WIFE SUPPORT SIX: A Date for Life

“For most men romance is sex and recreation; for most women it’s affection and conversation. When all four come together, men and women alike call it romance and they deposit the most love units possible in each other’s Love Bank.” Willard F. Harley, Jr.
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Grandma Eva looked me straight in the eye.
“Get out of here,” she said. “Go now. Go to the movies. Go for a walk.  Do something. Together. Do it now. Before the babies come.”
The urgency in her voice startled me. What happens when the babies come?
She wouldn’t say. Grandma just stared me down over the rim of her spectacles until I grabbed my groom of a few weeks and skedaddled out the door on a snowy Friday night.
Three years later, when the babies had come, my mother reminded me of Grandma Eva when she said, “You need to go out.”
Which way is out?
“You know what I mean. You and Dale need a date.”
But the babies…
“Bring them over. We will watch them. You need to date.”
So I zipped my two bundles of joy into footie pajamas and left them at Grandma’s on a rainy Friday night.
Now what?We checked his wallet. No money. Shall we wander around Home Depot?  
It was a start. It was the start of something big, actually. Weekly dates became indispensable to our married sanity; 35 years later, we are so beautifully sane that we’re crazy in love. There are a lot of reasons we’ve managed to stay out of the loony bin, but in large part, I credit our consistent prioritizing of date night (just us) every week and a least one get-away (just us) every year.
Marriage experts, such as acclaimed author/psychologist, Dr. Willard F. Harley, Jr. agree. Dr. Harley has counseled tens of thousands of couples to follow his “Policy of Undivided Attention” in order to avoid one of the most common mistakes in marriage: neglecting each other’s emotional needs. He encourages husbands and wives to SIT DOWN EVERY WEEK AT THE SAME TIME and PLAN how you will spend PRIVATE TIME together that week: no other adults and NO children (who are awake). 
I know he is right: you have got to have privacy to really meet the feminine needs for affection and conversation, and to meet the male needs for recreational companionship and sexual fulfillment. The four are definitely MOST effectively met as a quartet.
I understand now why my mother and Grandma Eva were so insistent: they wanted me to end up with love-on-a-platter instead of settling for life-on-a-stick. I plagiarize them at every bridal shower and do my best to stare down the wife-to-be as I lean in close and say:  
You NEED private time together: every single week. 

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 “A long love affair needs a special, private, safe place to grow and blossom. Creating that space is, I believe with all my heart, both the joy and the most sacred duty of a marriage.” JeanBrashear
RELATED MUSING: “Somewhere Else.” NEXT UP on WIFE SUPPORT SEVEN: Husbands and Housework. Mona shares and teaches romance at Mona’s Musings with a  Hint of Romance and posts daily at Mona’s Musings on Facebook & Twitter. She is the award-winning author or With Mine Own Hand: The Musical Account of Nephi, and is writing the book WIFE-4-LIFE: The Power to Succeed in Marriage. Despite having just lived in Europe for a year, she remembers her favorite date included sharing an umbrella in downtown Provo 34 years ago. 

Pictures from Dreamstime 

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  • Anon

    Oh sweetie I am sending out a big hug to you. I know how it is to feel lost and lonely. But of course our stories are different. My hubs does put in the effort to try to find the problem. He just stops a little short and jumps to an easier solution. (usually that I need to get checked for depression) and I don’t know how to verbalize what it is I need. He takes everything so personal.
    I plan to email this post to him. Hopefully we can then find some even ground to work from and refresh the together-alone time that we recently had but we have slowly, quietly, misplaced.

    My own solution is to get busy. Busy working, busy helping others but never busy in the house. There is very little point in that. No one notices, I don’t like my house and with kids, it’s just going to get messed up again. Right now I am at the edge of major changes including a move so it is hard to find work to do. Also our work/living situation is not helping this. He works an hour away so by the time he gets home from a highly stressful job he wants to sit and chill and I want to spend some together-alone time. and Yes his idea of “time” is just Sex. Not those dates and “Our time” that might actually “get me going” I carry hope for the quick sale of our home and the re-set it will hopefully provide.

