How to Divorce-Proof Your Marriage

iStock-880133908Do you remember when you were dating (or courting) your spouse? Did you plan time to be together and make every effort to learn more about each other? I’m sure you did! The question is: are you investing in your marriage the same way you did before you said, “I do”?

As the years go by, many couples begin to spend less and less time together. Instead of prioritizing their marriage relationship, other things hold their interest. And, this is when things become dangerous.

When we no longer nurture our marriage, we allow other people or things to capture our heart. Our marriage no longer seems as important as it did on the day we made those solemn vows before God – and before we know it, our marriage is in trouble.

Thankfully, this is not my story. My wife Kim and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary in November. For the two of us, we have intentionally prioritized our time with one another. Date night has been a staple of our relationship. Out of 52 weeks in the year, with a date a week, we probably only miss three or four date nights.

The Importance of Date Night

Date night is incredibly important for married couples. Just as you dated during your courtship to spend time together, you should continue dating to spend time alone together after you are married. Don’t let the romance disappear!

As believers, our understanding of marriage comes from the Bible. We can learn much about what our marriages should look like just by reading the Word. For example, let’s look at Ephesians 5:25-32.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.”

Marriage is holy, and we are to treat it as such. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church – a powerful command and one we should not take lightly. This passage also reminds us that we are one with our spouse. We are to love and care for our spouse as if they are a part of us (because they are).

So, what does this have to do with date night? Quite a bit! A husband who loves and cares for his wife prioritizes spending time with her. He understands dates are opportunities to spend time growing close and showing her love. In return, this will make her feel secure in his love and his leadership in the home.

Never Stop Courting Your Spouse

It’s easy to fall into a rut when you have been married for a few years. You can let the romance fade, and date nights can turn from regular events to things that happen few and far between. Don’t let this happen to you. It is possible and easy to let date night become less of a priority as your life changes – and be prepared to fight against this temptation.

Instead, make an agreement with your spouse and God never to stop courting. Plan to have regular date nights and to continue to pursue your spouse. Date night is a special time when you and your spouse should purposely connect.

For Kimberly and me, we take turns planning our date nights. When it’s my turn to plan the date, I think about what she likes to do, and when it’s her turn to plan, she always thinks about what I like to do.

Date Night Ideas

Over the last twenty-five years, we’ve had many unique date nights! One time, Kimberly wanted to learn cake decorating, so I planned a series of dates at a weekly cake decorating class. Please don’t tell her, but since I was the only man in the class, I was clearly the teacher’s pet!

She knows my love for flying, and money was tight, so I had not been flying for a very long time. She saved and saved little bits here and there until she had enough to schedule time in a plane with an instructor. I was blown away.

Kimberly was reminiscing in casual conversation during one date night about a pottery class she took in middle school. As you can imagine, that was another series of date nights for us: pottery classes. I was the teacher’s pet there too.

I don’t like the beach much during the day. It’s usually just too hot for me, but at night, I love it. Kimberly put together a beautiful picnic basket full of my favorite food, and we spent hours talking, walking, and well, I’ll just leave it there.

I can’t forget the pedicure date night! I am extremely ticklish. It’s really embarrassing to be a 46-year-old man and giggle when the doctor does an EKG or listens to my lungs. But, my wife loves pedicures. I thought, how bad could it be? I set the whole thing up following a romantic dinner. I giggled through the whole thing, and I refused to let them paint my nails. I thought I would lose my man-card! She loved it, but my three boys (real men’s men) found out that their dad got a pedicure, and I still haven’t lived that down!

Kimberly hates museums, but for me, she planned a date day at the Cradle of Aviation Museum. It was amazing! Did I say I love to fly?

If you know anything about my wife, she loves chocolate! On one of our anniversary date nights, I planned a chocolate night. I let the restaurant know what I was doing, and they worked chocolate into everything, and I mean everything! I honestly can’t remember the different dishes, but it was incredible! I do remember the chocolate souffle - unbelievable! Grandma and grandpa kept the kids for the night, and we ended with the movie Chocolat at home. Can anyone say, “Major chick-flick?”

One couple we counseled recently mentioned how she took her husband to Home Depot for a date night.

Ballroom dancing lessons were another one of our adventures, and for a man that can’t even clap on beat, I was a disaster, but she didn’t think so. She loved every minute of it.

Stop the Excuses and Prioritize Time with Your Spouse

Here’s the truth – regular date nights will take time, effort, and planning. But, it will be well worth it! Often, people will say they don’t have money or babysitters or time. Your dates do not have to be expensive or complicated, but they should be enjoyable. If you have kids, plan babysitting date night swaps with another married couple. Both couples benefit! It shows your children how important marriage is. My oldest is now married, and I’m very proud to say date night is a priority in their home now too.

Plan date nights that are fun, different, and unique. Avoid doing the same thing each week. In fact, date night planning gives you the chance to think selflessly. What would your spouse love to do? If you don’t know, ask. Get to know the person you’re married to. You could have a planning date night.

When Jesus Christ walked on earth, he made sure people felt known and loved. When it comes to marriage, one of the best ways we can make our spouse feel known and loved is to prioritize the time we spend with them. They will know they are treasured by the way we value our time with them.