Keeping the Passion Alive in the marriage
- How to bring passion back to the relationship
- Why most couples stop dating
- The importance of dating your spouse
- Ideas for a great date
Keeping the Passion Alive – One of the biggest mistakes couples make when they get married is to get so caught up in the doing of being married that they forget about just being with each other. In the process, they often forget the fun and spontaneity they had before they were married.
How sad. You should have fun with your spouse. Enjoying each other’s company is part of what brought you together in the first place. This chapter is about how to have a great time with your chosen life partner. You’ll learn why most couples stop creating special times together. And finally we’ll give you tips for dating your spouse.
Would you want to settle for a ho-hum life of working, watching TV, paying the bills, eating, and going to sleep? Probably not. Life just wouldn’t be satisfying if we were to just get by. What we want, what we crave, is passion. Passion for our work, for activi- ties in our down time, and, most importantly, passion for our spouse. Many people describe their relationship by saying, “I think I still love him, but the passion is gone.” Fortunately, this is usually not true, even when it seems to be. The passion is not gone; it just needs to be drawn out.
Many people who say they have passion problems find that they do. It’s amazing how something can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, if you think about the issue in terms of passion obstacles to overcome, it’s much easier to see the light at the end of the tunnel. With a little determination and a lot of practice, you can have more passion in your relationship than you ever thought possible.
Passion is not like a butterfly landing on you if you’re lucky and fleeing at the slight- est breeze. How wonderful that this simply isn’t true. In fact, passion is one area in which you can make a difference right away. You don’t need to wait for a special love potion or some external stimulus to ignite your passion. You can make it happen in an instant.
It Wasn’t Always Like This
Many people get married because they say they have fun together. After they are married for a while, they realize they got married for more valuable reasons: shared values and shared commitment.
It’s very common for married couples to get caught up in the day-to-day grind. There are bills to pay, schedules to arrange, and chores to do. It seems like a waste of energy to plan fun activities with your spouse. It’s easy to assume he or she will be around to grab a bite to eat or to see a movie with you. Creating special “date time” together makes us feel like we’re just adding one more thing to our never ending to-do list.
There are many reasons to make a date with your spouse. First of all, because it’s fun. Everyone deserves to have fun and a break from routines. Second, doing enjoyable things together gives you energy to tackle your responsibilities. And last, every time you do something fun with your spouse, you strengthen your relationship.
Close your eyes and think back to your first date with your spouse. Were you excited? Did you have butter- flies in your stomach? What were you wearing? What was your spouse wearing? Did you go to a nice din- ner and get to know each other? At the end of the evening, did you make plans to get together again? Did you talk about the date with any of your friends?
Once you think about it, you can remember really enjoying going out with your spouse. You looked forward to seeing him or her and talking on the telephone to- gether. Where did all of that fun and excitement go? You can get back the excitement of your first date. How? Read on.
Good Fun Takes Good Planning
What made those first months of dating so much fun? Both of you put a lot of time and energy into the date. You chose an outfit with special care. Sometimes you bought tickets to a special event or ate dinner in a romantic restaurant. You were thoughtful of the other person and presented yourself at your best. You practiced good dating etiquette.
Bring back those skills. All of these things are important even after being married. The forethought as well as the adoring attitude you brought to your dates then can be re- created. The atmosphere of specialness and excitement made them so much fun!
Let’s Do Lunch
Tammy and Jason had been married for two years and were thinking of starting a family. But they were afraid to have children because they felt their marriage was fiz- zling out. They never had much fun together and had lost most of the passion that they had had while they dated and for the first few months of their marriage. Tammy was even worried they might end up getting divorced. She didn’t know what to do.
Tammy finally got up the nerve to talk to us about the problem. At first, Tammy didn’t know what to say, because generally her marriage was going well. She loved Jason and he loved her. After much probing, we couldn’t find a significant problem facing Tammy and Jason. It seemed like they might divorce just for the lack of inter- est. Finally we asked, “What do the two of you do for fun?”
Tammy was surprised by the question. She had never really thought about it before. “Well, we see a movie sometimes, and every now and then we go out to eat. We’re trying to save money for a house and we’ve been cutting down on our entertainment expenses.”