    I do see that I have a great marriage worth fighting for. I try to acknowledge the good things that make it worth the fight because you will always find what you seek. If you focus on the good you will see it pile up. If you focus on the annoying things, He doesn’t stand a chance. But then if there are few of the good things to focus on, then the problem is MUCH bigger and may need some outside help.

    Try to Always remember that you ARE loved and what you do is appreciated by someone. I know you are fighting a tough battle so I offer you my support, concern and love. Good luck to you. 

  • Em

    Added bonus: If you get in the habit of date night BEFORE the babies
    come, it’s so much easier to insist they continue when there are little ones pulling you every which way and all (think) you want is a nap. It is much harder to
    start up date night later.
     

  • http://findajobfaster.blogspot.com/2012/05/xerox-hiring-300-workers-in-lexington.html Xerox Hiring 300

    The movie Date Night with Tina Fey is something married couples need to see.  Every marriage I’m sure goes through staleness at some point even with a scheduled date night.  

  • Sara Lyn

    Oooooh!!! This is a great post! I love the idea of PLANNING how to spend private time together. Then you get the joy of anticipation on top of the rest! And it’s good to see the “quartet” spelled out – sex, recreation, conversation, affection. Everybody’s happy and fulfilled that way! 

  • Hannah Z Allan

    This is an extreamly good and important post. I see it in my own marriage right now, even before the kids, how essentail it is for both of us to have ‘us time.’ It is what helps us keep our priorities straight and give that essentail time to our spouse. We’ll sufficate without it!

  • anonymous

    Someone needs to please tell my husband how desperately I need affection and conversation.  I can’t seem to make him understand that.  I’m incredibly lonely all the time and when I try to get him to have a conversation with me, he doesn’t respond.  He just sits there.  sometimes, I can’t even get him to turn the TV off.  It makes me crazy.  Plus, I’m to the point now where I don’t want to share anything with him because he’s shown me how little he cares about how I think and feel.  I feel like all he wants is sex and as long as I willingly give that, he thinks the relationship is perfect, yet I’m feeling neglected and lonely.  Believe me, I’ve tried to tell him this, but he doesn’t seem to believe it coming from me.  He seems to think it’s some sort of way I’m trying to withhold sex, which isn’t even the case.  I still do that for him more than I like, but then he gets upset with me if I’m not totally into it.  I can’t get totally into it when I’m feeling so neglected.

  • Lisa Hamer

    I love Mona!  This is such great advice.  It is very difficult when babies are little, but so worth it.

  • debraerfert

    I count on my date night now, after being married for 32 years, as much as when we were newly married.  I needed to get away from the kids when they were younger, even if it was for a couple of hours once a week, and be alone with my husband. There were times when he wasn’t the attentive man he should’ve been. He had stress from work that he carried home. He even had times when his friends were less than a positive influence on him, and he also carried that home, too. It took, what seemed like many years, and a near collapse of our marriage, before he distanced himself from that bad influence–and our relationship bloomed again. It was worth it. 

  • Monasmusings

    Dearest anonymous,
    My heart is breaking for you. I want so much to help. My book, WIFE-4-LIFE: The Power to Succeed in Marriage will address the very issues you are wrestling with. My friends and I are getting everything in place to launch it soon. Please email me your contact info so I can keep you in the loop. Go to Mona’s Musings: http://www.monasmusings.com to contact me, or contact me via Facebook at Mona’s Musings. With much love and sympathy, Mona
    P.S. SHARE ANOTHER OF MY MMB POSTS WITH YOUR HUSBAND: Women Need Affection Like Air. http://www.mormonmommyblogs.com/2011/07/women-need-affection-like-air.html

