A few months ago, I started dating my husband again. Go ahead, reread that. ;-) We somehow managed to forget the importance of being intentional about dating when we had our biggest life changes: graduated college, moved states, lived with Jordan's parents (huge blessing), bought our first home (and fixer upper) and had our sweet Lucas Brent--all within 1.5 years. Um. WHAT. Yeah, honestly, just reading that to myself, I'm like, dang girl--extend some grace. And I have! Life threw a lot at us. So many blessings, yes. Absolutely. But difficulty adjusting? Absolutely. For the first time in the past 2.5 years, life is starting to feel a little more rhythmic.
And I like it.
I honestly wish that somebody had just boldly told us when we were engaged, "hey, make it a priority to date your spouse--weekly."
Weekly. That's bold.
Because at that point, I don't know that I would've doubted 1) the importance of it and 2) how realistic that was. And I mean that, at the time, I wouldn't have blown off that advice and thought it wasn't possible. Like, many of you are probably reading this and thinking, "oh, but that's quite impossible; you don't know my situation".
And I don't want to discount that. I totally want to acknowledge that I don't know your story, BUT I do know the importance dating your spouse is and how it can drastically change your friendship with your spouse, your intimacy and your overall view on life. Even SAVE your marriage. I do know dates don't have to break the bank and don't always require babysitters--maybe some creativity, organization and intentionality. Maybe asking a friend to swap sitting, asking a family member for help, being creative with in-home dates or bending somewhere in the budget. It actually is possible.
So this is me being that friend and saying: make an effort.
When we realized how intentional you actually have to be about planning regular date nights, not surprisingly enough, our marriage began to flourish. Life didn't feel as heavy. But what’s been fascinating to me is that, after many conversations with others, I realize we’re not alone. If I’m going out on a limb here, I’d guess that most couples fall into a similar category as us rather than scheduling dates with their spouse. And to be honest, it’s sparked this interest and excitement in me to scream to the mountains, "HEY, date your spouse!! I have the answer!" That, and we added marriage counseling to the mix, and together combined have been worth every penny and time spent. But that's for another blog post! And it's not that we've been perfect and haven't missed a week yet (our schedules are so varying), but we're figuring out a rhythm for us. And you can too.
So all of this has led me down a rabbit hole of ideas and creating—one of which I'm wanting to share with you and invite you in on. It's simple. Preplanned. And easy.
19 before nineteen
So if I'm being honest, at some point in our years of dating, actually planning dates became a source of frustration for us. And this probably sounds weird, and it's probably not everybody's frustration, but even before we had our son, we'd start arguing about WHERE to go. We could never pinpoint WHAT we wanted to do, and it would add an unnecessary weight to what should've been fun. Add Luke and fluctuating job schedules, and then it was like, WHEN can we fit this in and WHO can we get to babysit?
So because actually planning the date was difficult, we decided to create some ideas for us to plan in one sitting, create some preplanned structure and choose from one of those dates whenever we see some overlapping time on our calendars. Hence #19beforenineteen was created.
Jordan and I have filled out this chart in hopes that when a date night is coming up, we DON'T HAVE TO THINK AT ALL about where to go and what to do. It's on there! We've already written down our choices, and we can check them off when we're finished and look back and remember the fun and new things we tried.
Huge point: THIS IS IN NO WAY A CHECKLIST.
It should only alleviate the stress of planning dates and encourage intentionality to promote your friendship, intimacy and overall relationship.
So if any of you are game and want to join in, take a second to download, print and fill out this chart. Hang it up somewhere when you're done and start dating your spouse again. Share with a friend of yours and get dates ideas from one another when you fill out your calendars.
Remember that dating your spouse doesn't always have to mean paying for babysitters or going over your budget to fund them. They can simply mean a Netflix binge after the kids go to bed and phones are silenced in another room.
So if weekly dates just aren't a thing for you right now, then consider joining Jordan and me in our 19 preplanned dates before 2019, and share some of your creativity with us all by using the hashtag: #19beforenineteen on Instagram. I think it'll be fun. ;-)
Cheers to the year that you tend to your relationship and marriage--make 2018 a good one!