Build a lasting marriage by going out with your spouse again, and again, and again.
By Debbie Beavers
NASHVILLE, Tenn.–The alarm goes off. You listen to the quietness of the house and think through your day. Then you remember, Ugh, I’ve got errands to run. But, what if you woke up with a smile thinking, Today is our errands date!
David and Claudia Arp and Peter and Heather Larson would encourage the latter thinking. They are marriage and relationship experts who have written books, counseled couples, and facilitated marriage conferences around the world.
You may wonder, Why date? In a recent interview, David and Claudia gave three reasons for dating as a married couple.
1: You have to be intentional and always keep working on your relationship. Marriage is a journey, not a destination.
2: Dating is an opportunity to model a happy, healthy relationship for your children. It allows them to see that you are focused on your marriage, and have fun in your relationship. In a world where marriage and the family are under attack, we must develop and demonstrate God’s plan for a healthy marriage and family.
3: Dating builds friendship. The Arps conducted a nationwide survey and found the greatest indicator of success in a marriage is the level of friendship. Friendships must be nurtured and cherished to thrive, and that’s what dating provides in a relationship.
Who should be dating? The answer: every couple should be dating. Those who have been married three weeks and those who have been married 60 years — every relationship needs to be treasured and developed, even when you reach the point where you complete each other’s sentences. You may be thinking, Uh-oh! Well, don’t worry — it’s not too late. Now is the time to start dating. Don’t put it off, anymore.
Read the Book
How do you start dating? Remember that dating is an attitude—you can put the dating spin on even the mundane and turn it into a date. Turning ordinary things into date opportunities is an attitude.
$10 Great Dates is the latest in a series of dating books by David and Claudia Arp and Peter and Heather Larson. That’s right, dating books. David and Claudia have been married for 51 years and believe very strongly that it is critical for married couples to date. At a time when the economy requires that people pinch pennies, this book helps couples to think through dates that will fit even the tightest budget.
The Arps and the Larsons have put together 52 suggested dates for a married couple — each under $10. Every date idea is designed to help couples have fun while building and strengthening the relationship.
Plan Your Outing
The dates come with guidelines for planning, questions to discuss, and then opportunity for reflection and spiritual lessons learned following the date to help keep the relationship grounded in the Lord — the Creator of marriage.
Examples of some suggested dates are: running errands together, visiting home improvement stores, dreaming about the future, breakfast dates, at-home spa dates, and many more. The Arps have made this a part of their daily lives and are constantly looking for new opportunities to have a date. You can catch that same excitement.
Claudia is quick to stress that it takes three weeks to make a new habit and six weeks to feel good about it. If you want to build the dating habit, in your marriage, here is the foolproof way to do it — a roadmap. $10 Great Dates can inspire you by helping you experience short, fun dates that build your relationship for under $10, while teaching marriage skills.
Pull Out a Ten
How can you really have $10 dates when you have to have childcare? The book includes suggestions for childcare options, and suggests dates that can take place at home. Some dates include the children, and some are designed to take place after they’ve gone to bed. The key to dates that take place in the home is planning. They require intentionality in focusing on one another, and not the distractions of kids down the hall, cobwebs in the corner, and a phone that rings. Remember, this is time to have fun together, strengthen the relationship, and build the friendship.
David Arp says, “Fun in marriage is serious business. We’ve never met a couple on their way to divorce court, but were having fun in their marriage. For young couples today, they want more out of their relationship, they want more connectedness — more emotional connectedness. The problem is they don’t know quite how to get it, but dating is one of the ways that helps you keep that connectedness as you go through the years of marriage.”
You can find more information about David and Claudia Arp, their dating books, and seminars by visiting 10greatdates.org.
Debbie Beavers is a freelance writer, producer, and director based in Bedford, Texas. This article first appeared in HomeLife, a LifeWay publication. More information can be accessed at LifeWay.com/magazines.