  • Monasmusings

    Dearest Anon,
    I am so glad to hear you say that you have a great marriage worth fighting for. Of course, I cannot know all the dynamics at play in your marriage, but your determination to stay busy and to focus on the positive is very hopeful. By “staying busy” with the right things, you are taking responsibility to keep your own emotional coffers full and not rely on your husband for constant validation. THIS IS GOOD. Our husbands, no matter how good and well-intentioned, cannot fully meet this need in us. We need other women and certain activity to literally bolster our oxycotin! which helps us handle stress and keeps depression at bay. See WIFE SUPPORT TWO: WHO NEEDS WOMEN http://www.mormonmommyblogs.com/2011/12/wife-support-part-two-who-needs-women.html. As for his stopping short and jumping to a solution when you need him just to listen and work it through with you, please see WIFE SUPPORT THREE: TEACHING A KNIGHT TO KNIT: http://www.mormonmommyblogs.com/2011/12/wife-support-part-three-teaching-knight.html

    These Wife Support posts are very brief treatments of common issues for wives, but my new book: WIFE-4-LIFE: The Power to Succeed in Marriage will go much more in depth and be an inspiration to you. As I said to anonymous, please email me your contact info so I can keep you in the loop on the book. Go to Mona’s Musings:www.monasmusings.com to contact me, or to Facebook at Mona’s Musings. 

    With much love and sympathy and hope and applause to you, 
    Mona

  • Monasmusings

    Bless you! And yes — the babies test our resolve for sure! but it’s more important than EVER at that point in your marriage. 

  • Monasmusings

    debraerfert,

    Thank you for personifying the heart of this finding by a Waite and Gallagher study:

     “How many unhappy couples turn their marriages around by simply choosing to stay together? In one study, 86 percent of unhappily married people who stuck it out found that five years later their marriages were happier. In fact, nearly three-fifths of those who said their marriage was unhappy in the late 1980s and who stayed married, rated this same marriage as either “very happy” or “quite happy” when reinterviewed in the early 1990s. Surprisingly the very worst marriages showed the most dramatic turnarounds.” National Survey of Families and Households by the University of Wisconsin. In Waite and Gallagher, The Case for Marriage, 148. 

  • Em

    So true about the anticipation thing! My husband has a hard time making it through work on Friday if he doesn’t know what fun plans lay ahead for the evening/weekend.

  • Nicholas Campos

     of course you can, that would be an honor :)

  • Sarah

    What’s astounding to me is that my husband and I
    can be sitting in the same room, children asleep in bed, and can carry on an
    entire evening in two separate worlds. Unless we are intentional, there are
    plenty of interests/distractions out there that will pull us apart, to say
    nothing of harder challenges. I love checking in with my spouse and
    discovering either 1) “we” are doing okay or 2)
    something needs to be addressed/adjusted. Of course, that kind of approach
    works best accompanied with honesty and the safety found in the
    knowledge and effort that we’re both trying to make this work! 

    I loved this post, especially in light of being
    a parent of multiple children.

  • http://discounttalk.com.au/hens-party-sydney/ Paige Newdegate

    me and hubby are planning to have our vacation too, just to relieve the city stress and all. hope i can have my facial and spa. 

  • http://www.bestfijideals.com/ Fiji Deals

    Yes! This is so true! Couples should have at least a private time together every week. Its very important and beneficial to the both of them. Its strengthens their bond, love and devotion to one another. If this “private time” is not present, chances are you are going to lose your marriage. :) Having kids should not be an excuse for not having quality time for each other. Let’s all think about that.

  • http://bricolorful.wordpress.com/ Bri Z

    I too love the idea of planning ahead TOGETHER! When I first got married I thought it was my husband’s primary responsibility to surprise me every friday night with a new romantic date. I was sorely disappointed. Then I tried planning them myself and realized both how difficult it is to find something new and romantic to do every week (and on a budget) but also how much more fun it is to brainstorm together. That is usually how we go about things now (though I do get the occasional and wonderful surprise from my romantic husband), but I hadn’t thought of actually putting aside time plenty ahead of time to decide what we are going to do… BRILLIANT! How awesome would it be to anticipate it all week, if you could?!
     

