Welcome to Love and Sex Today. I’m Dr. Doug Weiss and I will be your host for our conversation today. This is now our twelfth conversation and I wanted to talk about deliciously dating your spouse. So many people in marriage stop dating. That’s a big mistake. I tell my friends all the time, “Listen, you’re either going to date or do therapy, and therapy is expensive so you want to date your spouse.” This is a very important conversation. I’m going to give you practical tools, some things you’ve probably never heard or thought of, so you can deliciously date your spouse – so you can really enjoy dating and have fun in your marriage.
If you’re not married yet, get ahead of the game. Get these tools in your premarital workbook and keep these ideas so that you can facilitate and expedite a healthy relationship when you get to that point, if you choose to do that. You can go to loveandsextoday.com and subscribe there. Write reviews on iTunes. It helps everyone be part of the family, and one of you will be selected for a private conversation with me that will be priceless, powerful, and fun. We will try to, in some way, accelerate your life or just enjoy having a personal conversation. Also, get a free chapter of one of our books on the webpage, loveandsextoday.com. You’re always welcome to go there and click the books icon.
Today’s topic, dating your spouse, is going to come primarily from my book, “Intimacy: A 100 Day Guide to Lasting Relationships.” If you click the books icon on our loveandsextoday.com, it will take you to it. I’ve written several marriage books, all with good ideas. This one about dating is so important because if you’re going to be married, why not have fun? I mean, I don’t remember anybody walking down the aisle before all those people in fancy clothes and saying, “You know, you look like a good bill-payer and someone to manage life with and pick up the dry cleaning and take care of the kids. I just want to bore you and not spend any money and time with you my entire life. If you’ll sign up for that, let’s get married.”
Now you might be laughing. That would be pathetic. But honestly, some people actually end up doing that within the first months or early years of their relationship. They get focused on managing their bills and buying their house or their apartment and their furniture, and getting this done and getting that done and all of a sudden, this magical relationship becomes this dry “functionship.” If you’re in a “functionship,” you know what I’m talking about. It’s about getting this project done or doing this social activity, and we’re not having fun anymore. It’s no longer you and me, babe.
It’s this “getting done” cycle of “did that get done,” “did that get picked up,” “did this kid get to this event” where you lose sight of your “lovership.” You lose sight of that friendship you used to have when you looked into each other’s eyes and were just so happy to be seen and so happy to be with them simply having fun together. You’re probably thinking, “Dr. Weiss, there’s a lot of responsibilities.” I know, but one of your primary responsibilities is to keep your marriage hot. You will not have a hot marriage if you’re not dating. Marriage needs to be fun for it to stay hot. You need to go out and have a good time.
You’re thinking, “You don’t understand, Dr. Weiss. We’re really busy,” or, “You don’t understand, Dr. Weiss. We’re really poor.” Okay, well, here’s what I know about poor people. They tend to hang in tribes. So if you’re poor, you know other poor people. What you want to do is get together with them and maybe rotate your kids back and forth so you can get a night out. One week you take their kids. One week they take your kids. There are solutions if your objective is clear. If your objective is to have a hot relationship and you want great sex, you have to invest, because those things are results. You’re going to hear me say that again and again throughout the many podcasts we’re going to be together.
If you want a hot marriage, you want to have fun, you want to laugh, you want to look at your wife or husband as a lover, then you’re going to have to invest in them as a lover.
I’m not talking about just sex. I’m talking about a lover, someone who thinks about you, who writes you that card, who sends you that little hot text and communicates, “Hey, I look forward to being with you.” Or when you come home, they give you a kiss because they’re in love with you and not just grateful that you’re building a life together, but you’re really still important to them. Love is spelled T-I-M-E. You need some time together. Just having that warm, fuzzy feeling will go away if you’re not investing T-I-M-E.
So I want to talk about dating. I want to give you some real, practical tips because I want you to be successful at dating. You don’t want to be the person who begrudgingly goes on dates and complains about being on a date, and all the money you’re spending, and being frustrating, and call that a date. That will be sabotage. You will stop dating and that happens a lot. Some couples try to date but they end up complaining the whole time about some situation, whether it’s in-laws, politics, potholes, or family problems with the kids. Listen, dating needs some really clear boundaries.
So I’m going to give you a few boundaries. If you will follow these, your chances of being successful in dating for a lifetime are really high. My wife Lisa and I have been married for now over thirty years. We have been going on dates for most of those years. I want to say almost all of them. There was probably a short period between the two kids that was maybe a few months long without consistent dates. But we go on a date every week. I practice what I’m telling you. I am not one of those guys who get on the microphone to tell you what to do and not do it myself. If I tell you to exercise, I’m exercising three to four times a week.
If I’m talking about dating, I’m dating. As a matter of fact, Lisa and I are going on a date as soon as I get off this microphone and get ready for that. We have an event to go to. I’m looking forward to being with my beautiful wife. I love being with Lisa. She’s my best friend. She’s my lover. She’s the woman I want to be with. I want to show her off. I want to play with her. I want to smile with her. I love listening to her laugh. I love her big green eyes. I love the way she dresses. She is hot. I believe that because I’m investing and she’s investing. We invest in dating. We follow the rules I’m about to lay out for you, and I’ve been dating her for thirty years.
