With World Marriage Day, National Marriage Week, and Valentine's Day behind us, it is still important to carry forward romantic traditions in our marital relationship. Why should the display of love between spouses be relegated to special occasions like anniversaries, birthdays, and Valentine's day? Worse yet, why is it that our society feels a need for things like 50 Shades of Grey and other such cultural phenomena to "spice up" and "invigorate" spousal relationships when there are such simple things couples can do to stay engaged with one another?
The cloud of marriage experts in the world, secular and faith-based, almost universally state that a key ingredient to a solid and intimate relationship in marriage is intentionally setting aside time and money for regular date nights. This doesn't mean always having to go out and getting a babysitter either. A date night is simply time intentionally set aside once a week (or two) where husband and wife are dedicated to each other without distractions. It could be a game night, a movie night with buttered popcorn while cuddling on the couch, take out and video games, or the occasional winery tour or fancy night on the town. Whatever works for spouses to engage with one another.
Now why is a post about date nights in the Tech Talk section of CatholicMom.com? Well, as it turns out, setting a goal of having date nights together is one thing; however, actually working together to set up the date nights in a way that ends up on both people's schedules is another.
How do the modern, on-the-go, child chasing, Twitter hash-tagging, and yes, even old-school wall calendar adherent couples work together to set up creative and fun dates that end up on the calendar, get planned, and that they can be committed to?
My wife Tanya actually came up with the simple and best answer for this. While Tanya does use a wall calendar for everything, she also uses Facebook every day, In fact, she regularly schedules group events for a mom's group she belongs to on the site. So Tanya figured, if a Facebook group and events work for this mom's group, why not for us?
Simply put, married couples can set up a private or hidden group just for themselves. After the group is set up, both people are made administrators of the group so as to have access to post and edit group events. Then each spouse can take turns planning an event for the group every other week. If the timing doesn't work, the more calendar-focused spouse can update the time to one that will. It allows BOTH spouses to create unique and fun events, while allowing the other spouse to have a say as well.
For example, let's say that I post a new event for next week titled "Video Game Night". For suggested food, I put, pizza and suggested clothing, casual. I schedule it for Thursday night from 8-10pm after Linus, our son, is in bed. Unfortunately, I forgot Tanya has to work that night and for some reason I also forgot that she is on a low/non-wheat/non-gluten diet. (I can be this dumb, just ask her) So, when Tanya gets the event invitation, she updates the day to Tuesday instead and changes the food from pizza to sushi. So, while I came up with the idea for the game night, Tanya finessed it so that it fits our collective scheduling and nutritional needs. (Note: This is just an example of how it works, not necessarily reflecting accurate real-life data.)
The best part is, this can be done in pretty much any social network and it allows for each person to set up and edit events. The events can be synced to Google or iOS calendars as well. The other advantage of using a group is that spouses can pass quick love notes or reminders to each other on the main group page, allowing for more open communication. Even the group event pages can be used to drive better ideas for the evening or to talk about what each person is looking forward to.
Of course, the events don't have to be JUST dates. I'm sure that from time to time a couple might want to be a little feisty about things and hey, they are married so, who cares!? The marital act is one of the most beautiful and holy things about marriage itself. Who needs 50 Shades of Grey to spice things up when spouses can come up with their own sensual evenings that RESPECT each other's God-given dignity and allow for open collaboration in the planning?
One of my favorite things about the whole process is that it is truly Tanya and I working together to set aside time to focus on us. Even if the night doesn't go as planned, we still have the time blocked out on the calendar to focus on one another. Tanya makes sure that her paper calendar gets updates and ensures that my ideas aren't too expensive or crazy. However, it also means that she doesn't have to come up with all of the ideas, which takes pressure off of her.
So, as it turns out, social networking sites have a pretty nifty way for spouses to work together on dedicated date nights and to be fun and creative about it. What is your reason for not investing this time for your marriage?
Copyright Christopher Weitzel 2015
Art/Photography: save the date, side a, Joshua Rhodes, 3/15/2009,
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