They ought to be almost as obligatory as weekly Mass (but they don’t have to be expensive or complicated!).
Marking the Sabbath is a way of refreshing and renewing our commitment to loving God and neighbor, to growing deeper in faith. Failing to meet our weekly minimal obligation to listen to the Word of God and participate with the Body of Christ at the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith, weakens our capacity to be a living witness all the other hours of the week.
Missing Mass erodes our capacity to hear God’s Word. It dims our willingness to see God in others. It allows the coarse business of the world to seem more pressing than seeking the Kingdom of God. Everything about us that is wrong is given priority when we fail to put the Sabbath first.
Likewise, setting and keeping a date night with your husband or wife, is a necessary means of making sure we don’t fall into bad habits with respect to each other; relating as roommates or as merely Mom and Dad, or worse, as adversaries battling for turf on the home front with respect to parenting, finances, and even the most minute of details.
God knows we need time to reconnect with Him despite all the evidence of His gifts around us, and that time is no less necessary for husband and wife, with all of reality pressing down around us.
The tendency in this culture is to put career first, me first, kids first, community first, but notably not us (husband and wife) first. The couple unit is at the forefront only in preparation for the wedding.
But marriage, as anyone in a marriage knows, requires a willful putting of the relationship first. We sacrifice with and for each other. We sublimate to each other. Date night, is a way of reminding each other of the joy of marriage, and it is most necessary when everything else is not running smoothly.
So many couples tend to skip scheduling date nights when things are running smoothly, and when things begin to not run smoothly, they use the fact that things aren’t good as a reason to not schedule a date night — such that date nights almost never happen unless it’s a birthday or anniversary. That’s like only going to Mass at Easter and Christmas. Yes, it’s good to go at Easter and Christmas, but all the weeks in between matter as well.
The internet is filled with Five Steps to a More Satisfying Marriage … Seven Tips for a Better Sex Life … Three Quick Ways to Increase Your Happiness and Buzzfeed quizzes.
But if you want to deepen your marriage, if you want to grow in intimacy, then make your marriage the focal point of your prayer life and a willful part of your weekly life. Schedule a weekly date night. Take turns planning it. Don’t skip, even if it’s just to take a walk around the neighborhood or split a milk shake at the drive thru McDonald’s.
Make it an obligation to each other. It will be a reminder of the joy promised as part of marriage, bringing you and your spouse closer together, and as a result, closer to God.
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