Let’s face it. Being in a military marriage has all sorts of challenges. On top of work schedules, kids’ schedules and life, we have to add in fun things like deployments, temporary duty assignments and PCS moves! I don’t know about you, but my chief complaint is that we don’t get to spend enough time together in this fast-paced, hectic lifestyle. I bet you have felt the same way at some point or another, right? That is why it is important to make time for your spouse whenever you can. I am a huge advocate of dating. Yes, DATING your spouse. Just because someone “put a ring on it” doesn’t mean that you should stop carving out time to spend with each other…one on one.
Now before you think you are too busy to add a romantic dating life into your schedule, I am not talking about fancy dress clothes, champagne, roses and expensive dinner dates every week. I am talking about taking at least two hours a week and making it just about YOU and your SPOUSE. It can be any time of day, and it doesn’t even have to include the standard meal that most people think of when they envision the word “date.” You can even have a date in your house after the kiddos have been put to bed. No need to hire a sitter! If you work opposite schedules, plan a morning or afternoon date, or even a Tuesday date! There are no rules anywhere that say dates can only happen Saturday after 6 p.m. Military life getting in the way? Well, there are ways around that too.
Somewhere along the way, consumerism made us believe that dating is synonymous with spending money. Well, let us pop that misconception right now. My husband and I try to make the majority of our dates “budget friendly” (translation: cheap to free) and splurge on a fun day or night out once or twice a month. We really enjoy the time getting to talk with each other and make memories. We find that we are flirtier with each other during the week and are more connected. Don’t believe me on the cheap part? Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Make ice cream sundaes and a watch your favorite show that you DVRed but can never watch because cartoons have taken over your television.
- Play cards or a board game.
- Plan your future together. Sounds cheesy, but it is fun to dream with your partner and set goals.
- Take a biking trip around a local park to feed the ducks. While you’re at the park, you can even pack a picnic!
- Explore an off the beat local attraction. This is usually free, and you can end up getting some funny pictures of each of you being silly.
- Go to the zoo or a museum without your kids.
- Go window shopping. I like to do this before the holidays to get gift ideas for the hardest person on my list.
- Rent a movie and cook dinner TOGETHER beforehand. There is something romantic about cooking together.
- Go to a local festival.
- Watch the sunset – cliché I know, but there is just *something* about it!
If you are reading this while going through a deployment or preparing for a TDY, do not get discouraged. You can even date your spouse long distance! Through the wonderful world of technology, you can even date via webcam (keep your minds out of the gutter here folks!). This will require some pre-planning, but it’s not impossible. If there is a birthday or anniversary coming up, send your spouse a wrapped shelf stable treat (think snack cake or cookies) and don’t have your spouse open the package until your date. You can both share the same “meal” on your virtual date. Sure it isn’t a five star restaurant, but I don’t think many of military spouses require that sort of treatment…especially from a war zone.
The important thing is to think of dating your spouse as “preventative medicine” to keep your marriage strong. As military families, we know how important time together is. Make an effort, enjoy some time together as a couple and remember why you fell in love with that good-looking spouse of yours in the first place.