I turned 20 the month before getting married. The people close to us weren’t surprised (actually, we even got a few “finally!”s) but from most people we heard, “Why would you do that?” “You’re so young!” “You have your whole life ahead of you!” And my personal favorite, “Say goodbye to freedom, fun, and romance!” The ladies at my nail salon still tell me “you’re so young to have a husband and a baby!” Every. Time! (Bless their hearts 😉 ) Really, those things aren’t all untrue. We were so young and getting married at that time isn’t what’s best for everyone. We knew we had our whole lives ahead of us, but it was the lifestyle and priorities we were both committed to that made us confident in our decision to embark on it together. We made the choice with the wisdom of a godly community that surrounded us, prepared with tools of premarital counseling, and committed to pursing each other the way Jesus loves us, no matter what came.
You know, it’s all about perspective. Was our freedom gone when we got married? A little, I guess! I think it depends on what your freedom means to you. Sure, we aren’t always able to make individual choices that we want to make because there is another person to think of. Sometimes this impacts our social lives, our finances, even our future pursuits. What it really comes down to is that we aren’t able to be selfish anymore. In some ways we did say goodbye to freedom and in other ways we were able to live in a freedom like never before! We chose to have physical boundaries while dating to set ourselves up for success in the commitment of purity we’d made to each other. It meant saying goodnight when we didn’t want to. It meant staying apart when together would have honestly been more convenient. It meant choosing to live counter culturally and truly just doing what we didn’t want to do a lot of times because we believed it was right. So the night we realized we got to have a sleepover with our best friend forever and we could go get pizza “on a school night” for the third time that week because we wanted to – we were living the dream! The boundaries were worth it. The discipline was worth it. The freedom that comes from honoring God with a relationship that will become a marriage is worth the work and wait, I’m telling you! We live in a freedom of knowing that we missed out on heart ache and searching for love through our 20s and we lived it instead.
There’s a freedom in knowing you’re right where God wants you!
This isn’t to say that the freedoms I most desired as a 20 year old are the same that yours might be. When I looked at the next 10 years, my top goals were: graduate, start a career, buy a home, start a family. Marrying someone who would be my teammate in working towards those goals made sense for me. If my goals for my 20s were to travel the world or take whatever risks necessary for a career that required it or [fill in the blank] this might not have been true. There’s one thing I can say for sure though, we definitely didn’t say goodbye to fun!… But if I’m being totally honest, our idea of fun was always a little more old soul than millennial. I mean, our first home after moving off our college campus was in a retirement community and we fit in embarrassingly well! For us, we knew, the most fun we ever had was being together. Tackling the ups and downs of our younger years with a partner who can be the safe space and humor in any circumstance is something I would never trade for more “freedom.”
So the question is, did we say goodbye to the romance? This one may be the hardest to answer because it happens all too easily and for some reasons I cant even put my finger on. It’s hard! Sometimes – yes. There is something about the shift that happens when you transition from a relationship driven by pursuit and possibilities to one of commitment and certainty. It can breed laziness and even when you’re trying your best, there are a lot of things fighting to be the priority. No longer are you two individuals considering each other, you’re one couple navigating every aspect of life and life is messy and full and distracting. This difference was probably our biggest challenge as newly weds. I LOVED being pursued. We were made to feel chosen and loved more than anything. We’re designed to feel desired. So while we’d never mean to adopt this attitude, it’s way too easy to unknowingly slide into the comfortable position that there’s less need to win each other when we’ve already won and that’s where the romance dies.
I hear married women joke all the time: “Date night! Whats that?!” “We don’t date, we’re married.” Don’t even get me started on the couples that finally get away for time together and stare at their phones for an entire meal. Add kids in the mix and dating can seem even more far fetched! This is something we anticipated. We planned for it in our premarital counseling and said, “oh not us!” Then we found ourselves there on accident. Even the best intentions sometimes end up taking a back seat to work and relationships and coaching and bible studies…
Great things can intrude and just like the enemy can use good things to come between us and God, he knows how to use good things; how to use “busy” to weaken our marriages.
We’ve only had a few moments away since our son was born and every time we realize we needed it so much more than we knew. Most recently we’ve been in an extra busy season and it’s been rich, but difficult. The difficulty added up to a conversation about the way we’re just not connecting like usual and of course we’re not! How can you expect to be in sync with another person when you spend an hour -maybe- of quality time together each day?! We were preparing for a week apart after a long stretch of business (I see a theme with this word!) and just off. Jordan took the lead and planned a date night saying, “it’s important that we get back on the same page and remind each other how much we love each other.” IT WAS! We needed that time and I was reminded how much more of a priority this should be for us. There’s plenty of reasons not to. We’re tired! Sometimes there isn’t a free night to make it happen. We’re still getting the hang of this whole, leave our baby with other people thing and we don’t want to be a burden… The list goes on and they’re valid, but it’s not fair to give each other our left overs and it’s not right.
If we want an exceptional marriage, we have to be willing to work and live exceptionally. We have to be exceptional spouses.
So listen – date night isn’t dead! It can’t be if we want thriving relationships! This doesn’t mean that it has to look the same as it always did. We’ve called a few late nights of take out and a Redbox after our baby goes to bed a date! It means being intentional. It means spending time together on purpose and maybe even saying “no” to things that make us too busy for each other. It means asking meaningful questions and really caring about the answer. It’s reacquainting your hearts and maintaining an intimacy that gets lost in the day to day. We have to be better about walking the walk when in talk, marriage is important.
If we want to beat the probability of being successful in marriage, we have to do something different than the statistics represent!
If your significant other is going to be your first priority (second to God) then our actions better reflect that priority. We didn’t say goodbye to romance when we got married, but we do have to try a little harder to make it happen. Actually, a lot harder! We haven’t done a good job in every season, but it’s time for a change! No more excuses or guilt – dating your spouse is worth sacrifice. No earthly thing is more worthy.
If you’ve been following along on instagram (you can do that here if you want 😉 ) then you’ll know that one of my most recent favorite reads is “31 Prayers For My Son” by Aaron & Jennifer Smith. It’s packed with wisdom like this from the other day: “The greatest example of love you can show your child is the way you love your spouse. Let your marriage be the reason he desires to get married one day.” Wow! Such a convicting reminder to me that it isn’t just about me and it isn’t just about my marriage, it’s about the marriages of the next generation and future generations to come!
“The greatest example of love you can show your child is the way you love your spouse.”
If your challenge is the same as ours lately, here’s the thing, you’ve just got to do it. Don’t be afraid to ask a friend or family member to watch your littlest family members. They’ll probably be thrilled to! Don’t feel bad about leaving them or worry how they’ll do. It might be hard to leave, but that’s how they learn and they’ll be okay! When you get away, be away! Don’t spend the time worrying or distracted. Really date each other like you mean it! For me, preparation is the key to confidence. I like to leave information about caring for Finnley with these templates below. Download one to use for your family, fill it out, and plan that date! It will be SO worth it!
You can also download my older versions of these templates here 😉