Remembering the Past

By Greg Smalley
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Focus on the Family
Sometimes, the sweetest, most tender memories are those that happened during moments that were unplanned and that may seem unremarkable to the casual observer.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.—Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The first Date Night in your 3 Dates in 3 Weeks adventure is all about reminiscing. And you’ll both need to do a bit of advance preparation before heading out on your date.

When we think of reminiscing, we often remember those really big events from marriage: the wedding day, the birth of a child, a dream vacation, and so on. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. But what about the little things—those everyday occasions in married and family life that aren’t accompanied by a great deal of fanfare? Sometimes, the sweetest, most tender memories are those that happened during moments that were unplanned and that may seem unremarkable to the casual observer.

Before heading out on your date, spend time apart thinking about some of those special occasions with your spouse, whether big or small. From “events” such as the night you got engaged, to mundane tasks such as doing yard work together, consider the unique qualities and character traits of your spouse that made those moments special. What is it about your spouse that made these times magical? Was it his sense of humor? Her love for adventure? His thoughtfulness? Her compassionate heart? As you recall the special memories, make a list. Write down five things you appreciate and admire about your spouse, and then take that list on your date with you.

Pastor Ted Cunningham has written at length about these types of lists. And he learned the practice from Dr. Gary Smalley. Here’s what Gary says about “honor lists” in Ted’s book Fun Loving You: “They are key to keeping honor high in marriage. Reading through these lists keeps me sane, in love, and having fun. Whenever Norma and I are in disagreement, I go to the honor list. It only takes reading a few lines for me to remind myself why I love that woman.”

Remember, work on your lists separately and individually, and then bring them on your date!


DATE NIGHT

The first rule of Date Night is this: 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.

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: Do something that stirs up old memories.

Perhaps you had a favorite coffee shop when you were first dating in Louisville. Even though you live in Denver now, see if you can find a similar coffee shop that helps recall those early days. Or maybe your first date was at a bowling alley. Go bowling again and relive the experience! Or perhaps it’s something as simple as a park, hiking trail, or even a shopping mall that you haven’t visited in a while that holds special memories. Visit it again and talk about the good old days!

Step 3: Relax and unwind.

After your activity, go someplace quiet for dessert or coffee. Take out your lists and exchange them. Take turns talking about the five qualities or characteristics on your respective lists that you cherish about your spouse, and the memories associated with them. When you’re done, 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?
  • What are some of our favorite things we used to do as a couple prior to marriage and early in our marriage?
  • Can we start doing some of those again, even with the realities of our busier lifestyle?

Step 4: Home Sweet Home.

As you drive home, spend time planning your next date. Think about additional ways you can build special memories in the days ahead—and be prepared to add to the list of things you cherish about your spouse as they come to mind. Once you get home, however, it’s up to you what happens next. Have a great final adventure!

Click Here to Download the PDF Version

© 2014 Focus on the Family.

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Greg Smalley

Dr. Greg Smalley serves as the Vice President of Marriage at Focus on the Family. In this role, he develops and oversees initiatives that prepare individuals for marriage, strengthen and nurture existing marriages and help couples in marital crises. Prior to joining Focus, Smalley worked for the Center for Relationship Enrichment at John Brown University and as President of the …

You May Also Like

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.


If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.