We’re in the middle of year 5 of marriage. We are just at the beginning of the years we will spend as husband and wife, but there is something that I read the month before we got married that has proven to be the best piece of marriage advice. It was in a newsletter by a photographer in Canada that I follow, Matt Kennedy.
It wasn’t the standard “Don’t go to bed angry” or “Always kiss each other goodnight” or even “Be the first to apologize”.
It was simple. It was easy to remember. And we absolutely think that it is something that has strengthened our marriage.
“Every Week, Go on a coffee date. Every Month, go on a dinner date. Every Year, go on vacation together.”
Now, before you protest and tell me that you hate coffee, dinner, and vacation, we can make some substitutions. But here’s the general idea & why we absolutely are #1 fans of this.
“Every Week, Go Out for Coffee.”
Instead of coffee, sometimes we go for ice cream. Or happy hour. Or donuts. But the idea is that weekly, you are doing something with your spouse. It doesn’t have to be for hours and hours, because some weeks don’t allow that. But it’s an intentional time each week where it’s JUST THE TWO OF YOU. A coffee date is normally about an hour + some drive time. But it gives some space for you to be alone and to be present. Sometimes you have to set aside the time for important things, like an appointment. It might not feel romantic to have to schedule time each week to be with your spouse. Oh, but it is. It is so romantic & gives you something to look forward to!
…BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?
Well, if you don’t have a baby sitter, maybe drink coffee during nap time downstairs cuddled up on you couch. Or make root beer floats after the kids are in bed. Or take an hour to eat pizza on your kitchen floor in the middle of the night. All you need to do is make some time to be together.
Because you know what it does for our marriage? It brings us back. Right to the hand holding or the laughing or the memories of why we love each other. It’s not that we forget during the week, but sometimes during trips to the grocery store and paying the bills, life doesn’t always feel like it’s full of romance and joy. And it might not be. So this is a weekly reset. Get back to the simple things. Like conversation. Like cups of hot coffee. Like cold bowls of ice cream. Or slices of cheesy pizza. Hold hands. Make eye contact. Quit drinking your coffee and make out. Whatever it is, give yourself some time to be together. Just the two of you.
“Every Month, Go Out to Dinner”
This. SO SO SO Good. Sometimes, we go to expensive restaurants and order steak & seafood. Other times we go to Chipotle & order burritos with guacamole. It’s not so much about where you go, or what you eat. It’s about taking a night off, to be together.
I think there is something that happens when you prepare for a date. When it’s not spontaneous, but you take time to pick your outfit, get dressed up, do your makeup, and go out with your spouse. It feels special. You anticipate it. You look forward to it all week or sometimes all month. Multiple hours together. Uninterrupted.
Maybe there are flowers given. Maybe there is a photo taken. Maybe there is red lipstick or slacks instead of jeans. Maybe there is hand holding in the car. Or dessert ordered. Or a blanket is packed & you eat your favorite takeout in a park down the street!
Whatever it is, once a month, you are going to need a night.
A WHOLE NIGHT.
JUST THE TWO OF YOU.
Because giving yourself some time to be together, to communicate, to enjoy life together is necessary. Sometimes we end up laughing the whole time, and other times we have to communicate through some hard things. Either way the outcome is good. Communication needs space. It needs time to happen. It sometimes needs a place where you are out of the house. Out of the familiar surroundings. Where the things you need to do aren’t right in front of you. But the only thing that’s in front of you is fettuccini & your spouse.
…BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN???
Well, chances are you have a friend, or sister, or brother who also has a spouse & some children. And they ALSO need a date night. So do a trade. Switch off so you both can enjoy this. Or spend some $$ on a babysitter. Or bribe your parents.
But it’s worth it. Let me tell you. It’s so worth it.
Oh, also. Make out.
“Ever Year, Go On Vacation.”
We’ve done this since being married. A trip, just the two of us. And it’s SO fun to get away. To have adventures. To explore new cities. Or to be a tourist in your own city.
I think the most important part is to get out of your home. Go somewhere that the beds are made for you. Or that is right across the street from a coffee shop. Or a beautiful campsite in the mountains. Or by a beach. Someplace only 1 hour away, or someplace that requires an airplane. Either way, GET AWAY.
Whatever your style of vacation is, go there. At least for a night and two days. But more if you can afford it. We’ve taken nightly trips to Bellevue, just an hour away and bought hotel rooms on Priceline. We’ve also taken weekend trips to Portland. Or trips to Maui & Cabo. We even took a 12 day trip to Ireland once – and saved up for a whole year for it. BUT IT WAS WORTH EVERY SINGLE PENNY. EVERY SINGLE ONE.
But the thing is this. Getting away and unplugging from your “normal”, from the routines, from the chores. IT’S GOOD.
You will be happier. You will connect more. You will probably have a lot more sex. Good. You probably needed to. You will talk more. And hold hands more. And kiss in public more. And take pictures. And make memories. And make each other laugh. And try new foods. Explore new things. Dress up. Wear your bathing suit all day. Stay in bed until noon. Stay up late. Drink champagne. Eat chips & guac for lunch. Make all of the memories.
You made it through a whole year. You deserve a vacation.
In a society where almost half of all marriages don’t survive, it’s good to celebrate the fact that you are. You are killin’ this marriage thing. Even when you don’t feel like it. Even when you drive each other crazy. Or you miscommunicate. Being intentional about your time together, about investing into your marriage, about making time to laugh and relax. Those are things that help a marriage thrive. Those are things that help your children. When you show them that marriage is fun, and marriage is full of good things and time together, you are setting such a good example. Your children want to see mom & dad holding hands. They want to see you laughing, joking, playing, relaxing. They want to see a real life example of marriage that is healthy, that is fun, that is real.
So, take some time to celebrate.
Weekly. Monthly. Yearly.