You’re engaged. Yay!
Queue the long hours of planning, the sleepless nights of worrying, and the preparation of what might be the biggest event you have organized in your life up to this point.
For many couples, something strange starts happening during the engagement period. Amidst wedding planning, cake tastings, and dealing with family dynamics, many couples actually become more distanced from one another.
It may seem like a contradiction, that as you take one of the greatest steps toward solidifying your relationship, you could also become more disconnected than you’ve ever felt.
The one thing that can truly save your relationship during this high-stress, critical time in your lives is dating.
Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t let your dating life slide during your engagement:
1. Dating is a critical part of keeping a relationship strong and healthy.
Dating to relationships is like exercise to physical health. You need a healthy dose of dating in your life, or your relationship may begin to wilt like an unwatered flower. The scary thing is that we don’t see our relationship wilting as we would an flower that is obviously reaching to be watered.
Some things to consider that may tell you a date is warranted:
Feeling distance between you and your partner
Feeling alone, isolated, or that you’re drowning in wedding-planning
You haven’t talked to your partner about anything other than wedding details this week
Feeling like you miss your partner
Hearing your partner say that he/she misses you
2. Dating doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.
One of the main reasons couples say their dating life has slid to the backseat is because of money. More couples in today’s world either pay for, or contribute to, the funds for their wedding. While this is not all-encompassing, it is a reality for many.
The truth is that small, intentional dates can go a long way. Often, it is the creativity of a date that makes it more valuable than the amount of money you spend on wooing your partner.
I work with clients in Dallas, where there is little excuse to find a great spot to go for a date, a romantic walk, or even a fun activity that isn’t free or low-cost.
Check out the possibilities in your area. Sometimes it’s the things you end up doing on a whim that cost nothing that end up being the most meaningful moments you spend together.
3. Dating is intentional and goes beyond the norm of every day adulting together.
Dating isn’t the daily routine of stopping off at chipotle to grab a quick meal so that you can say you saw each other and made time for each other. I’m not dogging weekly (or even daily) dinner dates, but I think in today’s hustle and bustle of life, we need to step dating up a notch.
DATING is when you go beyond the normal motions of your day to really show your partner that you care… to prioritize your relationship and do something a little more special than Netflix and pizza (although I would absolutely consider that a date if it’s not something you already do every day).
Consider the ways you can add a unique twist to your dates. Perhaps you get food and go eat by a lake or at a scenic area. Maybe you do dinner and a movie to get both of your minds off of the wedding planning to-do list discussion.
4. Dating can be a team process and a stress reliever.
However traditional or egalitarian your relationship may be, I encourage you both to consider your own part in your dating life and satisfaction.
The engagement season is stressful for both parties, and sometimes there’s more work on one person than the other (depending on how tasks and decision-making is shared).
Consider taking turns to plan dates so that the responsibility doesn’t belong to one person alone. If you can each plan a special date night every other week (allowing one date a week), that makes only 2-3 dates you would personally need to plan in an entire month, and easily allows for weekly dates where you can connect and enjoy time together.
Spending quality time together can allow you to stop focusing on everything outside of yourselves and relieve some of the built-up stress. Though you may have to write it into your busy schedules, the effort will be well worth the relaxation and connection you receive from prioritizing a date.
5. Dating actively shows your partner that they are a priority to you. And, come on, who doesn’t love that?
So much focus is placed on external factors and decisions that need to be made that it’s common for couples to forget to touch base with each other. This can often lead partners to feel insecure. It becomes “assumed” that you both love and care about each other, and less and less shown.
If you can take the time to plan out intentional ways for you and your partner to connect (let me say that a little more simply: DATE), you will reap the benefits of a closer relationship that is reflective of two people who care about, and prioritize, each other.
Your partner may not beg or plea with you to go on dates. Maybe they do. But sometimes, we forget to say what we need. Other times, we aren’t seeing the signal our lover is putting out.
Suffice it to say: you need to go on dates. Your partner needs to go on dates with you. It is a lifeline for your relationship and will help ground you.
The more time you can spend together and NOT discuss a long list of items to get done, the better the quality of your date will be! Remember, it’s about strengthening your bond and really tuning into your partner. Both of you are important enough for this to happen. Your marriage will thank you for it.