A few weeks ago, I was serving in the children’s ministry at my church. It didn’t take long for the kids to get bored with playing with the toys they brought and start asking to pull out the play dough.

I was low-key pumped.

As we pulled out the different colors and the plethora of toys that went with them, I opened a blue tub and a green tub and started separating the amounts I would need to make this precious little redhead cutie a butterfly.

But the colors were old. They were hard to meld together. They had been separated for so long, living in their own tubs that they were dried and hard to conjoin. I tried and tried and tried, but I couldn’t quite make them come together. That was until I committed to kneading them over and over, rolling them between my fingers until they were one.

I couldn’t let up. I couldn’t leave it very long without attention otherwise, if left to itself, it would separate.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. 

Matthew 19:6

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

As silly of an example as it seems, that night with play dough really reminded me of the amount of work it takes to live as one in a marriage. There is no magic formula in standing at an altar and saying some vows. It is still hard work to maintain. It is a promise that has to be kept. A hard promise.

I got all this marriage advise at my showers and even at my wedding from ladies who had been married for years. I would say that at least half of them said, “Keep the romance alive.”

If you are anything like my husband and me, you find it horrifyingly simple to go about your day-to-day life without ever planning time for you and your spouse. Things get in the way. Jobs. Kids. Even Church.

Then a day comes along that forces us into romance. Whether it is Valentines Day, an anniversary, or a surprise date from your spouse, These are usually the evenings that we have the best intentions moving forward. We promise that we will do this more. Once a month; once a week even!

That intention is good, my friends. It is the kind of kneading our marriages need to thrive and to hold together as one. But an intention is only worthwhile if we actually keep it.

Let this time be the time that it sticks. I have come up with 12 date nights, one per month until next Valentines Days, that we can put on the calendar right now so we stop neglecting the one on one time we so need.

March: Hit the Town

Go do the things that are specific to where you live! Eat at the #1 rated 12670612_10205775047712318_1285772535650878298_n.jpgrestaurant on Yelp, go into the weird store on the square you always walked past before, and spend time with each other at a park. Enjoy the place you spend the most time in a new way.

April: Take a hike or just a really awesome walk in a woodsy area

Like the technology free weekend, this is something that will force you out of the world of technology and allow you to get to know one another even more than you already do. Local trails are a great place to start!

May: Go on a bike ride

Find your dream neighborhood and imagine yourselves as residents as you ride down its streets. Whether it is where you would like to build your forever home or where you might like to retire, dreaming about the future together on a bike is an easy, cheap, meaningful date you will always remember.

June: Take a cooking class

For a recipe you don’t already know how to make!

July: Cook together with what you learned

The next month, see what you retained by reliving that last cooking class and recreating that meal.

20046332_10209608942597294_8070351978613821526_n.jpgAugust: Volunteer at your local animal shelter

Did you know that you can play with puppies and kittens at your local animal shelter and it is considered volunteer work?! Pick a Saturday, grab brunch, then go to the animal shelter to play with puppies. You may even walk away with a new member of the family 😉

September: Relive your first date

I LOVE this one. It is very similar to one that Austin and I did this Valentines Day this year (check it out in the video below). Whether it was simply a movie or going to a restaurant, reminisce on the fun you had getting to know one another. To make it even more fun, check out this list of questions to ask one another on your date.

October: Turn technology off for a weekend

A whole weekend!? Yes, I promise you can do it. Just before the holidays 12662444_10205775039112103_2360026978517835649_n.jpgbegin, let your boss ad families know that you will be off the market for a couple of days. Go to a movie you want to see. Read a book together. Just spend time with one another without the distraction of social media land, phone calls, or texts.

November: Attend a local concert

That’s right! Find a local band and go to a cafe where they’re playing. What an awesome way to support your local entertainment and businesses.

December: Go to a game with together

Whether it is your local professional team, a college team, or even a high school team, pick one you can both cheer on and enjoy time together!

18301582_10209090078226009_5108629634010985167_nJanuary: Revisit your childhood

Go to the movie store and rent each of your favorite movie. Then head to Spotify and click on the pre-created playlist for the decade in which you grew up for a ride around town. And of course, don’t forget to go to your favorite childhood restaurant before it all begins and pig out on whatever you would have as a kid.

February (Next Valentines day): Recreate your wedding night

This one is my very favorite and exactly what Austin and I did this Valentine’s day. We started by eating the same meal we did on our wedding night. Then, we got dessert one more time, before heading home, watching our wedding videos, and dancing to the music we did on that night.

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