Then we asked Tammy what it was like in the beginning of their relationship when she first dated Jason. Tammy’s eyes sparkled. She talked about how attracted she had been to Jason and how she used to look forward to seeing him. They often went out for dinner and would take walks for their evening entertainment that really gave them the opportunity to have long talks about life and what was important to them.
As she was talking, Tammy smiled. Then we asked, “What is different about how you used to date and what you are doing now?”
Tammy went on to describe how they used to go out every Saturday night. They would often plan the next date a week ahead of time. Tammy would often dress casu- ally, but she always used to spend a lot of time deciding what she wore. She would make sure to match her earrings and necklace to her outfit. She would wash and blow-dry her hair. Sometimes she would even have her nails manicured.
Now she and Jason went out rarely. When they did go out, they never planned ahead of time what they would do. They usually wore jeans and T-shirts wherever they went. Sometimes they would even spend 30 minutes deciding what movie to see but would give up when they couldn’t agree.
Tammy and Jason were depriving themselves of passion. At first, Tammy assumed that not wanting to spend a lot of money was the reason their dates were not very exciting. But when she thought about it, she and Jason had never spent much money before they were married either. What made their dates so exciting before was taking the time to get ready to go out with each other and looking forward to the dates all week. If you make yourself attractive, you’ll feel more attractive and your spouse will be more attracted to you. By planning your evening out ahead of time and getting dressed nicely, you can turn a simple movie into a wonderful, romantic evening together.
We suggested that Tammy and Jason set aside every Saturday night to go out together. We advised them to plan ahead so they wouldn’t waste time on the actual evening deciding what to do. Both of them should change into new clothes before they go out, just like they always did before they were married. Their dates began to feel much more special, and they grew closer to each other than ever before. Tammy has stopped worrying about divorce and feels great about starting a family. Dating really strengthened their marriage and brought back the passion!
Does this scenario sound familiar to you? If so, why not try the advice we gave Tammy and Jason. Set a date night with your spouse and stick to it. Even if it’s something simple, like a walk in the park or a stop for a cappuccino, make it special. And don’t forget to freshen up before you go. Remember, passion is not going to just land on you—you have to make it happen!
Rate Your Date with Your Mate
We’re going to ask you questions about you and your spouse’s dating habits. Take your time and circle your answers on a scale ranging from 1 (never) to 5 (always). By answering these questions thoughtfully and honestly, you’ll have taken the first step to bringing passion and excitement into your married dating life.
Go through your answers. If any of your answers fell in the 1, 2, or 3 range, ask your- self what you would need to do so that you could answer 4 or 5. If you answered 4 or 5 on all the questions, congratulations! You’re already having a great time going out with your spouse.
Put Aside Differences
When you first dated your spouse, you probably weren’t thinking about whether he had washed the dinner dishes before you left or if you would meet the monthly budget. And you certainly didn’t think about his overflowing laundry basket or his forgetting to buy milk at the grocery store. You were probably thinking about the cute dimple on his left cheek and how much you liked the flowers he gave you. Which of those thoughts are more likely to result in an enjoyable evening?
If you carry grudges with you on a date with your spouse, you will guarantee yourself a bad time. Marriage is complicated. The person that you have a lot of fun with is the same person you need to negoti- ate with for your day-to-day needs. You need to tem- porarily put these issues aside to be able to have a good time with your spouse. Discussing your monthly budget while waiting in line to see a movie is not a wise idea. You probably won’t resolve anything about the budget, and you’ll have a rotten time at the movie. But agreeing to put your differences aside for the evening will let you recharge your relationship battery. Then you’ll be able to tackle the budget and other decisions with much greater enthusiasm and a sense of togetherness.
Be Spontaneous, Too
While it’s very important to have regular time to- gether with your spouse, it can also be fun to be completely spontaneous. Just remember that the spontaneous outing together doesn’t substitute for the reliable date. Instead, it’s a wonderful addition to it. That way, marriage can give you the best of both worlds. You can have the reliability of regular dates and the chance to be spontaneous too.
One night after a long day at work, you might come home and say, “We’re not cooking—I want to take you out to dinner!” Or the two of you might be sitting around reading the Sunday paper and read about a na- ture hike that looks fun. Don’t just say, “That looks fun!” Actually grab your calendar and write it in! Even when you do very small activities spontaneously, such as going out to a Sunday breakfast together, you will benefit from breaking the routine.
