during staff meetings about how we dated, one of the things we often ask each other is, “Did your spouse consider that a date?” After further thought, sometimes we have to say no. This means we weren’t intentional, and we aren’t pursuing our spouses in the way we should be.
In all honesty, if we took the time to ask our spouse out on a date ahead of time, made a plan, and made it a priority, we would never have to ask that question. If we did these things, we would know we are really pursuing our spouse, and they would know that they are truly loved.