As it turns out, any relationship can grow old, stale, or contentious if you let it. I'm only six years into marriage and I still have so much to learn, but one thing Nathan and I found out quickly is that investing in our relationship always pays off in dividends. I know this looks different depending on what season of life you're in (dating, engagement, marriage, children, empty nesters, etc.) but I think it's a universal truth that the most important thing you can invest is time.
Believe it or not, Nathan and I fight from time to time ;) On most occasions we (thankfully) fight about little things that are simply a reflection of our frustration with another area in our lives, a result of being tired after a long day, or just the fact that we are human beings and things will always come up no matter what. Nathan has always been good at checking in on our marriage - how we're doing, how we feel towards each other, how life is outside of our home - and making sure we are on a good track.
Most of the time we are, but there have been times when we've sat down to look and realized our fighting and frustration is much higher than normal. Our first reaction when we are angry or upset is shrink back from our relationship and just not deal with each other for a few minutes or hours. Space is healthy and good, but when it becomes too frequent it hurts us as a couple and as individuals.
So, like it or not, what we've learned is that in moments when we'd rather not spend as much time around each other, we need to increase our investment. The #1 thing that helps our marriage is focused time together. Nathan and I both have interests apart from each other, and it often becomes tempting to spend so much time doing our own thing that we forget to spend time with each other, replacing it with spending time around each other - together but separate.
Going on a date or going away for a weekend forces us back in each others' direct line of contact. Yes, sometimes this results in more frustration or an argument about something else, but we have never left focused time together regretting what we invested. In fact, each weekend or evening we spend just the two of us - no phones, no friends, and nothing else to distract - has made us so much stronger. It forces us to talk out any conflicts that are going on, and makes us look deeper at what's really bothering us - which oftentimes has nothing to do with the other person. We remember what we love and like about the person we have chosen to spend forever with, and come back with a renewed sense of respect and admiration for each other.
Never stop dating your spouse. Never be afraid to invest in a weekend away. Don't let distance come between you, and never let your marriage grow cold. Work at it every day - it's so worth it, I promise.
Running out of date night ideas? Click here for a fun list to help you plan the next one!