When I was in College I was wife hunting. I wanted to get married so I was always looking out for the kind of girl that I would want to spend my life with. Patty worked in the college cafeteria for a job and I noticed her every time I went through the line, and she would plop a big spoon of potatoes on my plate. One time through the line, when she put an extra scoop of potatoes on my plate, I asked her if she would like to go to a concert with me, and she said yes. That was the first of many dates that I asked Patty on, which resulted in many conversations, a growing relationship, and a wedding. I was a poor college student so I became the master of cheap dates. One of our favorite cheap dates was going to the TV room that was in the student Union building on Friday nights and watching “Mission Impossible.” Walks down to the local grade school several blocks from our college and me pushing Patty in a swing or the two of us doing teeter totter together was another weekly favorite. Our dates had several characteristics besides being cheap. The first one was that they majored on conversation more than activity. It was the hours of talking that resulted in our relationship moving from liking each other to loving each other. The second characteristic was that it was just the two of us so that conversation was more than chit chat and information sharing. A third characteristic was that we were both always in courting mode, meaning that we were both trying to impress the other person with our personality, and character. Being in courting mode resulted in good manners, disciplined speech, kind and gracious compliments, occasional gifts, and intelligent, well thought out questions. We were both working hard at making the other person feel special and getting them to like us.
An interesting thing happens to many married couples as a result of jobs, houses that need cleaned and fixed, meals that need to be cooked, lawns that need to be mowed, kids that need to be changed and disciplined, and the hassle of life, the dates stop or are greatly reduced. The thinking is that, “after all we live together, and sleep together, why have dates.
Men often have the attitude that the dating was for the purpose of winning her, conquering her reluctance, and you were successful so move on to work, hobbies, or whatever else there is left to conquer in life.
One of the things that often happens in marriages where dates are no longer part of their relationship is that intimate and meaningful communication stops. Conversation becomes information sharing about schedules, kids, activities, and bills. Husbands and wives whose communication moves to chit chat and talking about schedules become more like business partners than lovers.
The biggest consequence of no to little dating in a marriage is that often courting leaves the relationship. We take each other for granted, get irritated and angry, are not careful in our speech, quit working at making our spouse feel special, praise and affirmation is rare, and instead of spending time thinking creatively of ways to make our partner feel loved we become critical of their behavior and actions toward us.
Tomorrow I will continue this topic and write about how to make it happen and how to make them rewarding.