Over time we get comfortable in our relationships and forget how much fun we had with our spouse while dating. We fail to remember that, the same things that attracted us to our partners, may be the very things that perk up the relationship. I often encourage the couples I see for counseling, to start dating one another again.
Why Date Your Spouse?
Dating your partner gives your relationship priority, enhances your connection, and provides opportunities for more intimacy and passion.
Life is full of responsibilities. In many families both spouses work full-time. The marriage relationship can easily get buried under work responsibilities, household chores, children’s activities, and the endless duties of managing a family. However, without a well-functioning marriage, the whole system is in jeopardy. Therefore, giving this relationship priority is essential to the survival of the family. Dating your partner conveys a message of importance and respect for the relationship. It also creates a culture within the family that prioritizes the marriage relationship as valuable; worthy of attention and care.
Many couples enter counseling with complaints of not feeling close to their spouse anymore, feeling like roommates, living separate lives, or that the intimacy and passion has gone. A loss of connection with your spouse can cause these feelings. Relationship researcher and psychologist, John Gottman suggests, these couples “may be missing a deeper sense of shared meaning”. Some aspects of connection or shared meaning include:
- “creating an inner life” together
- appreciation for your roles and goals that link you, that lead you to understand what it means to be a part of the family you have become
- developing a culture together that incorporates both of your dreams, and that is flexible enough to change as husband and wife grow and develop”.
Many things can occur in a relationship to cause a loss of connection with your spouse (child birth, miscarriage, financial trouble, communication issues, infidelity, etc.). These things may require the assistance of a professional counselor, to help you through. However, couples who build and nurture their connection are able to handle difficulty and life adversity, better than if their connection is weak, or nonexistent. This is why dating your spouse is important.
Dating allows you the one-on-one time to ‘learn’ one another, share likes and dislikes, and discuss hopes and dreams for your future together. It provides opportunities for touching, laughing, sharing ideas, fears, and what excites or upsets each of you. People change and grow every day, which means there are always new things to learn about your partner. Therefore, getting to know them is a lifelong activity.
When I talk with couples about dating, I encourage dating activities which require the couple to interact with one another. So, of course, dating activities that are electronic or media dependent are off limits. I also discourage a lot of group dates. Spending time with friends and family is healthy and important, but it needs to be separate from dates with your spouse. If you and your spouse want to develop a deeper connection, there must be time set aside for just the two of you.
Feeling connected to your spouse improves how you feel about them. Feeling appreciated, understood and validated by your partner, promotes an environment of acceptance and emotional safety. This environment in turn provides opportunities for intimacy and passion to grow. So, if your marriage has become stale, or if you feel disconnected from your spouse, or if events have happened in your marriage that have caused a loss of connection; turn toward your partner, not away.
Make It A Priority
On your quest for building a more enjoyable, lasting relationship, be sure to make your relationship a priority, enhance your connection with your partner, and increase your opportunities for more intimacy and passion, through dating. If you believe that you need more than dating to repair or build the connection with your partner, don’t hesitate to ask for help.
Updated: Original Post 6/27/2016