Do you remember when you first started dating? You wanted to be together as much as humanly possible. You would rearrange your whole world to spend just a few minutes together. In the days before cell phones, you would pull the home phone cord as far as it would stretch and lay on your bed talking, and then eventually just listening to each other breathe because no one wanted to hang up first.
Does it still feel like that?
If not, why not?
The butterflies in your stomach may not be as active now as they once were, but there should still be a desire to spend time together and the effort to make it happen.
What we discovered pretty early on in marriage is that each of us needs different things to feel connected to one another. This isn’t about communication and sex. This is specifically about the way we feel connected in the times that we’re together.
In our relationship, Jeremy is a “quality time” person. If we are together, he wants it to feel special. He wants to make sure we cut out the distractions and focus on one another. Corrie is a “quantity time” person. It doesn’t really matter what’s happening as long as we’re together. So, while Corrie is making dinner, Jeremy is sitting in the kitchen, and the kids are running in and out, and the oven timer is going off, and the dryer is buzzing that it’s done, and Alexa is making an announcement . . . it still feels like a win for Corrie because we’re together. Jeremy, not so much. That feels like chaos.
We have to be intentional to make sure each of us gets the kind of time that refills our tanks. There are lots of moments when we are just in the same vicinity of one another, doing life, and creating “quantity time” for Corrie. We are also intentional to create space for dedicated “quality time” with one another for Jeremy. No matter which one of us you most identify with, we all need both quantity and quality time. It’s not either/or, it’s both.
So how do we do it, and how can you?
When our kids were very young, we decided that regular date nights out were difficult to pull off. We didn’t have family that lived close, so it required someone else to babysit. Sometimes we couldn’t afford it, other times it was a lot of work to get the kids settled and the babysitter to the house for just enough time to grab a quick dinner and a movie. So, we started doing regular “date nights in.” These took a lot of different forms, but it might be:
- Getting the kids to bed and laying down to watch a movie without distraction
- Cooking a meal or doing a project together
- Ordering pizza and eating it in bed
- or so many other things.
We still went out on dates, but we tried to add free/cheap/quick/easy things to prioritize time together.
Once the kids all started school, we leveraged Jeremy’s off day: Friday. We started taking “Fri-Dates.”
- Lunch and a matinee before school pick up
- Something for both of us such as Top Golf and Target
- Driving toward the mountains to do some antiquing or just looking at the scenery and houses as we drive and dream about the future
Sometimes it costs money, and other times it is just the investment of time.
Then in recent years, we have tried to be very intentional to prioritize at least one trip a year without kids, whether it’s just the two of us or with other couples. We say “tried” because we haven’t been successful every year, but by talking about it, planning for it, budgeting for it, and blocking off the calendar, we’ve been successful more years than not. Some examples have been a cruise, an all-inclusive with friends, quick trips to do something fun, or adding a day or two on the front or back of a work trip.
Obviously, we recognize not everyone has Friday off, so Fri-Dates may not work for you. We also know, depending on your season of life, a vacation without the kids may not be feasible. The specifics are actually less important than the rationale.
How are you choosing to intentionally create time with one another?
Some couples go to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings. We’ve had friends who work out a partnership with another couple in their church or on their street and they swap free childcare. Couple A will watch all the kids while Couple B gets a date night without having to worry about paying for childcare. At some point this week or next Couple B will watch all the kids while Couple A goes out. There are families within our church who use the youth group or kids’ ministry midweek programming as a 60 to 90-minute window for a date. While that isn’t the intended vision for those ministries, if it is the best time for those couples, we are all for it!
Get creative. Ask other couples what they do. Google it.
Remember, what you do isn’t nearly as important as the fact that you are doing it.
We aren’t big fans of husbands and wives creating all their best memories away from each other. The husband lives his life. The wife lives hers. They spend as much or more time apart as they do together. Most of their new memories and experiences are shared with others. At first this isn’t that big of a deal―there’s just a little sliver of their lives that are separate. However, the longer they go the larger and larger that divide gets until they find themselves far apart and aren’t sure how they got here.
It’s not really about experiences or memories, it’s about time and togetherness.
There have been seasons in recent years where we started to feel disconnected from one another. Not in a “things are broken, oh no, what are we going to do” kind of way. More like a “I feel like we are the most amazing roommates who really like each other but miss each other” kind of way. Almost every time it can be traced to one of three things: We haven’t been on a Fri-Date or a trip together in a while, we haven’t had sex recently enough, or we aren’t communicating more than just the logistics of our family life. The cool thing is that these start to build on one another. When we prioritize our Fri-Dates, we talk about things that matter, which usually makes us want to get the kids to bed earlier, lock the door and “discuss the budget.”
Whether it is a Fri-Date, an all-inclusive resort, or a trip to Taco Bell while the kids are at Vacation Bible School, what are you doing to communicate to your spouse:
“I’m willing to do whatever it takes to spend time with you.”
Written by: Jeremy & Corrie Isaacs. Jeremy and Corrie lead Generations Church, a growing church about halfway between Atlanta and the north Georgia mountains. They have four children, including three teenage sons and one daughter. Jeremy has written three books including “Your Marriage Matters,” co-written with Corrie and released in October 2022.