I rolled my eyes when I read it.
To be honest, I hadn’t realized how cynical I had become until that very moment, but the day I opened my phone and read yet another Facebook post about how having regular date nights with your husband will make your marriage exceptional, eye rolling was my best response.
Who Has Time for a Date Night?
Date nights? Are you kidding? It was an excellent theory for building a good marriage, but reality was something else entirely.
The reality was that even if leaving my children for a few hours with a friend or family was an option (it usually wasn’t), that didn’t mean that I had the energy to get dressed up and go out, nor did it mean we had the money to eat anywhere. We especially didn’t have the brain power to come up with something creative to do that didn’t cost too much money.
And can I also point out that my children are adopted and the trauma that comes from leaving them for more than a half hour at a time is so exhausting it takes us days to recover afterward? Yeah.
I didn’t have any problem with people who made weekly “date nights” a thing in their marriage, I envied them! But it wasn’t an option for us, and according to all the happy little memes and blog posts ‘round about the internet, if we didn’t make time for regular dates in our marriage, we were neglecting each other and would pay for it later.
When You Want a Date Night but Can’t Make It Happen
I mentioned the subject to my husband later that evening as we prepared for bed. He just sighed. “I wish we could go out more,” he said. “I miss just being with you.”
My head jerked up. I wasn’t rolling my eyes now. I went to bed that night with questions swirling.
The truth was that I missed time with my husband too. I really did. But if date nights like the world suggested weren’t options, what could we do?
What if we were actually missing something vital for our marriage? What could we possibly do about it?
So I started praying.
Scripture, it turns out, says nothing about dating. Not before or after marriage.
But it does talk about older women teaching younger women, and the wisdom that is found in counselors, so I went ahead and brought up the subject with my mother the next time we talked.
She said the most startling thing. Use what you have.
Use What You Have
This actually shouldn’t have startled me because it’s something she’s said it in response to many questions over the years. Anytime we were antsy or wishing for more, regardless of what it was, she’d remind us to be content and use what we had. Toys, clothes, abilities. Whatever it was, she’d raise her eyebrows a bit and we knew the same advice would be coming.
Mom, I want to play the piano better.
Use what abilities you have.
Mom, I want a new pair of sneakers.
Use the shoes you have.
Mom, I want a new Lego set.
Use the ones you have.
Mom, I want more time with my husband.
Use what time you have.
After I got off the phone and was pondering her words, I kind of snorted to myself and thought, well, all I have is about five minutes at a time before some child needs one of us.
And even though she wasn’t in the room, it was still my mother’s voice in my head that said, then use them.
What Can You Do With Five Minutes?
Over the next few days, a list started forming…
- I could wait ten minutes longer before waking up the children in the morning and instead bring my husband a cup of coffee and we could snuggle on the couch together.
- On the mornings when the children actually start school on time, I could walk my husband to the door before he leaves for work and take 2 minutes to kiss him goodbye instead of the usual split second peck on the lips while I’m washing breakfast dishes.
- Our gas station has really good coffee, and our kids were big enough to wait in the car for us, so we could take a 3-minute coffee-getting date when we stopped for gas.
- If we were in the vehicle we could turn the radio on in the back of the car and hold hands and talk quietly in the front while the kids were distracted.
- If we were both home and we suddenly realized that the children were both occupied for five minutes, we could slip around a corner to talk or kiss or just sit in the quiet together for a moment.
- On winter evenings we often played games with the kids like dice, or cards, or marbles. After we sent them to bed, we could play one more round of whatever it was—just the two of us—just for five more minutes.
Once I started down the list, I realized it was basically never-ending.
Getting the Kids On Board
We made it a goal to use the time we had, and we found ourselves with five minutes together dozens of times a week. It became almost a game to see how many five-minute mini-dates we could slip in each day.
Eventually, we got the children on board which helped even more. “We’re having a five-minute date!” my husband would tell them when they came to snuggle with us on the couch. “Do something for five minutes then come back and join us.” Sometimes they’d watch the clock and be back in exactly four minutes and fifty-nine seconds. Other times they’d start reading a book and our five minutes together would stretch to fifteen or twenty.
I’ll totally admit we do love to go out on an official date when we get the chance, though it still only happens a couple of times a year during this season of our lives. (As the children grow, that may change, which will be awesome.) But in the meantime, we are loving life together and are feeling more connected than we ever have been before.
Maybe It’s Not About “Traditional” Dating
All those memes and blog posts were right—dating your husband brings life back into your marriage. But they were wrong about it needing to be a traditional “date”.
All you need is five minutes at a time.
Are you in a season where going out on dates with your husband just isn’t reality? Can you make a list of ways you can steal five minutes together, even with kids and phones and life happening all around?
So many blessings,
Matt and Lisa Jacobson, authors of 100 Ways to Love Your Husband and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife, are the hosts of a weekly podcast to talk about what it means to be a biblical Christian in marriage, parenting, church, and culture. Matt and Lisa offer deep encouragement, along with practical steps and true-life stories, as we grow in walking the faithful life together.
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