  • http://www.nodeadbeetles.wordpress.com/ Heidi

    I’m very sorry. Can I recommend a book for the two of you to read? It’s called And They Were Not Ashamed: Strengthening Marriage through Sexual Fulfillment. It’s by Laura M. Brotherson, an LDS woman, and is for sale in church bookstores. It talks about how women and men are capable of having the same sex drive, but wired to approach sex in different ways. It would explain very clearly to your husband that in order for sex to work well for you, you need to be emotionally connected to him first. In other words, he needs to talk to you and show he cares in ways that don’t just involve having sex. It also explains that if you aren’t enjoying sex, it’s either because you believe you shouldn’t (which is untrue–the book explains that very well), or because HE is doing something wrong. This book did great things for my marriage and I highly, highly recommend it. 

  • http://www.about-sports-collectibles.com/ Sports Collectibles

    Having a date at least once a week is healthy in marriage. Sometimes couples tend to break up due to lack of time for each other. My husband and I always make sure we have quality time together. That’s the secret to a longer relationship. And also, know what makes her happy. Giving gifts without any occasion could mean a lot. I know coz my husband does that a lot. :D I remember one time he bought me this signed jerseys of Kobe Bryant, he sure does love me. haha! So you see, its one of the factors too. :)

  • Monasmusings

     SWWWEEEET. Good advice!

  • http://www.nodeadbeetles.wordpress.com/ Heidi

    This is a great post. My spouse and I are madly in love with each other, but we know we need to make the extra effort and schedule actual date nights with each other. Otherwise we end up going on about two dates a year and we miss each other. I do have one issue with the message though: the idea that sex, and sexual desire, is mostly a guy thing. I think my point would be best made by quoting Laura Brotherson, LDS author of And They Were Not Ashamed: Strengthening Marriage through Sexual Fulfillment, which can be found in church bookstores.  
    “It is said that men have a stronger sex drive than women. This stereotype, though well accepted, is actually a myth, and sometimes even reversed. There is growing awareness that some men have a lower sex drive than their spouse. The important difference is not that men have higher desire or that women have lower desire, but that their sexual desire is differently wired. Regarding this faulty generalization, BYU professor,Dr. Brent A. Barlow, stated,           Some poeple cling to old steroetypes, mistakenly perceiving women as being less sexual   than men…many women have been culturally conditioned to believe that their sexual inclinations are less than those of men–and if they are not, than they should be or something is supposedly wrong. But recent research indicates that the capacity for sexual response in women is just as great, and in some cases even great, than that of males.”She goes on to say that women and men simply have *different* sex drives, not that one is necessarily stronger than the other. She says that when men insist their wife has little or no sex drive, it’s usually for one of three reasons: she has a physical problem or emotional hang-up from her past and should seek professional help (or she is possibly experiencing the “Good Girl” syndrome found frequently in married LDS women, where she feels it is wrong for her to want or enjoy sex), or that THE MAN does not have enough understanding of how women’s minds and bodies prepare for sex, or he is not a good enough lover to help her enjoy it. “Included in this generalization is the notion that men want sex all the time, while women don’t. This may mean simply that women are unfulfilled sexually–including emotional and spiritual intimacy.  Something that is not enjoyable is not likely to be desired very often.” (quoted from pages 86 an 87)

  • Nicholas Campos

    From this man’s point of view I needed this message.  It is easy to get going so fast in our efforts to build a successful tomorrow while battling back the silent fear of what lies ahead.  It can make life seem at times like jumping through a wave in the ocean, you know eventually you will get to the calm sea, but in the mean time all you can think to do is breathe and dive.  I am so thankful for a wife that helps me turn off my brain, we take walks, go out to eat and just sit.  She is ok if I am quiet and checked out and she does her very best to engage me in topics that help me relax and during our toughest times she reassured me that love is all that we have ever needed.  She probably thinks that I don’t notice, but I do.  I am a firm believer in Pres. Hinckleys words, “True love is not so much a matter of romance as it is a matter of anxious concern for the well-being of one’s companion.”  My wife shows this to me unconditionally and in all ways and it makes me want to reciprocate.  My take from todays message is to learn to initiate insteade of just reciprocating.  I like reading these!

  • http://www.tawboomer.blogspot.com/ Trisha

    I linked to your blog just for this post!  I love it and have told so many people about it- Get Out!  Great idea.