How to say “I do” every day

14 ways to perk up your marriage

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By Tammy Darling


“A successful marriage,” Mignon McLaughlin once said, “requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” If you’ve ever gone a month without spending any real quality time with your spouse, you know how negatively it can affect your marriage. All relationships need to be nurtured, and none more so than our relationship with our spouse.

 
Marriage was created to give people companionship. “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him” (Genesis 2:18). Successful Christian marriages may be best seen as a triangle, with God at the top and each partner at the lower corners. The closer we draw to God, the closer we’ll be to each other.

Marriage is not a “done deal” at the altar; it’s a continuous, daily “I do.” As the French actress Simone Signoret said, “Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years.” Though it may seem impossible to spend quality time alone with your spouse, it can be done. It just takes a little planning and creativity. The following ideas can get you started:


Each month on the same date you were married, get a babysitter for the kids and go out on the town. Dinner, a concert, or even simple inexpensive or free dates, such as miniature golf, a picnic in the park, or ice-skating, can do a lot to keep the flame burning. You’re not likely to forget the reason you got married when you’re both celebrating it monthly.


Held year-round throughout the country, usually on weekends, these retreats often include marriage/inspirational speakers, beautiful scenery, good food, activities, and plenty of time to be alone with your spouse.


Surprise your mate from time to time by arranging childcare for the kids and giving your spouse the gift of time. Reschedule a meeting to spend extra time together. On weekends, forgo a favorite activity to spend the time with your mate instead. A gift of time speaks volumes and can do a lot to strengthen your marriage.


The occasion to attend at least one wedding per year is sure to arise, so don’t miss out. As you attend the wedding with your spouse, discreetly exchange your rings and silently renew your vows together while holding hands as the bride and groom say their vows. My husband and I recently attended a very moving wedding ceremony, and although we didn’t plan it, as we held hands we both silently renewed our own vows to one another. It’s a great reminder of the marriage covenant and of all the reasons you got married in the first place.


Once the kids are in bed, resist the urge to crash on the couch in front of the TV. Studies show that couples who watch an above-average amount of TV are 26 percent less satisfied with their relationships than couples who watch less than the average amount. Instead, put on a music CD and snuggle together.


Each evening after the supper dishes have been cleared away, take a walk (or two) around the block. This works especially well if you have children old enough to spend brief periods at home without supervision or who are mature and responsible enough to look after younger siblings. The evening walks are not only invigorating but also allow for good, private conversations.
 
7) Schedule a weekend getaway
Each year, make it a tradition to get away for a weekend alone with your spouse. Schedule a specific weekend just for the two of you, and don’t change it for any other event. Keeping the timing the same each year makes it easier on everyone; it’s not only expected, it gives you and your spouse something to look forward to.


After the kids are in bed, light some candles and spend some time reading to one another. If one spouse doesn’t like to read, the other can be the designated reader. Take time to discuss the readings — select a title about marriage and spousal relationships.


Don’t overlook those small blocks of time that you can spend with your spouse. I purposefully schedule my monthly chiropractor appointments (which are a few minutes away from my husband’s workplace) just before noon so that when I’m done, I can pick up my husband and we can have a nice 30- to 45-minute lunch together. These small snatches of time really do add up to a closer, more intimate relationship.


If possible, return to your childhood towns — if not physically, then mentally. Talk about the streets you walked, the homes you lived in, the schools you attended, the playgrounds you played at, the friends you had, etc. Our family lives in my husband’s childhood home, so childhood memories are a frequent topic of discussion. Knowing about my husband’s childhood has helped me to know him better.


Make your bedroom “off-limits” to kids’ stuff. Instead, fill the room with pictures of you and your partner, pre-kids, to help remind you of how you fell in love. Keep the room clutter-free, as having toys underfoot just isn’t conducive to romance. Place scented candles and flowers throughout the room, and leave each other love notes under the pillows or sheets.


When the kids are away at a sleepover, pack a breakfast picnic and watch a sunrise together. My husband and I did this one April morning at a dam overlooking a large lake, and it was breathtaking.


Once a week, feed the kids an early, simple, but fun dinner. Then send them off to another room to watch an approved movie of their choice. Along with your spouse, prepare a romantic dinner for the two of you. Listen to classical music, dim the lights, and light the candles. It’s so relaxing to have a quiet, uninterrupted meal — especially in the middle of a hectic workweek.


Buy season tickets to his favorite sporting event, symphony, or theater. This ensures many pre-packaged dates where the two of you are together, and since neither will want the tickets to go to waste, these dates aren’t easily canceled. The dates are set well in advance so schedules can be worked around with little effort.

How often we let life pass by without really living. Since your spouse is the person you’ll spend the rest of your life with, it makes sense to invest in your marriage now. Commit today to spending more one-on-one time with your spouse — you won’t regret it!  CD

 

Tammy Darling

Reprinted with permission. Tammy Darling has had more than 600 articles published. She writes from her home in Three Springs, Pennsylvania, where she also home-schools her daughters.