“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:
1) Celebrate a monthly anniversary
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.
2) Attend a marriage retreat
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.
3) Give the gift of time
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.
4) Attend a wedding together
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.
5) Pull the plug
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.
6) Walk the block
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.