"Saints cannot exist without a community, as they require, like all of us, nurturance by a people who, while often unfaithful, preserve the habits necessary to learn the story of God."
Thriving couples cannot exist in a vacuum. They understand that isolation is a threat to any marriage—and they embrace the idea that in good times and bad, they need other people, just as other people need them. Of course, one-on-one time is vitally important. That's what Date Nights are all about! But it's also imperative that couples are intentional about connecting regularly with other like-minded couples. They should make a point of staying engaged with nurturing communities of all kinds—service organizations, social clubs, and common interest groups. In particular, they must endeavor to maintain an active involvement in their local church, where they have many opportunities to give and receive spiritual support.
Church fellowship is especially important because it involves both give and take. Even the healthiest of couples rely on the support of their brothers and sisters in Christ from time to time. And they also recognize that they have a responsibility to help other couples thrive. This might involve serving as mentors to a newly married couple, or coming alongside a husband and wife who are facing a particular struggle in their relationship. The author of Hebrews sums it up this way: "Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV). This interconnectedness, this give-and-take, is what community is all about.
Make it a double! Or a triple! This date's focus on community affords you the perfect opportunity to phone up another couple—or couples—and enjoy a group date. Once you've got a group together, however, the regular Date Night principles apply:
Remember, always act like you're trying to get a second date! Sometimes in marriage we forget that we need to pursue and "woo" our spouse. So dress up a bit. Be polite and open doors. Compliment one another. Be affectionate – hold hands, cuddle and steal kisses. Remember to protect your date night from conflict by cutting off any arguments and agreeing to talk about the issue at a later time. (In the context of a group date, this also means avoiding the temptation to talk about your childrearing or career woes with other couples. There's certainly a time and place for that, but the focus of Date Night should always be fun.)
Step 1: Go someplace different for dinner.
Instead of visiting the same familiar locations and eating the same old food, pick somewhere new or try a different type of cuisine.
Step 2: Put your heads together.
Talk with the other couple(s) to determine a fun group activity for Date Night. Here are some possibilities:
- Go bowling or play miniature golf or laser tag. Consider dividing into teams, either guys against girls, couple against couple, or every man for himself!
- Enjoy an old-fashioned game night. Play Monopoly, Risk, or another fun board game. Or break out the console system and compete in Mario Kart or Guitar Hero!
- Engage in a community service project. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Yes, this type of activity can, in fact, be fun.
- Raise money for charity. With Christmas approaching, inquire with local retailers about the possibility of setting up a gift wrapping table. Ask for donations in return for your gift wrapping skills, and give the proceeds to charity.
Step 3: Relax and unwind. Ready for a few questions?
After you bid a fond farewell to the other couple(s), find a quiet place for dessert or coffee to relax and emotionally connect through good conversation. Answer the following questions. Be sure to keep your responses positive, uplifting and encouraging.
- What was your favorite part of the evening?
- What is the one thing you learned tonight that you didn't know about me before?
- How can we be more community-minded and invest in the lives of other couples in the days and weeks ahead?
Step 5: Home Sweet Home
Spend time planning your next date. Think about additional ways you can share your lives with others—and let them share their lives with you. Then, it's up to you what happens next. Have a great final adventure!