3 Tips to Help You Date Your Spouse Daily

Last weekend at The Wives Workshop, I presented on the topic of continuing to date each other after you get married. It's been on my mind ever since, so I thought I'd carry that over into a post today. I've picked my three favorite tips from the night and adjusted them a bit based on a couple of things that I learned from the other presenters and thoughts that I've had since.

It's no secret that I'm passionate about date night in marriage; I even wrote an e-book full of tips and ideas for your date night activities about it. But dating your spouse involves so much more than regular date nights. When you were "courting" each other (I can't help but think of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers every time I talk about this subject), you were in constant pursuit. Every single day you were eager to find ways to connect, whether that was in person, through text/email or over the phone, depending on your relationship situation.

If you don't continue your pursuit after marriage, you'll wake up one day and find that you've become roommates, business partners or just a really good parenting team. Your "partnership" and your family was built on that friendship and romance, and you must continue to build that relationship throughout the rest of your lives if you want it to last. There are simple things that you can do every single day to make your marriage a priority and continue to date your spouse.

Read: Why You NEED to Make Your Spouse a Priority Every Day

Three things you can do now to continue dating each other after you get married.

Make Time to Connect

At the workshop, I talked about connecting conversation. So often in marriage, we find ourselves communicating about our adult responsibilities or the "business" side of life. The fun, relationship building chats don't happen as often. Look for opportunities in your daily routine to connect and have the more fun discussions, dreaming about the future or getting to know each other better. Take a walk together, meet for lunch, enjoy time outside after the kids are in bed, send a few texts back and forth or chat over the phone during your commute.

While we were in the NICU last year, it would have been all too easy to focus on the trials that our family was going through and set our marriage aside. We needed to be a solid team then more than ever, so we knew that we needed to make time with each other a priority every single day. We found a way to make date night happen on a regular basis, and spend some time, just the two of us, on a daily basis. Dinner was spent chatting about the fun things we wanted to do as a family after Emmy came home, memories from our relationship or funny things that we'd experienced that day. It was a great opportunity to forget about the stress we were experiencing and get back to the roots of our relationship. Some days it was only 15 minutes and others we had an entire hour. It didn't matter how much time we had, it mattered what we did with that time.

Read: Connecting Like We Did When We First Met

Think About Each Other

When life gets busy, you could go an entire day without crossing paths, but still find a way to let your spouse know you care. If you make a point to connect through conversation each day, you'll know what your spouse has going on in their life and then you can use that to your advantage. Maybe they have a big deadline to meet at work, a test to take, or a presentation that they are nervous about. Wishing them luck before they walk out the door in the morning, sending a quick text a few minutes before the event, and/or following up at the end of the day when you're back together are all great ways to let your love know that you are thinking about them.

If you both have busy schedules but want to make a point to let the other know they're on your mind throughout the day, there are a few different things that you can do. I like to set reminders and alarms on my phone to pop up and alert me when it's my husband's lunch break and he can take calls or before I know he'll be doing something that I want to encourage him on. I'm also a fan of scheduling text messages, and I don't think that having a text scheduled to send out at a specific time is any less sincere. Setting reminders or having messages scheduled out in advance is great, because chances are your spouse is on your mind, you just may not be able to watch the clock every minute of the day so as not to miss out on your opportunity to say, "hey, you're important to me!"

Read: Why You Might Want to Text Your Spouse More Often

Meaningful Physical Touch

Thinking back on the days when we were dating, I remember how inseparable we were. We were always hugging, holding hands or cuddling. While I was doing my homework, Joe would sit next to me on the couch, as close together as we could get, so that we could feel connected while we did our separate activities. When we were out to eat, we would hold hands, touch knees or play footsie under the table while we ate. It all sounds a little nauseating now, but the truth is, I like to strive to be as mushy and in love as we were in the early stages of our relationship.

I love to look for little ways each day to connect through touch. Whether it's stealing a kiss while I get dinner ready, sitting close together on the couch while we read stories to our kids or holding hands while we go on a walk. You may not be as "all over each other" as you were when you were dating, but you can get pretty darn close.

Read: Why Your Spouse Needs at Least 8 Touches a Day

Those mushy feelings of love and the butterflies in the stomach that you felt while you were dating can continue throughout the rest of your lives. With a little effort and a lot of intentionality, you will find that it becomes easier and easier to date each other daily, even with all of the grown up responsibilities and boring activities that you have to take part in on a regular basis.

