In which there is no formula for marriage

The other day, my husband did the sweetest thing for me.  Recognizing how much I hate clothes shopping, and that I rarely have time for it as it is, and yet knowing that I needed some new summer shirts, he stopped by Target and picked out five new shirts for me (along with a couple more…romantic items).  I loved all but one of the shirts (it was a cute style, but the colour didn’t work with my skin tone), which is even better odds than when I pick out clothes for myself!   And I know for sure that he likes them — a major bonus in my book.  I was amazed with what a great guy I had…

But I know that a lot of women would not have thought that was very sweet.  They may want to always pick out their own clothes, or would enjoy the opportunity to go shopping themselves.  And that’s totally fine.  Each person is different and therefore the ways that each couple shows their love to each other are different too.

Just recently I saw the Facebook status update of one of my husband’s friends.  He was talking about something nice his wife did for him and ended it with declaring he was “the luckiest man in the world”.  I thought it was sweet to read about, but at the same time it kind of made me laugh since what his wife did for him wouldn’t necessarily bring about the same response in my husband.  And yet again, that’s totally fine.  Each couple is different.

I used to think that idea was pretty basic and obvious, but sometimes I wonder.  Especially when I hear touted a mindset that is pretty prevalent in some Christian circles.  There is this idea that in order for a couple to have a good, Godly marriage, they must have regular date nights “out”.  I’ve even heard some formulas such as “an evening out every two weeks, a night away every two months, and a week away every two years”.   Supposedly this is doubly as important when you have young children and therefore you must make a point to leave your baby with others even when they’re very young just to make sure that you get this time “away”.  And — if you don’t do this — your marriage is pretty much guaranteed to not thrive at all and will basically fall apart.

Honestly, I find many, many things wrong with this mindset.  Some of them may find their way into future blog posts, but right now we’re going to focus on the most basic.  All couples are different.  There is no formula of “you must do this in order to have a good marriage”.  Each couple has different things they enjoy, different ways they connect, different ways they show love to each other.

For some couples, that may very well look like regular date nights out.  If that works for you and your husband, and you both feel like it’s the best for your family, then by all means, go for it!   But for other couples, that may not work for them, but that doesn’t mean that their marriage isn’t going to thrive.

For Aaron and I, we rarely go on dates “out”, for various reasons.   We both don’t feel that it’s worth it to regularly spend a lot of money on going out, we don’t really feel comfortable regularly leaving our kids for long periods of time, etc.  But does that mean that we never have time for each other?  Hardly!  Quite a few months ago, we started having weekly date nights….at home.  They aren’t anything super fancy.  Sometimes I cook a nicer-than-normal meal, maybe we’ll play a game together or watch a movie. Oftentimes we just end up cuddling on the couch and talking.  The point isn’t really what we’re doing — the point is to make a specific effort, in the busyness of our daily lives, to focus on and spend time with the other person.

I’m sure that the reason behind the mindset I mentioned earlier is to get couples to spend time together, focused on each other.  And I completely agree that if you don’t make a specific effort to do this, your marriage will not thrive.  But you don’t have to go “out” to do that.  Because…oh yeah, each couple is different.  So the ideal date for one couple may be incredibly boring to another.  But that’s okay.  Let’s just focus on our own marriages and learn to love our spouse in ways specific to them.  And rejoice in the amazing uniqueness of your couplehood and a God who made you perfect for each other.

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7 thoughts on “In which there is no formula for marriage

  1. Jessica, even though I’m not married yet I totally agree with you. And I believe the same principle applies to singles looking for a spouse. I have a big problem with those who (with the best intentions I’m sure) propound a “formula” (betrothal, courtship, dating) for finding that spouse….because it’s the people, not the system that’s the problem! Like you said, everyone is different and different things work for everyone.

  2. I was reminded of some previous conversations we’ve shared as I read this – so, so good Jessica! Keep writing!

  3. So true! When we got married, people were telling my husband that we “had” to go on a honeymoon and that I surely wanted to but just wasn’t telling him! Strange the ideas people get about other people’s lives! Turns out both of us just love being together at home!

  4. I believe it’s all about spending meaningful time together and communication. I have no experience in this area… never dated or courted but I’ve been on the outside looking on and observed a lot 🙂

  5. I kept meaning to comment on this and never did! Just wanted to thank you for sharing your thoughts – I was starting to wonder if my husband and I were the only people on the planet that had concerns about this mindset! It’s only VERY recently that it’s even become possible for couples to “get away” from their kids, and I wasn’t aware that all previous generations had major marriage issues as a result of that. And the attitude that children are inherently marriage-destroying and therefore if you want your marriage to last you must find opportunities to escape from them – yeah, I have big problems with that. I think the thing is, like you were saying, to just keep communicating. You can communicate without having to “get away” from the kids. There is definitely no “one size fits all” for marriage. 🙂 Anyway, all that to say – amen, sistah! 😉

  6. The ‘date night is a necessity’ mindset bothers me as well…..my husband and I are both homebodies, we hate to leave our baby, and we just plain can’t afford to go out all the time. One of our favourite ways to spend time together is to run work errands together (we can do this since he works near our home in his dad’s business…..and we only have one child!)……we love to talk in the car and share what’s on our hearts.

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