Let’s get a few things out of the way: No, I’m not married yet. No, I don’t pretend to know everything about marriage. And no, I don’t take marriage advice from people who seem to have been “born yesterday” and have been married for a relatively few seconds.
The post below, therefore, is not my attempt at advising anyone. Although I may have been observing a successful marriage for the past 33+ years (my parents’), read key no-nonsense books on marriage/listened to no-nonsense advice on the matter (Dr. Laura’s) + taken note of what some other decades-old marriages have done to thrive for as long as I can remember… I’m not qualified to impart any kind of knowledge on any of you married and engaged couples.
However, I do like sharing others’ suggestions, like this one about prioritizing marriage.
Its main argument is that while some advice out there about prioritizing marriage sounds good and well-intentioned, it seems to miss the point. I stumbled across the following pieces of wisdom as I was reading Hallie Lord’s newest book, Let Love Win: Celebrating The Ups and Downs of Marriage (free download).
(Side note: In case you didn’t read a post I wrote recently about her, Hallie Lord is a married mom of eight who has her own weekly show on SiriusXM. [Find out more about her here.] Her newest book is a compilation of blog entries from her former blog that revolve around mostly her adoration for her husband. But unlike many wives out there who sound preachy and even braggy when they talk about their husbands–or worse, will trash their husbands in public–she’s inspiring and in many ways says things that sound like she’s describing my dad or my fiancé.)
Anyways, back to Hallie’s take on prioritizing marriage, which is unlike any other I’ve come across as my fiancé and I prepare to embark on that awesome journey.
The #1 thing I’ve heard often about prioritizing one’s marriage is that one MUST go on date nights and one must leave the house to have any quality romantic time with their beloved: One must go to a restaurant, the movies, whatever, but one MUST go on a date anywhere outside the house.
(Case in point: This article about why one “must” go on date nights. Yikes.)
A lot of websites now are also geared to women focused on dating their husbands and will sell or make available for free some elaborate (ahem, wasteful) printables (the cost to print them them all should be a deterrent, no?) and schemes to so the woman can “truly” plan dreamy dates.
But one thing Hallie said that brought me down to Earth was: Things happen. And date nights out aren’t so realistic.
I like going out on dates with Chris (especially when the weather is perfect!), but a pizza by the TV makes me oh-so-happy, too. (Seriously, ask him how much I look forward to that particular plan. Between you and me, though, we only do it once every couple of months, because waistlines–and wedding.)
Hallie says that you can–and should–date your husband AT home, too. In fact, for as long as I’ve been alive, I can’t recall one instance where my parents went out or on vacation simply for the sake of leaving me behind (which may warrant its own post later on).
Instead, they talk on the phone a lot (every day), go on errands and on miles-long walks together, cook together, laugh actually OUT LOUD together, Netflix and chill while I’m out with Chris, and overall have a jolly good ol’time from the comfort of our home.
They’ve found their own ways to share intimate moments, and my fiancé (who loves cooking for me every week) and I have been learning that nights out aren’t mandatory as well.
My mom recommends the couple does try to find alone time and she and my dad would be happy to take care of our future kids when we do go out to do something. But they’re quick to add that they’re not 24/7 nannies, because then, why would we have kids if we’re not going to take care of them, haha.
My mom also encourages the dates, but she adds that the couple needs to connect every chance they can–even while out shopping for groceries or talking on the phone.
Just like my mom, Hallie mentions other ways that one can prioritize their marriage.
Sure, going out is good advice for those who can do it, but those who can’t have SO many other sweet alternatives.
Here I’ll only mention a few because I don’t want to copy whole pages off her book. If you want to read the rest, you’ll have to download it (it’s free!).
When you’re going through lean times, financially speaking, and yet spend hours thinking about frugal ways to have romantic stay-at-home date nights, you are making your marriage a priority.
When you write your husband love letters because you can’t afford to buy him a gift, you are making your marriage a priority.
When you dig down deep to find ways to love your husband and cultivate romance in spite of all exhaustion, frustration, and financial limitation, you are making your marriage a priority.
When you worry about whether you are making your marriage a priority? You are making your marriage a priority.
It’s simple, ladies. You’re entitled to worry about prioritizing your marriage, but FIND YOUR OWN WAY TO DO SO. That in itself means you’re prioritizing it. Dates are great, but are they required? No. Gifts are also good but are they mandatory? Nope.
Instead, be content in knowing that the love is there, and that no grand gesture should be necessary to remind either party of that.
I was going to end here, but over the days I’ve spent drafting this post, I came across another on why date nights ARE necessary–and I couldn’t help but argue with it:
TEN More Reasons Why Couples Don’t Need “Date Nights” (Besides the fact that, as Hallie put it, they’re “not the be-all and end-all of marriage and certainly not a prerequisite to having a strong, healthy union.”)
Based on that article I referenced earlier because I couldn’t believe how absurd it seemed.
- A couple doesn’t NEED to leave their home and children for the sake of being away from them to give each other their best attention.
- They don’t need a “date” with all the bells and whistles so they can talk because they wouldn’t have open communication, conversation, and intimacy otherwise because they should be able to talk openly when necessary.
- They don’t need to plan a regular date night to show their spouse that they care because there are other ways to prioritize their marriage and the other spouse should be able to see other better ways that they care.
- Regular date nights shouldn’t be the only way to show your kids you value your marriage. (Having been raised by parents who never took a vacation from me or went out without me, I feel sad for kids whose parents do just that. I also believe that if a couple wanted to keep “dating” kidless for decades, they probably shouldn’t have had kids.)
That’s fewer than ten reasons, I know. I just couldn’t read one more single word of that repetitive “article” in order to argue her other reasons. (I promise I tried but it seemed like it was written to just fill up space and not contribute anything of value.)
Feel free to avoid that fluff piece and check out this wonderful read instead: Five Little Things That Make A Big Impact on Your First Year of Marriage (applicable if you’ve been married longer!)
These are great reminders as I prepare to be a great wife to Chris, who’s so wonderfully no-fuss, normal, down-to-earth, selfless, and so kind.
What are some alternative ways you prioritize your marriage? This fiancée wants to know!
This was a completely non-sponsored discussion. I enjoyed Hallie’s book so much, that yes, I decided to send free traffic to her site.