What do you do to pursue your spouse daily?

Wives to Watch in Every Stage of Life - Tayler of The Morrell Tale

The Wives to Watch in Every Stage of Life series is one that I've been really excited about for a while! Each stage of life looks different and brings unique challenges to every couple. My hope is that you will be inspired by the stories of the women featured in this series. I hope that their experiences will help you find more ways to make your marriage relationship a priority throughout every stage of your own life.

Tayler and I have been blog friends for a while now, and have had the opportunity to become friends in real life as well. I've loved watching her family grow and seeing how she and her husband handle the challenges that come their way. I'm so glad that she agreed to be part of this series!

What does it mean to prioritize your marriage?

We've always been told that marriage is important in the eyes of God. But, we've also been taught by our religious leaders that when you put God first, you will automatically become closer to your spouse. It's a love triangle with God at the top--the closer you get to him, the closer you and your spouse will become.

We prioritize our marriage by making sure to spend time with each other every evening. Whether it be cuddling five minutes before going to bed, playing a board game, or just spending time in the same room while doing different things, we try to make it work. We also believe in fully supporting each other. I've told Justin I will follow him wherever he goes and support him no matter what further education or career choices he makes. And he supports me in my endeavors in blogging, freelancing, and teaching English online.

How have the different stages you’ve experienced in life affected how you prioritize your relationship with each other?

When it was just the two of us, we spent all the time in the world together and went on numerous dates. As Mormons, we attended an LDS temple every single month. Now that we have two children (3 years old and 6 months old), it's a little harder, especially with Justin's commute, bed schedules, and my awkward online teaching schedule. But, we've learned that prioritizing your marriage when you have kids doesn't necessarily have to only happen on kid-less dates. We love doing family activities--we love taking our kids with us on adventures and "dates". Both of us find being a parent very attractive. So, when I see Justin being a wonderful father to our children, I fall even deeper in love with him. And, same goes for him.

What are some rituals/traditions (big or small) that you have with your spouse?

We have quite a few. Sunday is Justin's day to cook, not because I make him, but because he also loves to be in the kitchen and experiment. We try to read scriptures as a couple every night and try to have a couple meeting every Monday. Whenever Justin has to travel for work, I Facetime him twice a day--once before the kids go to bed and then once right before I go to bed. Never do we ever go to bed without saying prayers as a couple or saying "I love you."

How have the obstacles and challenges that you’ve faced as a couple made you a stronger team?

Nothing refines you quite like becoming a parent: pains and cravings and complaining and complications during pregnancy, sleepless nights and feelings of being helpless to your kids in the beginning, switching off bedtimes, emergency room trips, patience with kids, patience with each other, missing family when apart, debating about parenting philosophies...the list could go on. But, being parents is always going to be a learning experience. Neither of us are more in charge of the kids--we both take equal responsibility in them and we work together to help raise them the best we can.

Another trial that helped us come out stronger was last year. At the beginning of 2016, we couldn't afford to pay rent anymore since I quit teaching to stay at home with our son, Rhys. We moved in with my parents. We had to learn to balance being with my family so often and being alone. I also had to be more sensitive and perceptive to Justin's thoughts and feelings and to not let me or my family tread on his toes as head of our household. Then, in May, a week after we found out we were pregnant with Evelyn, Justin's entire department gets laid off. Being unemployed with no income and living in the basement of my parents while pregnant with our second child was quite the blow to both of our pride. But, we learned to support each other, sending optimistic texts throughout the day. Me, telling Justin I trusted in him and how proud I was of him and my faith in him and his abilities to get hired at a new job. Him, telling me that I was strong physically and mentally (I was suffering depression and having a really physically bad first trimester). When we did get a job and moved to Texas, Justin had to travel across the country for the next two months for corporate, leaving me alone to unpack, 20 weeks pregnant, with a toddler, and no family or friends. But, we have really come to rely on each other and be each other's main supporter since then. Our marriage, family, and faith are all stronger than they were a year ago.

Click here to read more interviews in the Wives to Watch in Every Stage of Life Series

The Morrell Tale

Showing Love to My Spouse with My Love Language

My top love language is Acts of Service and has been for the past few years. It's funny because before we got married and even throughout the first year or so of our marriage, acts of service was at the very bottom of the list of ways that I feel loved. I never would have thought that having someone else clean my house or cross something off of my to do list would be something that I'd appreciate so much because those are things that I like to do for myself. But this especially busy stage of life that I'm in makes those things mean a lot to me. When the things that are on my list to do get done by someone else, I have more room in my schedule for my other top love language, quality time.

