After October, May is one of my favorite months of the year because it's National Date Your Mate Month!!! Over the last couple of years, this holiday has become one of my favorites, maybe even more than Christmas, and that's saying a lot. The obvious focus for this month is to up your date night game and make date night more of a priority in your marriage. While I highly encourage you to do that, even if it means planning date nights at home after the kids are in in bed most weeks, there's a lot more to Date Your Mate Month than date night.
Two years ago, we were coming out of an eight month hibernation, where we couldn't leave the house much because of Emmy's preemie status. We'd really gotten lazy with our date night habits and wanted to up our game. I'm happy to say that we were able to do that and a year later, I feel like our date night game is stronger than ever before. This year I want focus on pursuing my husband and look for ways to connect and strengthen our relationship on a daily basis. It goes right along with the goal of A Prioritized Marriage, to do something every day that lets Joe know that he's my top priority, even when work, children and situations in life keep us from spending as much time together as we'd like.
When we started dating each other, Joe and I were on each other's minds constantly. We would text each other throughout the day, go on a long walk every night, hold hands any opportunity we had and you could often find us cuddled up on the couch. These things happened even when there was homework to do or we weren't able to see each other because our schedules were so opposite for the day. Now, more than seven years later, there are some days when I fall asleep realizing that, other than our good-bye kiss in the morning, Joe and I didn't do anything very couple-like that day.
After marriage, you should continue to pursue each other every single day. You both deserve to feel special, wanted and loved, and that takes deliberate action from both of you. Make it your goal to be more intentional with your words and actions every day and let your spouse know just how much you care. Below are some simple ideas for continuing to date your husband or wife for years to come. Your relationship will be more enjoyable and your marriage will last longer because of it.
Celebrate Date Your Mate Month
Daily, weekly and monthly rituals (or traditions) are a great way to keep courting each other throughout your entire marriage. The rituals in your marriage could be as simple as pizza night every Thursday, going to bed at the same time, or greeting each other with a longer than normal kiss at the end of every work day. Or your rituals could be more grand like spending one random weekend a year at your favorite bed and breakfast or going out for drinks together at the same time every single week. I recently read about a couple who had been going out for a burger every single week, it was their standing date. Their marriage is strong and has lasted many years. I'm sure their burgers and fries tradition alone isn't responsible for their success, but it did play a role in creating a strong marriage relationship that would last for years..
Did you know that you should be sharing eight touches a day with your spouse? And those touches should be meaningful. When Joe and I were dating, we were inseparable and always touching. Whether we were holding hands in the car or on a walk, cuddling while I did homework and we watched a movie, or hugging at the end of the night, we were always touching. We may not be as attached at the hip this many years later, but we still touch often, in the simplest ways. Read this post for ideas on how to add more touch in your marriage.
I mentioned earlier that Joe and I used to text all day. Funny story, Joe didn't used to have unlimited texting but I never knew that and he never told me. We were in the process of getting engaged and that $200 texting overage charge was a little bit of a set back. The nature of Joe's job now makes it difficult to text throughout the day. On the days that I'm home, I make an effort to send texts and video messages to Joe throughout the day, sharing the things that the kids and I are doing. If I have a thought, I'll text him about it or make a note in my phone to talk to him about it later. And I've recently really loved sending these fun and flirty picture messages to him.
Out of the conversations that you have with your spouse each day, what percentage of them are business (bills, parenting, etc.) and what percentage of them are fun (your relationship, dreams and plans for the future, etc.) While Emmy was in the NICU, one of the things that really helped us to make our marriage a priority, despite the limited time that we had to spend together, was to spend our dinners connecting on a deeper level. Rather than talking about the stresses that we were experiencing and how our situation was affecting life, we planned fun activities for after Emmy was home, talked about what we wanted to do for date night that week, talked about the funny things our kids had done recently or reminisced on moments from earlier in our marriage. Those simple conversations were an anchor for our relationship when life was tossing us to-and-fro.
These conversation starter cards from The Dating Divas are one of my favorite things to use to create connecting conversation with my husband. They come with five sets of topics (intimacy, finances, romance, quality time and family) and include 250 prompts. I keep a small stack of cards in my purse to pull out when we're out on a date or on a long drive. Every once in a while I'll rotate them with others from the set. The rest of the cards are stored in a central area of our home so I can grab them any time we are looking for things to talk about.
Dating your spouse shouldn't happen only during your weekly date nights. You should be making it a priority to date your mate on a daily basis. Your efforts don't have to be large ones, but they should be intentional. Find ways to date your spouse often this month and make it a lifestyle change that lasts well past the holiday!
Photography by Emily Jane