Tuesday, March 11

Investing in Family Part One

There is always so much drama and negativity regarding relationships and marriage in the culture surrounding us, isn't there? I live in NY state and our governor has been all over the news these last few days for betraying his marriage and his leadership position. Tonight at a favorite thrift store three individuals working there, none of them over 35, were all discussing their divorces. As a Christian, I want to do everything I can to encourage married couples and families. These are two subjects I am passionate about and so you can expect to see posts on this topic for the next week.

Tonight would have been our date night but instead we enjoyed a family night at a local Indian restaurant. In their lessons this year, the kids learned about India and we have wanted to take them to sample the food of the culture for a while now. It was a lovely evening.
Speaking of date night, I want to take a bit of time to encourage couples to spend time alone with one another, building into and strengthening your relationship.
Now, I've heard the argument that dating your spouse isn't Biblical (cough, cough) or that it isn't necessary and so on. I don't buy any of it!

1.) Is it necessary to "date" your spouse?
I believe it is. Whether this means you settle together on the sofa after the kids are in bed to talk, go out for coffee, or wander around Lowes looking for deals, yes, married dates are a wonderful idea. I am obviously coming from this from the standpoint of a woman, and so I'll leave the man's viewpoint for more qualified men out there in blog-land. (Any takers? Let me know and I'll link to your post. I love to hear about men wooing their wives and investing time in their marriage relationships!)
2.) What is the purpose of a married date?
Our family began as a marriage between the two of us, just Sean and Hannah. Our individual relationships with God are the foundation for our marriage and our marriage is the foundation of our home and family. If we neglect either of these two key foundational ingredients, the stability of our home will be compromised.
The purpose of a married date is to invest time and energy into our relationship without distraction. This, by no means at all, gives me permission to neglect our relationship at other times, leaving the investment part only for date nights. I've mentioned before how we honor Sean in our home and this is one way I invest in our relationship on a practical level every day.
3.) But what about the costs involved?
The costs can be non-existent if you like or if your budget requires.
For me, date night begins before Sean gets home from work. The house is tidied, whether we're going out or if I have something special planned for after the kids are in bed.
I check my appearance. Remember, men are visual. Don't grumble about it. It is the way God created them. Is my hair and makeup nice? Is there kid stuff on my shoulder? Can I change into an outfit that I know he likes on me? Our girls love watching me glam up and put on pretty shoes. I think its the whole princess/knight in shining armor thing to them.
Once your children are in bed, turn on some music, light a candle on the table and pull out a deck of cards, some good chocolate and a cup of coffee. Talk. Eat. Smooch. Viola. Free date.
How about exchanging babysitting services with another like minded couple once a month? You watch their kiddos, they'll spend an evening enjoying yours?
We do go out and pay a regular, trusted babysitter for watching our children. I could be offended because they ask for her, beg for her to come over. "Is it date night?" they'll ask with hopeful eyes. To them date night means Danielle, a DVD and macaroni and cheese for dinner. Three wonderful kids things. They love it! No one is neglected because Mama and Papa turn into just Sean and Hannah for a few quiet hours.
(As a side note, if I do have a breastfeeding infant, as I often do, they come with us. It has always worked out fine.)
Date nights allow us time to talk about situations with the business, practical and spiritual matters regarding our children, hopes and dreams for the future, what God is speaking to us as individuals and as a couple, and everyday practical life and house stuff that comes up.

I've read about and heard many couples regretfully talk about not investing in their relationship and this definitely motivates me to value ours. Once their children were grown and the house was empty, they were left looking at a stranger, thinking, "Who is this person I've lived with for the last twenty years?" So focused were they only on their children/careers/etc.

I highly recommend the HomeBuilders series of studies put out by Family Life Today. I am not paid in any way to promote them (I wish!), but Sean and I have been blessed to attend one of their marriage conferences and host a study in our home. Everyone had a great time and marriages all around were strengthened for God's glory. Something to think about doing, for sure. We're looking forward to doing another group post baby arrival.