Read: The Ways We Show Love

Acts of Service is not my husband's top love language, and I'm not sure if I even know where it falls on his list (I guess we need to take the quiz again). I do know that his top two are Physical Touch and Quality Time. We took The Five Love Languages quiz together early on in our relationship and ever since, I've made a point to learn and do the things that I know Joe appreciates and that make him feel loved. Back scratches, long walks and time when we can relax together and forget about our responsibilities are just a few of his favorite things. While it's important to me to find what speaks to my husband and work to do those things on a regular basis, it's just as important to continue to speak my own "native" language and do so in a way that he will recognize and understand.

Mix and freeze cookie dough

One of the things I've found that my husband loves is to always have one of his treats of choice on hand. It's easy for him to pick up a case of of his favorite soda so that there's always one in the fridge, and he usually does, but there are things that I know he appreciates if I will do for him as well. Joe loves to eat a bowl of ice cream at the end of the day, so keeping a few flavors in our house and restocking when we run out is something that he loves. He also gets spontaneous cravings for fresh cookies, not already baked and put in the freezer, or ones that have been sitting on the counter for a few days. These are things that he never thinks about until he's in the moment and wishes he had them.

Something that I started doing a year or so ago was mixing up a batch of cookies and freezing the dough so that we could pull them out and bake them when those cravings strike. Sure, I could keep store bought cookie dough in our freezer instead, but it's a little more expensive and store bought just isn't the same as homemade. So every few months when we run out of dough, I whip up a batch, roll the dough out into balls, freeze them on a cookie sheet and then put them all in one freezer bag with the baking instructions on the front to make his life easier when he's ready to bake them.

Read: Why Your Spouse Needs 8 Touches a Day

Mix and freeze cookie dough to bake in the future, when a craving hits.

My husband is a simple man who appreciates when anything requires him to put forth as little effort as possible, especially when it comes to cooking something. If I have four to six cookies put into individual ziploc bags, all stored in one big freezer bag with the oven temperature and bake time written on the front, he is one happy man! He doesn't have to bring a big bag of cookie dough up from the basement freezer and then return them after he's done. He simply grabs a bag, heats up the oven. throws the dough on a pan and then waits for hot, fresh cookies. He will of course share with me when they're finished! ;)

Our freezer has a half eaten carton of ice cream in it and this weekend I plan to stock the basement freezer with a few more flavors to replace it after it's gone. But the other day I decided that if I keep my pantry and house stocked with all of my favorite treats, my husband deserves to have them stocked with his as well, so I made some cookie dough. I made three different kinds, half a batch of each, so that we can switch off, and because I couldn't decide which one sounded better.

Read: Using the Love Languages to Give the Perfect Gift

Three different flavors of cookie dough perfect for freezing and baking later, when the craving hits.

I love the recipe with oatmeal in it and it tastes especially good if you're eating a frozen cookie dough ball, which I would obviously never do.... Joe will eat cookies that have oatmeal in them, but he prefers them without. The second recipe that I made is a tried and true family recipe that is always delicious and we've been making for a lot of years. The chocolate cookies are just the chocolate chip cookie recipe with cocoa added into the dough and white chips instead of chocolate.

Disclaimer: I have no idea who Melanie and Jan are. Their names have always been part of the recipe title, so I keep them there because I figure they deserve credit for these amazing cookies. ;)

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookie dough

Melanie's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups oatmeal
6 ounces chocolate chips

Cream butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture. Add oatmeal and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Roll dough into 1" balls and bake at 350° F for 12 minutes.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Polka Dot Cookie Dough

Jan's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes: 6 dozen cookies

2 cups butter
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups brown sugar
2 Tbls vanilla
6 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 cups chocolate chips

Option: Add 1/2 cup cocoa and 2 cups of white chips to half of the dough.

Cream butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture. Stir in chips. Roll into 1" balls and bake at 350° F for 10 minutes or until edges begin to brown.

Make and freeze cookie dough

Whether your spouse appreciates fresh homemade cookies like mine, or something else like having their car cleaned or taking a day off of work just to hang out with each other, find a way to speak to them in your language.  I appreciate love languages and that people have those specific things that speak love to them stronger than anything else, but I also believe that we can appreciate each of the five love languages in one way or another. Gifts is at the bottom of my list, but I know that there are certain things that I have on my wishlist that I would be thrilled to get spontaneously, and I love gifts that are well thought out and centered around my love languages. Our first Christmas, Joe gave me a bunch of things, things that I could have easily bought for myself, but I loved that he got them for me because he had thought through each item carefully and had a specific reason for gifting it to me.

