We all know that dating is an essential element when looking for love with the right person. But what is the true meaning of dating? Well dating is the act of two people that are attracted to one another, arranging to spend time together for the purpose of getting to know one another and possibly developing a committed, romantic relationship. For some, dating is more of a casual arrangement, not for the purpose of developing a long term relationship, but simply for non-commital companionship, or a “hook up”/ fling intended to satisfy mostly physical desires.
Before You “Tie the Knot”
When we talk about dating prior to, or for the purpose of finding a partner in marriage, the reasons for dating are simple! We date to:
- Get to know one another
- Form a bond / friendship
- Experience intimacy and spend personal time with each other
- Create memories together
- Express love and appreciation and
- Build a strong, mutually vested relationship
If all goes well and these needs are met, usually marriage is the next step. But what happens when you finally tie the knot and life happens? Building a life together and starting a family is rewarding but very time consuming. Younger couples may be starting new careers or consumed with raising a family and tending to their children’s schedules, needs and wants. More established couples may be looking to go back to school or delve into entrepreneurship. In either scenario, running a household and maintaining hectic schedules equals a lack of time.
When Life Happens
When I look back at my own personal experience in my early years of married life, I wonder how we did it. From the time we got married until about 13 years into the marriage I was in college, working to develop a career path for myself, as well as holding down a full time job. I obtained three degrees throughout that time period but while doing so we had our daughter. My husband worked long night hours at a factory, and then he decided to start his own business. Not to mention, from the age of three on up through high school, our daughter was involved in multiple extra curricular activities every year.
For several years, we would start the school year with volleyball practice four nights a week, then move on to basketball practice. Following that would be softball practice. Not to mention playing all of the games for each of these sports….because missing a game was not an option! Other activities throughout the years included ice skating, dance, girl scouts and cheerleading. Recitals, meetings, practices, parades….oh my! Our heads were spinning as young parents and we had little time for each other as a married couple.
Thankfully we made it to the other side of that era in one piece as our daughter went on to college and became a thriving, self-sufficient young adult. We now have more time to nurture ourselves as a married couple. Knowing what we now know about the importance of investing in our relationship we have been able to grow as a couple and strengthen our connection. Dating has been just one aspect of the big picture but it has been a very important one.
After You “Tie the Knot”
Dating is the perfect way to help maintain a relationship after you “tie the knot”. The same reasons that you date before you get married are the same reasons for dating during your marriage. As a married couple you are considered “as one”, a unit. If you don’t make time to feed each other’s basic needs you risk the relationship deteriorating as your individual mental and physical bonds begin to break down.
So here are a few suggestions for some fun Date Nights….
- Candlelight dinner for two at home….picnic style with lots of blankets and pillows!
- A night-time drive to the waterfront, sitting and reminiscing about good times together
- Taking an interactive class together (Painting with A Twist, salsa dancing lessons, gourmet cooking class, etc.)
- Overnight stay at an Airbnb (re-create your honeymoon!)
- Go to a concert in the park or to a live jazz club
- A night on the town doing things you did together before you got married (a bar hop, getting late-night ice cream, long walks in the city, etc.)
- Relive your very first date again
- Of course, there is always dinner and a movie or Netflix and carry-out
If you want to get more creative you can always check out personal interests websites such as Pinterest for ideas. Be sure to share in the decision making process with your partner and be consistent. Making your Date Night a regular occurrence gives you and your partner something to look forward to.
Just remember whatever phase your relationship is in, married or not, if you want to develop and sustain a healthy relationship with your partner you must put in the time and energy to make it happen. Relationships are bonds between people that must be continuously nurtured in order to thrive. Express your love and make personal time for one another.