9 comments:

Jillian said...

Hannah,

I am always intrigued by/interested in your posts. This one really hit home with me tonight. I am not a very religious person, but am always looking for ways to strenghten my relationship with my husband.

I hear SO OFTEN at work or out and about the negativity with regard to marriage that you talk about in this post. It always bothers me because, as a newly married couple, so many just think marriages all are unhappy, confining, and miserable and these people have no reservations voicing these ideas.

It really is refreshing to hear optimism (and suggestions) from someone so dedicated to their marriage. Thanks for the great post!

Anonymous said...

Hannah,
What a great post. I love date night with my husband.
Since we moved to Ohio we have not had a date night since we don't know anyone to watch the kids, yet! I cherish the time I get with him since four boys are vying for his attention when he gets home from work. Thanks for reminding me that I need to find time with my hubby.

Carrie said...

Hello Hannah,

I don't usually comment on your blog but, today, I am giving this post a hearty AMEN!

My husband and I were mentored early on in our marriage with a Homebuilders group. We were in it for 6 years and it changed our marriage life!

God Bless you as the Lord builds your home...

Carrie

Hannah said...

Hi Jillian, so glad you left your comment and stopped by. I think that no matter what stage our relationship with God is at, we can all benefit from investing in our marriages. I think we can all agree that society as a whole has pretty much been crippled by the falling apart of marriages and homes.
I really enjoyed your comment, thank you!
Anonymous,we know how frustrating it can be not to have a babysitter. We went through a few years without one and so I know how important home dates can be. Hope you find someone reliable and trusted soon!
Carrie, so good to hear someone that has been blessed by the Homebuilders series!
Blessings,
Hannah

Lynn said...

Hannah,

I certainly agree with you on men being visual, and I believe in "fixing up" for my husband.

We're going on 21 married years.

We both went into marriage with the feeling that getting out of it was not an option. I think it's terrible the way media and society convey the idea that if it doesn't work and if it becomes inconvenient, you simply divorce. How sad.

Lynn

Brandy said...

Hannah,
My in-laws speak for Family Life Marriage Conferences, so my husband and I have been blessed to attend a few of them. They truly are wonderful for couples to attend and well worth the money! Thank you for speaking of HomeBuilders on your blog too, I have heard wonderful things about this series as well.

Also, we practice date nights at least 2 times a month, and I am a strong believer that every couple needs them!! Amen on your post today. I am also passionate about marriages succeeding in our society today.

Chinamama4 said...

Hannah, I can't imagine any "Biblical" arguments against "dating" your spouse - would you mind elaborating?
We, too, do our best to have a date night once a month to reconnect! We always have a wonderful time together, and we think it's good for our girls to see that we place a priority on our marriage relationship.

Hannah said...

ChinaMama, I can't imagine or think of any texts in the Bible discouraging dating your spouse either. It is a statement, I believe meant to be argumentative, that I read on another site.
Blessings,
Hannah

Jack's Mommy said...

i'm alllll for dating our hubbies. we use to have a thursday date night but its gotten pushed a little to the wayside right now since the pregnancy :(

...also sometimes my own husband doesn't seem to *understand* me when I talk about wanting to still be his girlfriend. he seems to have the huge split thinking that girlfriends and wives are completely different. not that his opinion is bad (he treats me wonderfully actually) - but it's just a huge area where we differ in our opinion of "maintaining marriage"....like, i believe some things should remain private such as using the restroom - whereas he gets upset if "his wife" doesn't feel comfortable with him barging in at any moment..why? "because your my WIFE!" he says rationally (with a bit of confusion thrown in). I counter with "but you wouldn't want to see a romantic girlfriend in this situation!!"... "but you're MY WIFE!" he adds again, looking at me like i'm a cukoo. As if that makes me feel any better whilst sitting there, embarrassingly exposed in front of someone i want to look beautiful for, on the toilet. :) *sigh*

so anyway - great post!!! i agree wholeheartedly.