My husband and I married when we relatively young, 25 and 23, respectively. We were babes, by all accounts.
But we sure had fire in our bellies, wanderlust in our eyes, and adventure in the marrow of our bones. So, I think we surprised no one when mere days after our honeymoon, we packed a trailer, hitched it to his Ford Explorer, and moved from Dallas, TX to Boston, MA.
Our newlywed years in Boston satisfied our thirst for exploration by sheer proximity to so many wonderful cities. Any given weekend, you could find us dashing off to exciting places. We would visit cities like New York City, Bar Harbor, New Port, and Martha’s Vineyard. We even drove to Canada twice in one summer. Living in Boston meant adventure was only a tank of gas away. And even within our own city, there was never a lack of new experiences. There were restaurants to try, symphonies to see, or Red Socks games to catch. Those were the dual income, no children, “Where do you want to go this weekend?” care free days! Before graduate degrees, and mortgages, and professional leadership responsibilities, and children… time stood still for a moment and the world—or at least the East Coast— was our playground.
It’s been nearly 15 years since we married. We’ve managed to sneak in some wonderful vacations and mission trips along the way. Still, there has not been a travel season quite like what we experienced in those newlywed years. Likely there won’t be another one until our boys (currently ages 4 and 6) are grown. And that’s okay. We’ve realized over the years as marvelous as travel and exploration can be, what was really magical about that season was the amount of time we had to discover one another.
Taking a break from everyday life with my forever roommate, best friend, and significant other was actually quite nourishing for our burgeoning marriage. And, to be honest, it still is. We still need time away to re-discover, touch base, and connect with each other. We recognize the importance of carving out weekly dates, couples retreats, and a few days away a couple of times a year. My husband and I are by no means romance experts, but we have managed to find a rhythm of life that prioritizes the romance in our marriage.
First, I cannot over emphasize the importance of weekly dates. Getting away in the evening is infinitely harder and arguably more expensive than date lunches. For that reason, my husband and I rotate our weekly dates between doing an evening out one week and then a date lunch the next. Since both our boys are now in school, we try to align our schedules and meet for lunch. We frequent the Baylor Club, especially if we can find at least an hour. But if we’re in a rush, we’re likely to grab Pei Wei or Torchy’s Tacos. The point of date lunch isn’t so much where we go but that we take time to pause the chaos of life, catch our breath, and connect.
A second date method is something we’ve affectionately termed “late night date night.” Our boys were born 20 months apart. In those early years, we hardly had time to sleep or maintain good hygiene, even, so squeezing in date nights out was low on our priority list. Also, we were both juggling family and full time careers. We were much too tired to go out. We learned pretty quickly if we put our babies down by 7:30, we could have food delivered, rent a movie, and simulate some semblance of a decent date experience. Those dates gave us intentional time together. We had a solid 2-3 hours before one of the boys woke up needing to be fed or before we passed out from exhaustion. Those “late night date nights” on the sofa eating pizza, watching Netflix and actually chilling were water to a weary marriage.
A third way my husband and I date is with getaways. Two to three times a year, we ask family in the Dallas/Fort Worth area to come stay at our house. We then get away for 2 to 4 nights. We’ve gone on trips to California and New York. We’ve also gone just up the road to Dallas or just down the way to Austin. Often times we vacation, but we have also used our getaways to attend marriage retreats and conferences. We’ve found over the years the destination is a bonus; the real indulgence is how intentional we are with our time once we reach our arrival city. We integrate marriage building questions about our future, dreams, current struggles, and our overall well being. We ask each other the kinds of questions we aren’t able to easily fit into our busy work and kid centered lives.
In our 15 years, we have learned intentional time away from the everyday helps us grow together, rather than apart. Hitting the pause button on day to day distractions creates space for us to check in with one another. It also allows us to evaluate strengths and make adjustments to weaknesses. Whether you set aside time to date over lunch, an evening in with take out, or a romantic getaway, think of your time together as an investment. You are investing in the current and future health of your marriage.