Read: The Secret to Success with The Five Love Languages

Polka Dot Cookies

Think through the five love languages; quality time, acts of service, physical touch, gift, and words of affirmation, and come up with two or three things for each that you know your spouse appreciates. Use that list, along with the things that you have already been doing to show your spouse that you care, that they are a priority to you and that you are thinking about them often. Then watch to see how happy your small gestures make them. Those little moments of intentionality can go a long way.

What is one way that you've shown love to your spouse in your language recently?

Dear Newlyweds; 5 Truths About Marriage

Dear Newlyweds,

Congratulations on your recent marriage, I sincerely wish you all the best! As you begin your new life together, there are a few things that I thought you should know. I'm sure you received A LOT of advice on your wedding day. And I'm sure by now you've realized that some of that advice is really helpful and some is not actually realistic. 

At my own wedding and other weddings that I've attended, I've heard a lot of different pieces of advice. Some are a little silly like, "when you fight, fight naked". Others sound like great advice but in reality, aren't the best like, "never go to bed angry". (Tip: If you're in a big fight and it's late and you're tired, go to bed. If it's the middle of the day, take a nap. Things seem like less of an issue when you're well rested.) I have heard quite a few sweet words of wisdom given to newlyweds like, "always kiss goodnight" or "hold hands often". As I've been thinking about our marriage journey so far, I've come up with a few words of wisdom of my own.

You Are a Team

This is the biggest thing that I feel like every couple should remember. By working together, you will get more accomplished and you'll be more likely to win in life. With anything that you are working toward, work as a team, and work together, not against each other. I'm not a big sports person, but I do know that in most sports themed movies, there's that one person who has to be humbled and stop playing like they are the only one or the most important player on the team. Learn from their mistakes rather than making your own. Let your spouse's strengths compliment your strengths and together you'll be ready to conquer anything that comes your way.

Make Time for Your Marriage

Every time a phase in our life ends, I think about all of the things that we'll be able to do with the extra time that we have. I'm always so sure that we're going to have extra time to focus on each other but inevitably, something always swoops into to feel those cracks of time just as quickly as they opened up. Over the years I've learned that if I want to make my marriage a priority, I have to do just that and make time in my schedule for my husband.

Read: You'll Never be Able to Find Time for Your Marriage.

Continue to Date Each Other

Whenever I mention that I think couples should continue to date each other, people usually think I'm just suggesting that they put date night on the calendar once a week. While I'm a huge advocate of date night, there is so much more to dating each other than that. It's the flirty text messages throughout the day, getting all dressed up for the time you spend together on dates, kissing often and doing those little things that you were doing when you dated each other. It's finding a way to let your spouse know that you're thinking about them throughout the day. Whether that's sending them a quick link to a funny video, story, or meme that you know they'd enjoy, grabbing their favorite drink when you're out running errands or surprising them by taking care of something that they'd normally do so that you have more time to spend together. Find ways to continue to court each other and keep the spark alive in your marriage on a daily basis.

It Isn't Always Easy

One thing that I used to hear a lot was that marriage is hard work. Building a successful marriage does take effort and I guess you could say that it takes work, but it's fun work! I never like to refer to marriage as hard or difficult because those words don't quite fit marriage in my mind. Life is a journey, and when you get married you have a partner to take that journey with you. In a way, that actually makes your journey easier. There's someone by your side to catch you if you fall, somebody to lean on through the struggles and a best friend to share in all of your joys and successes. When I look back on our journey as husband and wife so far, I see those obstacles that we encountered, but I don't see them for the struggle that they were, I see them for the success that we felt when we conquered them and the way that they helped us to become a stronger team. Which leads me to my next point...

Read: Why I Miss Our Time in the NICU

The Challenges Will Make or Break You

When our daughter was in the NICU a year ago, I realized that it was a challenge that could tear us apart or bring us closer together. For three weeks, we were in balancing life between the hospital and home. Our two little ones were our top priority and it would have been easy to put our marriage on the back burner and focus on how stressful life was. Instead, we worked together to find the best way to care for our little ones and we made sure to find time for each other every single day, even if it was only 15 minutes. At the end of that obstacle, we were stronger and happier because of the way we had chosen to approach it. You can choose whether or not the trials that you face are going to make you a greater team or bring you down.

