The 10 Commandments of Marriage: 3. Make Dates With Your Spouse Lynne’s third commandment suggests ways to get out of the house and get the alone time your relationship needs—without kids! BY LYNNE Z. GOLD-BIKIN
To keep your marriage strong, you need to date your spouse.
One of the primary reasons people get divorced, unlike what we see in the movies, is that they just grow apart. Husband or wife goes to work; the other person either goes to work or cares for the children. They live separate lives and one day look across the table and don’t even know each other any more. Other relationships have developed at work or the gym that appear even closer than the relationship with their own spouse. How did this happen? Where did the years go?
We all have busy lives. Whether the husband or wife works outside the home or one is at home caring for children or an elderly parent, every minute of every day can be committed to just "living." Often the chores in the home are handled like a tag team—one washes dishes while the other puts the children to bed; one cooks dinner while the other helps with the homework. Many times, the stay-at-home parent can’t wait to give the children to the work-outside-the-home parent saying, "I’ve had them all day, now it’s your turn." Couples can pass each other like two ships in the night as they drive children to soccer practice, piano lessons or doctor’s appointments.
Never before have so many children been scheduled in so many activities at so many locations. And the result of all this? Very little private time for the couple.
Many parents feel guilty when they go out without their children or even vacation, albeit briefly without them. Get over it people!
Personal relations can’t wait until the youngest child is out of the house. The relationship cannot survive constantly being pushed aside for other activities. One person may look for attention from other sources and that could be the end of the marriage. So, what does a relationship need?
We have talked before about prioritizing the couple. One way to do this is to make dates and keep them. And, one date is not enough. This should be a regular and ongoing thing. These could be as simple as Wednesday date nights or brunch on Sunday mornings. Perhaps getting a babysitter while you go out for a romantic dinner would be helpful. Or, a babysitter or grandparents could watch the children on a Sunday morning while the couple goes for a champagne brunch. A date should be special and romantic. This does not mean a time when both parents are going to a PTA meeting or watching the children in a soccer game. A date should be something for the couple alone. To put a little spice back into the relationship!
But remember, your regular dates don’t have to be meals at high-priced restaurants. You and your spouse should select a unique experience just for the two of you—whether playing bridge in a duplicate match or even joining a bowling league. Whatever it may be, it is something that the two of you do together for yourselves and your relationship. And, the most important thing about these dates is they are unbreakable. That means that they don’t get pushed aside for business, children, sports or other activities. They are very important, and the way to show your partner that he or she is special is to make those dates and keep them. This is the best way to ensure the relationship doesn’t get broken.
Nationally known family law attorney Lynne Z. Gold-Bikin is chair of the family law practice at Philadelphia-based law firm Weber Gallagher. Ranked one of the top ten divorce attorneys in the U.S. by Worth Magazine, Gold-Bikin is a former chair of the American Bar Association's Section of Family Law, and has more than three decades of experience advising clients on everything from financial matters, prenuptial agreements and divorce, to custody disputes and domestic violence.