I’m going on a date today and I’m going next week and the week after that. Even when I’m traveling, we try to get one in. I mean, it’s very rarely that we don’t date every week. Our children have grown up with a couple that’s in love and want to be together. So they feel pretty secure that we’re going to make it because we keep wanting to sneak off and be alone together. That’s the kind of feeling you want to give your kids. I mean, some people with small children think, “Oh, we can’t leave them.” No, you need to let them know you love each other. You need to let them know they’re not the center of the world. Your relationship is the center of what’s going on, not them. They’re important but they’re going to leave if you do parenting right, okay? I’m in an empty nest now, so I can tell you it actually happens and it’s a very wonderful thing. Every stage of life is great and this one’s fantastic.
Let’s start with just making dating a priority. What I want you to do is talk to your spouse about it today. How often do we want to date? Once a month? Twice a month or once a week? I would say twice a month is about where you want to be at the very bottom.
Less than that, if you have to for some reasons, but really try to keep it to twice or four times a month so you’re having fun consistently because life is challenging and it’s meant to be fun. You might as well have fun with your lover, who you decided you wanted to spend your life with. So decide that. Then, decide a day. Pick a day that really is going to be kind of sacred for your date night or date day. I know some of you are self-employed. You can do it in the morning. You can do it in the afternoon, but pick a time when you can be pretty consistent, depending on what’s going on with the kids, so that time is going to stay stable for maybe six months or a year at a time.
That way, when you do hire what I call “angel sitters” (because they’re watching my children and they must be angels to do that), you can schedule them months in advance. Pay them well. You say, “Listen, every Tuesday night, I need you here. I’m going to pay you X. Can you do this?” Yes, they can. They know it’s every Tuesday. They figure their life around that and it makes it work for everybody. So make sure you pick a solid day.
Then what I want you to do is rotate responsibility for dating. This is a really important principle in dating because I found so many, thousands of couples get this wrong. They want to date but they want to make the other person happy. Listen, you don’t have the super power of making your spouse happy. You can guess at something and then if you guess wrong, you’re both unhappy and you’re spending anywhere from twenty to a hundred bucks or more on a date. That won’t work. So what you want to do is switch that thinking to this thinking. This thinking is you rotate responsibility.
So one date, it’s his date. He decides where he wants to go and how he wants to have fun. The objective is for him to have a good time. You’re his guest. Now if you’ve raised kids, you spend years of your life on bleachers and pews and grass watching your kids do not so amazing things, being a happy camper. You know how to be the happy camper. When it’s not your choice of a date, you’re the happy camper and you go along and have a good time. The next date, it’s her date. She decides where she wants to go. How she wants to have fun. She’s not trying to make her husband happy. She’s really on her own adventure and he happens to come along for the ride.
Okay, then just do that. Rotate it back and forth. One time it’s his. One time it’s hers. What will happen, instead of doing just the one or two things you both like, you’ll end up doing a whole variety of things you like and learning different things about each other. Discovering things together, whether it’s walking in the park, or taking a painting or a cooking class, or maybe you just want to go to the movies and dinner, that’s fine. I strongly encourage you to get a little more creative with food because you have to eat. But do more than eating a meal. Rotate responsibilities.
The Boundaries When Dating Your Spouse/Partner
Now let me give you the boundaries. This is really important. First, there are no running errands on your date. A date is not Home Depot, Wal-Mart, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. That is not a date. That is running errands. Pick up your kids, put them in a minivan and go have fun is also not a date. Now I understand the kids might be home more often during a break and you might need to negotiate your date time. That is fine.
That takes us to the next topic. It’s not shopping unless both people agree. He can’t run you off to a boat show. You can’t run him off to the mall and call that a date unless you both agree. You can’t bully the other person into shopping. They get to vote pn shopping and if they vote no, you have to come up with something more creative.
Thirdly and very importantly, do not discuss problems on a date. Do not. Don’t bring up recovery issues. Don’t bring up marital issues. Don’t bring up kid issues. Don’t bring up those hot button issues that you still need to deal with. Don’t talk about money on your date. If you didn’t put money in your budget for your date, put a boundary on how you spend. That’s fine, you can do that. But this is not the time to get into problems. This is lover time. This is friend time. This is fun time. This is dream time. This is where you’re with your friend, your buddy.
I married Lisa because I wanted to date her for the rest of my life. I figured if I married her, I get to take her out all the time and that’s worked out to be true. It’s fun to take Lisa out. I look forward to it. I mean, I’m sitting here and I’m really kind of thinking about what’s going to happen this afternoon. Dating is fun. Dating can be a blast. But again, you have to be responsible. Dating is a discipline. It’s one of the most fundamental disciplines in a marriage.
When someone flies to Heart to Heart Counseling Center at Colorado Springs to do an intensive on their marriage, one of the first questions I ask is how often you date. It’s a structure of marriage. Without dating in your marriage, your structure will be less than satisfactory. Your marital satisfaction will be less, and you don’t need that. Dating is fun and it can be creative. You deserve that.
So I want you to go on dates. I want you to have a really good time. Now, don’t forget, go to “Love and Sex Today,” that’s loveandsextoday.com. Subscribe there, review us on iTunes. If you want one of the marriage books, click the book icon and get one of those. For those of you who review us on iTunes, one of you will be selected a month for a private conversation with me and we will cover whatever you want to cover to accelerate some area of your life so you can have a fantastic life. As always, there’s a free chapter on our webpage. Enjoy that. Remember, always have great love and great sex today.