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Romance requires more than a dazzling date night

Unsplash/Amy Shamblen
Unsplash/Amy Shamblen

February, or the “month of love,” is often a tough one for relationships.

American couples — especially younger ones — feel a lot of pressure to splurge on Valentine’s Day in particular. About a quarter of Millennials even said they’d be willing to go into debt for a romantic night or special present, but only half of them reported even liking the gifts they received.

It’s a sad fact that one month — much less one night — out of the year just isn’t enough to build a strong connection with your partner. Many couples discount the significance of the all-important little rituals of daily or weekly connection during the rest of the year, despite being willing to splurge for a holiday.

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This year, take advantage of the month of love to intentionally begin celebrating romance throughout the entire year. Date your spouse over the course of your whole marriage, not just in preparation for it. Carve out time for each other in the day-to-day, no matter how messy or mundane your lives together might feel. Choose to see and celebrate the process of staying curious about each other.

Sure, you know all their favorite snack foods by now. You might very well be able to make better conversation with their mom than they can. You know exactly how they feel about junk drawers, and why. You probably figured out long ago whether they refill the gas tank when it’s near empty. You may have had children together or learned alongside them to juggle an increasingly demanding work schedule.

But behind all of this, loving and simple, is the person you married. The one you vowed to hold for better or for worse is still there, no matter how far away they might seem. Remaining committed to connecting with each other is the key.

The good news is you can start fostering that connection today by setting up habits that help you connect every week of the year — whether or not it’s a holiday!

The practice of rekindling or cultivating connection with one’s spouse can look very different from marriage to marriage, of course. But whoever you are, wherever you are in life, you can start by simply doing small things like taking a 10-minute walk together, catching up over a cup of coffee after dinner, praying together, or going on regular dates again.

Find a fun new place to eat. Give them your undivided attention and enjoy theirs in turn. If you aren’t sure how to start a conversation about something other than the children, work, or the bills, here are some fun conversation starters. Choose to take delight in each other, no matter what everyday life throws your way.

Date nights develop your ability as a couple to intentionally set time aside for each other. They allow you to talk with each other about things that interest you. They’re a chance to be intentionally and explicitly grateful for each other and even dream and create a vision for the future together. They also build a strong foundation for you and your spouse to weather challenges or tackle more difficult issues resulting in deeper marital connection over the long term.

So, take advantage of the month of romance to rekindle curiosity, play, and intimacy with your spouse. Make the spirit last all year long by giving each other the gift of intentional connection.

You’ll both benefit from dating each other, today and in many years to come.

Julie Baumgardner is the Senior Director of WinShape Marriage. She has nearly 40 years of experience of helping marriages and families thrive. Prior to joining WinShape, she spent 20 years as the President/CEO of First Thing First.

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