Dating is an easy thing to do when you are, uh, dating. But after the wedding is over, should dating be over too? I don’t think it should, and here’s why. Dating began as a way for you and your significant other to get to know more about each other, share experiences, and show devotion to your relationship. All of these elements are really important to a marriage too, so why should this practice become outdated after marriage?
When I got married, I was determined to continue dating my spouse. It was my own experience growing up that made this so important to me. I had grown up in a family that was full of love, yet something was missing. I never saw my parents go on a date—not even one.
This, in turn, fostered insecurities in my mind about our family.
Why don’t my parents ever want to be alone together?
Do they really still love each other?
Will our family experience a divorce?
It bothered me that my parents never wanted to spend time together without us kids always in the mix. I felt that they were missing a deeper part of their relationship by never spending time on their relationship exclusively. Sure, I heard them exchange “I love you’s” often, but I wondered why they never followed it up with intimate alone time.
My sweet parents never knew that their failure to go on a date gave me such fears. They were very proud, in fact, that they never sent their kids to babysitters and always planned trips for the entire family to enjoy together. Of course, family unity has its place. But I wanted something, at least one date, to point to and say, “There. On that day, my parents went to dinner together, just them, because they love each other.”
Years later, I remember my siblings and I conspired to send our parents away for an anniversary present. We wouldn’t even give them a choice—we would arrange the whole thing and send them packing for their first private weekend in over 20 years.
I’ll never forget the looks on their faces. They opened that envelope, and read that they were headed to a weekend resort and that the “honeymoon” suite was reserved for them. They looked scared to death, and it almost broke my heart. But when they realized they weren’t getting out of this, they began to get a little excited. I remember them both having a little bit of “high school sweetheart” nervousness about them.
Once there, our parents finally realized that we were going to keep sending their phone calls to voicemail. So they were forced to focus on each other. It was a wake-up call, I think. They saw something they hadn’t seen in over twenty years—each other. It wasn’t that they hadn’t loved each other in all that time; it was just that they had gotten so neck-deep in life, that they lost touch with their need to outwardly continue fostering their one-on-one relationship with each other. This first date, forced though it may have been, was a sweet reminder to them of how good it is to be alone together.
My parents truly did love each other, and they showed their devotion in other ways, ways that I can only see now as an adult. The ways they supported each other through work, sicknesses, and even severe loss were truly deep expressions of their love for each other. And perhaps it was because of all the hard things they faced in life together that they didn’t really see the need to “go on a date.”
Regardless, celebrating oneness in marriage in both the easy and tough times is important. Even if it’s not necessarily vital for the spouses, it’s important for the children watching. As a child, I couldn’t see those heavier expressions of love that my parents shared. But since I had that experience, I want to make sure I give my kids a clear idea about how important their dad is to me.
So no matter how busy life gets, no matter how many children we have, no matter how long we have been married, I am still going to make an effort to keep dating my husband. There are still things we have yet to learn about each other. There are so many experiences and memories we have to make together. And I want my children to feel secure, knowing that their parents are deeply devoted to each other for life.