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Any person who’s been married for more than five minutes knows how carving out intentional time for your spouse doesn’t happen naturally—it has to be sought out and protected. If you are married, it’s the very center and foundation of your life, and so it should get even more attention than your job, the kids, and definitely your hobbies. But I think a lot of times it comes from thinking that the concept of “dating” is over once you get married. When in reality, we should be dating our spouses even more so after marriage. One of the best pieces of marriage advice I ever got was that you are either growing closer together or drifting apart; there is no neutral. So the times I feel like my wife Alyssa and I are in neutral or cruise control, we probably aren’t as close as we can be. So let’s start dating our spouse. Why?

1) IT GROWS YOU CLOSER TOGETHER

For Alyssa and me, I think some of our best conversations (or, as Alyssa calls them, “heart-to-hearts”) happen when we are on some type of intentional date. When you are intentional with your time as a couple, it naturally leads to intentional conversation about dreams, hopes, and how each other is doing. For Alyssa and me, it’s where all the hustle and bustle of life (kids, diapers, dishes, etc.) slows down and we can look each other in the eye and check in and grow as a couple.

2) IT’S FUN

A lot of married couples I know look back on their dating years with an attitude of “the good ol’ days.” They see their dating years as the times where they had fun, took risks, and made a ton of memories. Dating is fun! And so why would we stop it when we get married? Sure it takes planning, and time, and energy, but you’ll make moments and memories, and you’ll never regret it. By the way, if you want fun date night ideas, skip to the end. Making memories and moments throughout your marriage together is one of the best things you can do.

3) IT TELLS THE GREATEST STORY EVER

I know this one seems a little more out of left field, but marriage ultimately is a shadow. It’s a rhythm and dance set up by God from the beginning to not be about us, but to tell us about something greater and bigger. It’s a dance we step into to tell a story about the cosmos, and heaven and earth, and ultimately the marriage of the Creator to His creation–us. When we date well, we tell a good story. That saying the vows isn’t the end, but the beginning. That getting married isn’t boring, but an eternal adventure. That intimacy takes work, but it’s so worth it. So when we date well, we are better reflecting our Creator and the story He’s trying to tell through us.

So date your spouse. Put as much energy into it as anything else. And yes, date night will sometimes mean sitting on the couch after the kids go to bed and watching 4 episodes of Gilmore Girls (OK, maybe that’s just Alyssa’s and my thing) and sometimes it means getting a babysitter and making it special. Whatever it is, just put time and energy into it. And ultimately remember it’s about closeness and oneness.

You can find more from Jefferson and Alyssa Bethke book Love That Lasts, which explores the widespread fictions and falsehoods of the moment and one by one peels back the lies to reveal what God truly intended for all of us. Blending their personal accounts from their individual histories, Jeff and Alyssa candidly trace their steps and offer the broken, the tired, the addicted, the divorced, the married, the single, and the seeking a place where life, joy, and intimacy can truly be found.

Jefferson Bethke

Jefferson Bethke

Jefferson Bethke and his wife, Alyssa, are the authors of Jesus > ReligionIt’s Not What You Think, and Spoken For and have been featured on 700 club, Faith Gateway, Christian Post, and Christianity Today.

In addition to writing, Jefferson is well known for his spoken word YouTube video "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus," which has been viewed over 32 million times. Their podcast can also be found on iTunes.