Do you remember how excited you were to date your spouse… before you were married? Do you remember the butterflies you had in your stomach when you would pick up the phone to call or you would stop by and see your spouse… before you were married? Do you remember all the crazy things you would do to make your spouse happy… before you were married? Now you’re married. Are those butterflies still there? Do you still get excited when you see your spouse or even think about seeing them? Do you go out of your way to do something for them on a regular basis, just because?
I am going to assume you are one of the average married couples that has been married at least a couple of years and a lot of these feelings have slowed down or stopped completely by now. I assume you have stopped “dating” your spouse. When did you stop? Why did you stop dating your spouse? Did you stop dating them, because you married them?
I “pursued” (that sounds so much nicer than “stalked”) my wife, for a long time before we started officially dating. We were “just friends” for probably a year after she could even tolerate being around me. Once she gave in to the idea of going out – there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t do for her. I would answer her call morning, noon, or night – ready to please her in any way I could. I remember cutting flowers from every yard within a 2-mile radius of her house and leaving them on her front porch in the middle of the night (by the way, sometimes when you do that it draws the attention of a lot of ants – just an fyi). I would give her anything I thought would make her happy or drive out of my way to take her somewhere, or make up all kinds of excuses just to see her… before we were married.
From Butterflies to Bother
This odd dating behavior continues on into the marriage, usually for a year or so (during the “honeymoon period”), but for some reason it eventually slows way down or just stops altogether for most of us. Your spouse – the one you would have done anything for, the one that caused the butterflies in your stomach now seems to be more of a bother. When does that switch get flipped from dating my spouse to my spouse being a bother?
Do you ever ignore a call from your spouse – send them to voicemail? When did they become less important than anything else you are doing? Do we complain when our spouse asks us to do something that really isn’t even out of our way, like pick up some bread on the way home from work or grab something for them while we are at the store that we were already planning on going to? We may not complain out loud, but at some point the interaction with our spouse went from butterflies to bother. We used to look past those little “quirks” that we saw in our spouses and now they are “flaws” that irritate us – now we focus on them. Why does this happen? Why do we let it happen?
No Need to Impress Any More
Part of the problem is that once we are married, the chase is over – we won – we have “gotten what we wanted.” We don’t feel the need to dress up, or work out, or take as good of care of ourselves. We aren’t worried about impressing our mates, because we “have them.” We take our spouses for granted so easily, so often.
We stop looking for ways to please them and woo them like we did when we were dating. I don’t think it is so much a conscience decision – it really “just happens” – life happens. We get busy, we prioritize other things – but that doesn’t make it right. It “just happens,” because we allow it to. Dating our spouse takes a lot of effort – maybe even more effort than it did before we were married. We have to be very thoughtful and purposeful while dating. Once we are married, we aren’t so purposeful about taking care of that all-to-important relationship with our spouse – shame on us.
Date Them Again…
Here’s what I am going to suggest… I am proposing that we give dating another try – dating our spouses, not dating other people – that’s a whole separate series of articles. 🙂 Date your spouse! Because, here’s the thing – she is worth it – he is worth it. They were worth it before you married them and they still are. They might even be worth dating more now than they ever were before you were married, because now they also put up with you and all your flaws, too.
Chances are, your spouse may feel the same way about you – they may have moved from butterflies to bother, too – they may have given up on wooing you as much as you have given up on them. If your spouse doesn’t seem to be all that interested in dating you any more, you must assume that you are probably less dateable than you were X years ago. I know I am less dateable now than I was 20 years ago, for sure.
I know it is a two-way deal here, but someone has to take the initiative. Even when you started dating – someone “made the move.” Normally two people don’t have the same desire to start dating at the exact same time. You cannot blame your lack of desire to date your spouse on them not dating you. You need to start the dating again!
…Before Someone Else Does
So, here’s the scary part – we don’t want to think about it this way most of the time, but here is the reality… If you don’t date your spouse – there is always someone out there that would like to – and would probably do much better at it than you are or are not currently doing. We all desire to be “dated.” We all want to feel pursued. We all want someone to show us affection. Why do you think there is so much “cheating” (adultery) in our society? A spouse is seeking affection and attention and maybe they aren’t receiving it from their husband or wife – someone outside of their marriage starts to treat them the way their spouse used to… before they were married, and before you know it, a relationship begins and not too long after… your spouse is making plans to leave you. Don’t let that happen – don’t let that even be a thought it your spouses head.
There are people out there that envy you – people that think you are the luckiest guy or girl in town, because you are married to <fill in the blank>. And you know what? They’re right. You’ve just forgotten that you are the luckiest person. There are people that would gladly date your spouse. And more than likely, there are people that would be much better at dating them then you would. You must protect your relationship – you must make your spouse feel desired.
You Are the Lucky One
Make them feel like they are the only one on this planet that you want to be with. Remind yourself that you are the lucky one! Remind your spouse of why they fell in love with you – spoil them!
I know you’re thinking, “But, that takes effort, blah, blah, blah…” But, that little bit of effort is so worth it. Once you start truly dating your spouse again, generally they will want to date you right back and the reciprocal behavior is mutually rewarding for both of you. And then a good cycle starts. You treat them well, they will treat you well, and then you two start to try to outdo one another and everyone wins! Your spouse is worth dating again!
Change your mindset – look at your spouse differently than you probably are right now. Desire them, pursue them, dress up, put makeup on, try to impress them, help out in the kitchen, say nice things to your spouse, tell them, “I love you!” Make date night a regular occurrence. Don’t let other things cancel your date night. Make it special – not just running errands together. Show up with flowers every once in a while – just because. Go out of your way to do something. Be purposeful about dating!
For some ideas on where to start try 30 Days of Dating – Habit Formed. Do something small – you’ll be surprised at the impact even the smallest effort makes. Start dating your spouse again!