We started a new series with our weekly marriage blogs last week. If you missed last week’s post, Date Night Part 1 “Elevator Talk”, click on the link and get caught up.
As stated, “Date nights” were always important to me and Anne before we were married. That was the starting point of our relationship where we learned EVERYTHING we needed to know.
But that’s where couples stop dating. The ring goes on and the pursuit stops (after the honeymoon stage). Every season you go through as a couple presents changes in you. Honeymoon, babies, young children, adolescence, job changes, family shifts, empty-nest are just a few of the seasons we go through in marriage that demand “dates”. They (the seasons) demand time together that foster communication, intimacy, fun, and rest.
This is the essence of this blog series.
Part 2 – In the Air Tonight
If you’re wondering, yes I got the title from one of my favorite music artists Phil Collins. I can’t say much for the horrible 80’s video. But it’s the title that came to mind when thinking about the subject of Part 2 of our series: Atmosphere.
Have you ever come home to a house where the atmosphere wasn’t what you thought it was? After a great day at work, I’ve walked in the door noticing something about the atmosphere of our home. As I’m walking up the stairs into our living room, I say to myself, “there’s something in the air tonight.” The place is quiet. There’s tension in the room. Nobody is talking or moving. I come to find out there had been a “disagreement” between my wife and my daughter. What was a pretty joyful day has now been transformed to guarded tension. I’m not sure what happened, but the atmosphere sets the tone and mood for any events and/or plans.
Atmosphere is sorely underestimated. One of the many things I learned yesterday at a conference was setting the tone/atmosphere of a room before communicating. It not only gives you a platform to communicate the necessary information but aids and/or guides what is being said as to be as effective as possible. As much as this works in sermons, presentations, conflict, and child-rearing, it is essential in marriage…specifically today in our conversation on dating our spouse.
For you scientific peeps, atmosphere (thank you wikipedia) is a layer of gases surrounding a material body of sufficient mass that is held in place by the gravity of the body. Earth’s atmosphere, which contains oxygen, also protects living organisms from genetic damage by solar ultraviolet radiation. For the non-scientific peeps, atmosphere is simply a covering of gases to protect life and help life to survive.
(Just stick with my “nerdy-ness” for a second…it will all make sense.)
Atmosphere has three characteristics:
1 – It protects. The atmosphere guards us from harmful things form the outside as well as keeps a healthy climate for growth.
2 – Sustains life. Atmosphere provides air for plants and animals to breath. Without it, there is no life.
3 – Multi-layered. Earth’s atmosphere is broken up into five layers. Each layer carries its own purpose and function.
Carrying and caring about the atmosphere of our post-marriage dating is no different from those three characteristics. Especially if you are the one planning the date, it is vital you establish “atmosphere.” Don’t underestimate it. Don’t overlook it’s importance. It will set you up for dating success or failure.
Can we get EXTREMELY practical with this?
Think about it…providing a proper atmosphere for dates with your spouse...
1. Protects your time with him/her. If your marriage needs a quiet night out where you two need to talk and reconnect, and you chose to go to Buffalo Wild Wings during a Monday Night Football game, the atmosphere will destroy what you set out to do (it would work for me). Yet, if you two need to go out for a fun evening of activity and laughter, a quiet candlelight dinner may not conducive to protect what is needed for your marriage. The atmosphere sets the tone for the evening and protects what is needing to happen on your date. This is easy as doing some simple steps:
– Plan ahead. Spontaneity is okay. But some spouses stress over some details. Take stress out by planning.
– Plan what to wear and communicate it. If you’re heading to a comedy club and she’s dressed for a fancy dinner, it’ll ruin the night.
– Talk about what to expect. Build some anticipation with your spouse. Get excited about the date.
– Be other centered. Plan the evening so that you are not the beneficiary of the entirety of the date. Avoid the location/activity that you most want to do.
2. Sustains the life of your marriage. Dates should be places to catch your breath. But more than that; they are places to get fresh breath into you. Some people don’t take this seriously. “We don’t have time to date..we have kids/jobs/responsibilities.” I will say in response: you make time for the things that are important. Just as much as the physical atmosphere provides air for plants and animals to breath. Your atmosphere of post-wedding dating will do the same. During the date, it will breath into your marriage…
– The priority of your spouse.
– Dedication to a healthy marital relationship.
– A resurgence of intimacy.
– A healthy view to your children. They will see and reproduce it in their future marriage.
3. Dating atmosphere is multi-layered. What I mean by that has nothing to do with the exosphere or the troposphere. It has everything to do with knowing that one type of atmosphere doesn’t fit EVERY date. Anne and I do a variety of stuff. Why? We have a variety of needs. Sometimes we go to a movie. Early in our marriage, we’d get Taco Bell and walk through a furniture store (yep…you read that right…we like looking at furniture). The more you communicate, the more you’ll see that a careful care of your dating atmosphere will maximize your dating experience. For the guys reading this, I’m not saying it’ll promise more sex (even thought that’s never a bad thing), but it promise a profitable dating experience.
You need to keep the atmosphere multi-layered. Don’t do the same thing all the time. Shake it up.
– Go out and laugh.
– Absorb a moment together.
– Take a walk through a trail.
– Do something you used to do before you got married.
– Find a place to make-out. (just checking to see if you were paying attention…but hey, you’re married! Who’s gonna argue?)
As I conclude, I look to some encouragement from scripture. I’ve always been very passionate about the Psalms. In Psalms 63, the writer pens his feelings about the atmosphere that God provides. “You’ve always given me breathing room, a place to get away from it all, A lifetime pass to your safe-house, an open invitation as your guest. You’ve always taken me seriously, God, made me welcome among those who know and love you.” I know that I cannot provide the proper atmosphere for my wife without knowing and experiencing the atmosphere the Lord provides. Why do I know what to provide for my wife? I learned it from Jesus. His presence is a place for me to “breath” and “a place to get away from it all.” I just take what He has shown me and I pour it into my marriage. Sometimes I miss the mark. Sometimes I screw up. But effort and passion help provide a great base of building a great dating atmosphere.
Provide an “atmosphere” for your dates. Provide that place that will protect and sustain your husband/wife. Let them be blown away what is “in the air tonight.”
Thanks for letting me ramble…