If you don’t want to drift apart or discover you’re only communicating about kids and car maintenance, it’s a good idea to schedule dates with your spouse.
Make those dates even better using Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages. All five are good for sustaining marriages. One or two of them are so important to your spouse that skipping them leaves an empty feeling. So, let’s use all five.
Here’s an example. Choose any concert, museum special exhibit, theater performance, cruise, or other ticketed event that would interest both of you. Add these touches unless you’re certain your spouse doesn’t care about a particular love language:
Gifts: Buy the tickets. If they’re only tickets, print them or screen shots of them. Wrap them nicely or put them inside a card and use your best penmanship to put your spouse’s name on the outside. You want to convey that these are special and they are for the love of your life.
Physical Touch: Touch your spouse’s arm or shoulder, brush his or her cheek gently with your lips as you lean in to kiss the neck, and gently present the tickets.
Quality Time: Add this: “I bought these and cancelled everything else on my calendar, because I’m pretty sure you’ll have a great time, and being with you while you have a great time will be the highlight of my month.”
Words of Affirmation: As your spouse opens the tickets, whisper something like, “There is no one in the world I would rather enjoy these with than you.” Add something relevant to the event and your spouse like, “You always have such great insights to share.” Or “I love to watch you dance.” Or “Your sense of awe and wonder makes these things come alive for me.”
Acts of Service: Close with, “I’m handling everything. Just come with me and enjoy!” Then make arrangements for a babysitter or caretaker if you two have dependents, line up transportation, including a designated driver if you’ll both want to drink, and tackles in advance any chores your spouse normally schedules for that day of the week.
Now you’ve covered all the bases to turn any outing into a very special event. Positive Psychology research suggests you will both get lots more out of it if you remember to savor your date. You can do this in advance, during the date, and for weeks after it. How about a Post-It Note or a text before, like this: “I’m really looking forward to spending Friday evening with you.” Or maybe a YouTube link to a trailer for the event? Or choose your outfit and show it to your spouse?
During your date, remember to use your Love Languages to help savor the experience:
- Present a flower before you go, buy a souvenir for your spouse, or treat your spouse to a drink or coffee before heading home. Just remember to say “for you” if Gifts are your wife’s or husband’s love language.
- Hold hands at appropriate times. Walk with an arm around your mate. Lean over to touch shoulders or knees. Sneak in a kiss when you can. Dance together if you get the chance.
- Be certain not to check your phone or send a text or chat with a colleague you bump into if Quality Time makes your spouse feel loved. Be fully present. Make eye contact.
- Remember to say out loud how much you are enjoying your spouse’s contributions to the event and his or her company. And definitely avoid complaints about any part of the date, even if you have to bite your tongue.
- Be helpful and generous at every opportunity. And take pictures or get souvenirs to help both of you remember this date.
You won’t just be showing your spouse a great time. You’ll be more likely to remember the great feelings if you lean in and don’t just show up as a spectator to the event. That savoring will draw you two closer together and make the event a shared memory for years to come.
If you’re not the sort who remembers to savor good times, use your calendar. Talk about what you enjoyed most when you arrive home, a week later, and a month later. And every time the pleasant memory pops up, share it. The goal is not just an evening of fun. It’s a closer relationship filled with shared memories. Keep those neurons firing together, and they’ll wire together.