Remember date nights? I actually ended up marrying my high school sweetheart, Jeff, so I truly don’t remember life without him. But, there were several years when our daughters were toddlers that we certainly didn’t feel like sweethearts. We were more like two people who lived in the same house, and eventually collapsed in bed next to each other—sometimes with two toddlers and a dog between us.Sound familiar? Thankfully, I was part of a bible study for young marrieds and new moms during that season of my life where I learned something vital every week. One such lesson was this—never stop dating your husband. Make time for him, apart from the children, and keep the romance alive. I remember sitting in that bible study and wondering how I could possibly find time to date my husband when we barely had time to do anything except the absolutely necessary household tasks and child-rearing duties. Our lives had become so busy with work and raising our little girls that we’d sort of lost sight of everything else. We were just going through the motions of life, mumbling “I love you” before drifting off to sleep at night. I truly wanted to date my husband again, so I talked to my wonderful mama about our situation, and she happily volunteered to babysit for us once a week so that Jeff and I could have a date. Sometimes our date night consisted of going to the movies, holding hands, and sharing a large box of Junior Mints. Other times, our date night was simply cuddling on the couch and catching up on our favorite TV shows. Still other times, we spent our date night at a local bookstore, drinking coffee, (I don’t like coffee, so I was drinking hot chocolate, of course), reading magazines, and being adults in love. No matter what we did, we looked so forward to that time together each week. I truly believe that because we did make an effort to keep the romance alive as we parented our children, that when our girls both left for college, and we were back to just the two of us, we transitioned much more easily than many couples do.

I remember right after the girls left and it was just the two of us at breakfast, I looked across the table at him and said, “Now what?” halfway joking, but halfway nervous about the next chapter. Without missing a beat, Jeff shot me a mischievous grin and said, “Now I get you all to myself again.” We’ve been dating each other like teenagers ever since, but it all started because we decided to make time for one another early on.I encourage you to do the same. Even if it just means putting your children to bed earlier than usual one night a week and reserving that time for just you and your spouse to reconnect. Make the investment in your marriage. The payoff is huge! You don’t have to spend lots of money on your date nights. If money is tight, rent a free movie from your local library; pop some microwave popcorn; and cuddle on the couch. Or, if you have a willing grandparent or aunt who wants to babysit for free, pack a picnic and a blanket, download your favorite music on your iPhone, and enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors. Dinner and dancing under the stars could be just that break from the mundane that you both need to rekindle the romance.Here’s the thing. If you and your spouse keep your relationship thriving, you’ll have a happier home, and your children will grow up in a healthy environment. So, go ahead. Plan a date with your spouse, and make a big deal about it. Leave little “countdown to our date” notes in your spouse’s briefcase or in his vehicle. Act like you’re 16 again, and let the romance begin…

“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other…” 1 Peter 4:8 (NLT)

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