Picture this: You’re in high school, 16 years old, and you finally get asked out by the guy you have been crushing on for months. Just the simple fact that he notices you is enough to give you butterflies, and now you get to be “his”.
The dating begins and lasts through college. You go on adventures together, experience life together, and are always trying new things. You’ve never had more fun in your life, and you know this is the person you want to be with. When you both graduate he proposes to you on top of a mountain and 6 months later you get married.
You’re married, and over time those activities begin to slow down. Bills start, jobs begin, and life begins. It’s crippling. Instead of viewing this as the next big adventure it feels suffocating. The fun, zeal, and excitement in the relationship is gone, and replaced by insecurities, fear, and doubt.
According to Bentley University, and new Pew Research, 25% of millennials will never get married. They state that “marriage has lost much of its social allure.” People see dating as alluring, and marriage as monotonous. More of a hinderance than a propulsion. So what happens? What causes the drastic switch between dating and marriage?
If dating wasn’t such an exciting and good experience, people wouldn’t do it. But so many people date, and dating is the very thing that leads to marriage. Dating someone is what makes people believe that they found the person they want to commit their life to. Dating sounds like a really good thing, so why does marriage then sound so daunting and monotonous?
There are so many very deep rooted issues, but I am just going to touch on the surface of one of those that I think plays a huge role in marriage being “boring”. We simply stop dating our spouses. We stop enjoying life with them like we did before. The anticipation of being with one another turns into the expectation. The gratitude for the sweet gestures turns into the disappointment when things aren’t done. The excitement of experiencing new things together turns into doing the same things together all the time. Life becomes too normal and comfortable. We don’t continue to try to impress and woo them because we already have them.
Trust me, I get it. I met my husband at 18, left my life in Orlando, and was married to him by 20. Marriage is hard, and life is busy. Those small moments seem few and far between sometimes, and especially with children, it seems like you were only the two of you a lifetime ago. Bring it back though. Bring it back to the beginning when everything was just as you dreamed. When all felt right in the world. Become best friends again.
Marriage should be the ultimate date. The small moments of anticipation, the sweet touches, the intentionality, the desire to know one another, and the persistence.
So at the risk of sounding cheesy, here are a few things to implement in order to bring life back into marriage. Ways to be intentional when it feels pretty impossible.
- Have a couple things that you do together that you don’t do on your own: We all have our different interests, and that’s so important. It’s also great to share those interests with our spouses, and enter into that with them. However, I can bet that a lot of time, when a couple does an activity together it is because one person wants to, and because the other one loves them and compromises. Choose 2 specific activities to do together that you wouldn’t just go do on your own.
Ex. Josiah and I just recently started playing tennis and rock climbingtogeyher: Nothing either of us really did before, and now they are our things to do when we need time together. Things we both enjoy and find fulfillment in. It’s like how teammates connect sometimes because they both love the game they are playing together. Find something you both can connect over again. Something you can have fun playing together.
- Have consistent alone time: Sometimes weekly date nights aren’t possible. Whether it is lack of childcare, money, or simply just energy, it doesn’t always happen. However, I think that what is more important is having alone time to connect every single day. Whether it is 20 minutes in the morning over a cup of coffee, or coming together at the end of the day and rehashing your days together. It’s the constant nurturing. The daily attention that helps good things grow.
Don’t get me wrong, I love date nights, and think those are so important. But, if I am desperately needing a date night, because we feel so disconnected, there probably wasn’t enough intention and attention given daily throughout the past few weeks. Disconnection doesn’t happen over night. It’s little by little, day by day.
- Fill up one another’s buckets: I read an incredible book by Brene Brown, called Daring Greatly. In one part of her book she touches on marriage, and talks about how everything we do for or to our spouse either puts a stone in our bucket or takes one away. The bucket is of trust. Every single thing we do either builds or breaks trust. Whether we recognize that or not. Because it happens so slowly.
If Josiah doesn’t take the trash out when he told me he would, it takes a stone out. After 6 months of small things like that, I’m about 100 stones short of what it should be. But on the flip side, every time I walk into the kitchen and dishes are done, or our bed is made, I feel so loved and a stone is added. Little by little, stone by stone, action by action, we can make a difference. One way or another.
- Turn the TV off: Set aside 2 nights a week where you can’t turn the TV on, and you instead have to do something else together. We did this for awhile, and it was so much fun. We would play games, bake, and just hangout together. Instead of getting lost in the entertainment of technology, we relied on one another. Play games together. If one of you says you don’t like games, you probably just haven’t found the right one. That’s like saying you don’t like food. There are way too many different kinds and varieties to say you don’t like them at all.
- Do the everyday together: Find ways to incorporate one another into the everyday tasks. Don’t leave all the housework to mom, while dad does all of the yard work. Enter into those things together. Work together. Enjoy time together while doing the things that have to be done. Couples that do laundry together stay together.
- Invest in one another: For every couple that is going to mean something different. For some it may mean going on a trip together, and for others it may simply mean going to their favorite restaurant. But find out one another’s currency, the things that they truly value in life, and pour into that. It doesn’t have to be in big elaborate ways, but instead just taking note about what they love, and giving that to them. Being thoughtful and intentional goes a long way.
- Be goofy: Again, this looks very different for every couple because you still want to be you. Maybe have a dance party in the living room, or watch a stupid comedy together. Find something that makes both of you drop your inhibitions and just laugh together. It may feel uncomfortable or weird at first, but that’s just because you have a layer that has to fall off before you can really enjoy the freedom of this. Life is too hard to be serious all of the time, so we have to fight that with laughter sometimes.
None of these are huge. And none of these take a lot of time. These are things that I feel like if we begin doing (if not already) with one another, it will bring so much life back into marriage. Change that idea that dating is fun and marriage is just a scary commitment. Marriage is so beautiful, fun, life giving, and wondrous, we just have to water it and let it grow.
Now tell me, what are your thoughts on marriage? Do you think it really has that bad reputation? What do you think changes that?