The Key to a Happy Marriage

It’s a tough subject for men, this thing called marriage – especially cultivating a happy marriage.

We’ll spend immense amounts of time and money on our educations. We’ll devote countless hours to our hobbies. And we’ll lend our souls to a job.

But for many men, marriage is an afterthought. “If she was there this morning, she’ll be there tonight,” more than one man has told himself.

We rely on the strength of a decades-old commitment to keep us together.

Sometimes it works… too often it doesn’t.

But what if there was an easy way to keep the fire burning? What if you didn’t have to spend money on a shrink… didn’t have to read cheesy relationship books… and didn’t have to worry about nurturing some new-age relationship technique to keep that newlywed spark burning?

There is. It’s called dating while married.

And no, you mutt, it’s not about dating somebody else.

And it shouldn’t happen only on Valentine’s Day.

Look, if you got the ring on her finger, you must have done a pretty darn good job at the dating game. You attracted her and fulfilled an emotional need inside her. Eventually you both made an immense commitment.

But then what? Life happened.

Kids, jobs, money… they all end up coming before your marriage. It’s a recipe for trouble.

Skip the First Date

When we first started dating the young lady who would become our wife, things were a bit unusual.

We met in the wilderness of Alaska.

We both worked at the same fishing lodge. I had been there just two days when we met. We went on a “date” every night for the next four months. We had to… we lived on a rock 40 miles from town.

Without movie theaters, fancy restaurants and concert venues, we had what many would say was an “untraditional” dating style. We hiked. We went camping. We watched the ocean. And we talked.

It was very plain. And we were good at it.

Believe it or not, your dating experience is likely similar. Sure, those first few dates were interesting – a dinner and a movie, maybe a show. But it’s those fifth, sixth and seventh dates that really start to count.

In fact, a recent survey showed the majority of women don’t start to feel deep emotions until the sixth date.

That’s worth repeating. Your wife likely didn’t feel emotionally attached to you until you had gone on at least half a dozen dates.

What’s intriguing about this idea is that, if you recall, much of the initial “peacockery” wanes by the sixth or seventh date. At that point, we’re comfortable with the other person, they feel familiar and our dates are more routine – no fancy dinner reservations at a place we’ll never frequent once we’re hitched.

That idea is key.

To keep your marriage alive and healthy today, you must “date” like you did when you first fell in love. Your relationship must be continually reminded of why (and how) you fell in love.

A special once-a-year dinner on Valentine’s Day won’t get the job done.

Sorry.

But at least you can cancel tonight’s dinner reservations.

Get Real

Too many folks take the kids to the sitter and head for a candlelit dinner and a movie. It’s fun, but you won’t fall in love or rekindle the flame. No, to truly keep the sparks flying, you must do more routine, “sixth date” sorts of things.

Go on a hike. Spend a day shopping and planning for a party. Get together with some friends.

Do the sorts of things you did two or three months into your relationship. That’s when you fell in love… and it’s how you’ll stay in love.

It works.

Marriage shouldn’t be complex. It’s easy to overthink it and allow it to get overlooked.

Do a lot of dating while you’re married. But do the sort of dating that counts… not all that fancy first and second date stuff.

Date like you’re falling in love.

And don’t just do it one night each year.

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