It was a few months into marriage, after some awkward moments of us fumbling and struggling to let each other know if our plans were together or apart on weeknights.
He said he had something he wanted to talk through with me.
"Until we have kids, I have a vision of our evenings [other than date night] being spent in community,
with our friends, you building strong relationships with women you love,
and me spending time with men I respect."
I have to admit, I was bummed.
The heart behind what he said was so right- so us- but somewhere in the back of my head, I thought marriage meant that we had date night every night.
Even so, I gave it a try.
We started to talk about our people- about all the things we admire and respect, people we wanted to be more like, people we should be praying for.
We started to make plans and cultivate rhythms, and live out intentionality.
Thursdays remained our nights (as they had been through our dating relationship), but now, they were considered sacred- untouchable. Thus began the journey of being intentional in our marriage, and building into the tribe around us.
There was no way of really knowing what this decision would mean for our family- lets be honest, it could have been a disaster. Our people have spoken life into us and made us better in every direction.
We've been so humbled by the depth of relationships that were made possible because we put healthy boundaries on the way we were going to steward our time. The decision to invest our time in people has brought us closer, and has offered us a completely different lens to see the world through. In addition, date nights feel so exciting- I still have butterflies when I wake up on Thursday mornings.
The more we celebrated this part of our marriage, the more we felt we were doing "right," we started to feel a tug on our hearts about the "why". So we asked ourselves- why do date nights work?
When you set aside time for something, when you prioritize it, you are telling yourself and the people around you that that's what you value.
So we valued intentionality, friendships, discipleship, our marriage....
Where were we living out the value of our faith?
This could be pages long (and probably will eventually) - but for now I will just say that when we applied the lessons we learned through date nights to our prayer life-
it. was. revolutionary.
Date nights are not overly planned, but there are 2 elements every date night must have:
1. Begin with worship- it's the first thing that happens on date night. A time of quiet, singing, journaling, and praying together.
2. Reflection Confessions- At some point during dinner, we initiate reflection confessions. This is when we confess and apologize for times during the week where our intentions towards the other were not pure, or kind. It's difficult to hear sometimes, and difficult to confess, but it's so humbling to recognize the grossest parts of yourself. This time always ends with more respect for one another, a deeper understanding of one another, and a reminder of who we are.
We are learning to live out the culture of the family we want to be. It's certainly not perfect, but it's us. I have learned so much about celebrating other families and why it's important to cheer them on to be who they are. Who knew a date night could change your life?
Happy stories, sad stories, dramatic, sorrowful, and joyous stories- every story is a love story... and here are some of mine.