If something is bothering you before you go out with your spouse, write it down on a piece of paper and resolve to discuss it in the next day or two. That will help you leave the issue at home, and you’ll have a better time on your date.
The Spice Rack
Think of ways to surprise your mate. It seems cliché to stick
a love note in your spouse’s pocket, but if you’ve ever re- ceived one, you know how they make you smile.
Hot Date Ideas
Some great dates are free, and others cost more than your weekly dating budget. If there is something the two of you want to do that exceeds your budget, all you have to do is plan for it. Let’s say that you have a budget of $25 a week for your dates and there is a beautiful romantic restaurant you have always wanted to try that will prob- ably cost $100 for the meal. You’ve always pushed aside the idea of going there. But you can get there and stay within your budget. All you have to do is be creative and go on three dates without spending any money, and then you will have your $100.
The Free Date
Use your imagination. There are so many things you can do that are fun and cost no money. Maybe you can drive somewhere special to watch a sunset. Depending on where you live, that could be the ocean, a lake, the mountains, the top of a tall build- ing, or the middle of an open field. In the summer, you can pack a picnic dinner. Spread out a large blanket under a tree in a local park and sit and eat and talk. You can also invite some friends over for dessert and coffee and have the chance to catch up with people you haven’t seen in a while. Or you could stay home, turn down the lights in your living room, and dance to music you enjoy. You can have a great time while saving for that very special expensive date.
Remember that some of the best things in life are free:
➤ Watching the sunrise
➤ Taking a walk
➤ Eating lunch under a tree
➤ Talking with each other
➤ Dancing to music in your home ➤ Smiling at each other
➤ Telling jokes
➤ Playing a card game
➤ Spending the evening with friends ➤ Watching the sunset
The Medium-Price Date
Most of your weekly dates with your spouse will cost some money. You’ll probably go to a movie or out to dinner. But there are ways to jazz up even your average evening. Maybe instead of going out to dinner at a moderately priced restaurant, you could have dessert at a romantic, expensive restau- rant. It would give you the chance to get dressed up and have a quiet, romantic evening without putting a big dent in your pocketbook. You could see a matinee instead of an evening movie, and with the money you saved you could have an inexpensive dinner. Or put the money aside to add to a future date.
The Expensive Date
Plan way ahead. You should relish every moment of this special experience. Anti- cipation is half the fun! Make sure you have reservations for a busy restaurant or spe- cial event. It would be a shame to save money for a play or concert and not be able to get tickets for it. By planning ahead, you won’t be disappointed. And you will have more time to re-budget your dating money.
Try to make the evening as special as possible. Take extra care when choosing the outfit you will wear. Give yourselves plenty of time to arrive promptly. It would be a shame to feel rushed and stressed wondering if you will arrive on time. Do every- thing you can to ensure that the evening will go as smoothly as possible.
But, even though you should do your best to create a wonderful evening, don’t put pressure on yourselves to have the perfect date when you are spending a lot of money. You might end up being disappointed. An expensive restaurant might not have the greatest food. Or one of you might have a bad cold on the night you had theater tickets. You just have to roll with the punches and hope things will work out better next time.
One of the nicest ways to renew your relationship is to spend time together away from the day-to-day routine. It’s easier to focus on each other when you’re in a new place that doesn’t remind you of the chores that need doing or the bills that need paying. Going away together will also create good memories the two of you will always have.
The type of vacation you plan together will vary de- pending on money and time constraints. You might have some wonderful ideas for expensive vacations that you would like to take with your spouse. It’s possible that with careful planning you will be able to go on that trip.
But don’t let the fact that you can’t spend a month at a villa in Greece keep you from going away with your spouse. You can have great fun on a “free date” with each other, and you can have a memorable getaway for very little money, too. Remember, even one night away can be refreshing. Go away for a shorter time to stay within your budget. Or prepare some of your meals instead of eating out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you can’t afford a hotel at all, find out when out-of-town friends are going on vacation and offer to house-sit for them.
Plan on going away overnight at least twice a year with your spouse. It will be one of the most enjoyable ways to keep passion in your marriage.
Take the fun date list of ideas and start planning. Mark dates and times on your cal- endar right away to make sure time doesn’t slip by. Remember, your goal is to keep the passion alive in your relationship. As we said, good fun takes good planning, so get started now. Have fun!