Married life is great, and you will love it!! Having a friend to take with you to dinner, weddings, the new movie that just came, all of those family events, etc. is a lot of fun. Planning for the future, working on projects together and tackling life one problem at a time is rewarding. Enjoy each moment that you get to experience together and look for ways to improve your marriage every single day.

Wives to Watch in Every Stage of Life - Amy of Freshly Married

The Wives to Watch in Every Stage of Life series is one that I've been really excited about for a while! Each stage of life looks different and brings unique challenges to every couple. My hope is that you will be inspired by the stories of the women featured in this series. I hope that their experiences will help you find more ways to make your marriage relationship a priority throughout every stage of your own life.

It's been a couple of months, but I'm excited to get back into this series with today's post featuring Amy Miller of Freshly Married. She and I are currently working together on The Wives Workshop (which you should all attend) and we share a passion for educating and inspiring couples to make their marriage the best that they can. 

What does it mean to you to prioritize your marriage?

When I think of “prioritize your marriage,” I feel a connotation of selflessness. So to me, it means you not only recognize its importance, but you are also willing to give up other things in order to keep this relationship healthy and growing. Sacrifices are not easy, but we’ve shown a pattern of making little sacrifices back and forth for each other and for our family, and that strong pattern of love makes it feel like a good choice. Because I believe that marriage is the most important relationship after our relationship with God, I think putting your marriage first is ALWAYS going to be a good choice.

How have the different stages you’ve experienced in life affected how you prioritize your relationship with each other?

In our short four years together so far, we have been through some interesting stages and experiences, such as the married student life, job changes, various medical issues, job loss, moving, and buying our first house. Even though some of these experiences show growth and can be exciting, they have the potential to make us stressed, frustrated, worried, depressed, and stretched to our capacities. When this has happened we help each other better focus on what matters most, and in return that obviously prioritizes our relationship.  

For example, During our second year of marriage, we just moved into our first home at the same time that I had just started a new semester of school after a 2 year hiatus. Needless to say, it was a lot of emotional change for me all at once. My husband was working full time and teaching night classes a few times a week. I had already cut down my social life so much because of how busy we were, and yet I was still struggling. Having so much going on for months straight was hard on us individually, and as a couple.

After talking about things, my husband was selfless enough to stop teaching night classes, even though it was a huge passion for him at the time. It’s something I will always remember, and has made me want to avoid either of us having to make these tough decisions. The next semester I lessened my class schedule, which meant I would graduate one semester later than I planned, but I was so much happier, and my relationship benefited from it.

This experience has helped us continually be aware of what is too much to take on for long periods of time, and if it gives the impression that it’s going to be hard on our relationship, we don’t do it. It could seem like a boring life not taking exciting risks, but in my mind, the stability of my marriage is not something worth risking.

What are some rituals/traditions (big or small) that you have with your spouse?

One of our weekly rituals is date night, of course! We have it on our schedule every single weekend, though sometimes it ends up being on a weekday, or we count vacations or fun family events as our date night. This was important to us from day one, which is why we already have money put aside to pay for a weekly babysitter when we have kids! Haha.

We are also big movie-goers, and decided to document every movie we saw in a fun way. We pose in front of the cardboard movie dioramas that the theater usually has set up. Some of the dioramas are pretty interactive so it makes for some fun poses! We have specific digital photo album we put these pictures in, too.

How have the obstacles and challenges that you’ve faced as a couple made you a stronger team?

The different challenges and obstacles we have faced together have taught us a lot about our strengths and weaknesses, individually, and as a couple. We try to assess our strengths and weaknesses together, figuring out how we can help each other grow. But also, we figure out where our individual skills are going to be best utilized in our life together, whether we follow typical gender roles or not. I think that’s what makes us a stronger team, and why I love the word “team” as part of a description for marriage!

Tell me about something that you hope to be able to do together in the future.

Something that we are hoping to do together in the near future (hopefully!), is to have and raise a family. It’s something we’ve been trying for a year to do, but have had challenges in. We both knew ahead of time that having our own children wouldn’t be easy, but we have so much optimism and faith in the process. Having our little puppy, Oli, around helps us be more patient, too. :)

Click here to read more interviews in the Wives to Watch in Every Stage of Life Series

Amy Miller - Freshly Married