… Do not grudge
To pick out treasures from an earthen pot.
— George Herbert, The Church Porch, lxxii
Treasure. The word itself is shrouded in a veil of mystery. It’s one thing to talk about “wealth,” “money,” “capital,” or “financial gains.” But treasure is another matter altogether.
Treasure inhabits the misty realms of legend and romance. The very thought of it conjures up images of tombs and pyramids, perilous quests, and dimly lit dragon hoards. Treasure is the object of deep delvings in the earth, the goal of impossible journeys through tangled jungles and over impassable mountains. It’s the word we use to describe things that are not merely valuable in monetary terms but iconic, archetypal, and significant in some profoundly primal sense – things like the Holy Grail or the Lost Ark of the Covenant.
Buried treasure is even better, of course. Its hiddenness only heightens its mystic appeal. This explains the perennial attraction of stories about pirates, uncharted islands, secret caverns, cryptic codes, and antique maps. Time and time again the urge to seek out and dig up buried treasure has become the catalyst for wild adventures, a prelude to the discovery of vast new worlds.
Whether you realize it or not, you are living every day of your life in the presence of a precious hidden treasure. It sits with you at the table and sleeps beside you in bed at night. It’s so close that you can reach out and touch it any time you like. It’s the treasure that lies concealed within the person you chose to marry.
At some point you caught a fleeting glimpse of that treasure. You followed its gleam to the altar and kept your gaze fixed upon it while you and your spouse vowed to love and cherish one another “till death do us part.” Some of its sparkle stuck with you beyond that memorable moment – at least until the honeymoon was over. But if you’re like most couples, you’ve since allowed its luster to become buried beneath the “stuff” of day-to-day existence: work, chores, kids, bills, laundry, meals, and all the little mundane distractions that sometimes make life feel like an interminable grind.
The apostle Paul tells us that a Christian is like an old clay pot. Inside is an indescribable treasure – the treasure of Christ’s eternal glory (2 Corinthians 4:7). But on the outside the pot seems dull and unremarkable. Something similar can be said about marriage partners. At one time each valued the other’s presence far above all the treasures of the earth. Now, time and familiarity have made them appear plain and mundane in one another’s eyes. They’ve lost sight of the hidden mystery that drew them together in the first place.
If that sounds like a description of your marriage, why not use this month’s date night as an opportunity to unearth the treasure and make it shine again? It will take some work, to be sure. But there’s no telling what you may discover once you begin.
It’s time to start digging.
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. Even as you consider the meaning of “healthy conflict” in your marriage, remember to protect your date night by cutting off any real 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: Dig for buried treasure (choose one of the following):
- Why not stage a real-live treasure hunt of your own? This will require a bit of preparation. Prior to your date, think of the qualities that attracted you to your spouse when you first met. Write each one down on a slip of paper and enclose each slip inside a small container of some kind – a plastic Easter egg, for instance, or a pill-bottle, or a ring-box. After dinner, go to a local park. Split up and take some time to hide your “treasures”. Then provide each other with a map or a set of clues and set off on your separate quests. When it’s all over, meet at a predetermined park bench and talk about what you’ve found.
- Remembering is always a very important activity in any kind of relationship. Without it we lose the ability to appreciate and cherish the many wonderful things that have brought us to our present position. You can reignite the flame of romance and uncover the hidden treasures of your relationship by taking an actual, physical trip down memory lane. The idea here is to spend the evening revisiting old haunts – the places you used to frequent back when you were dating or courting. You’d be surprised how a jaunt of this nature can stir sleeping passions and stimulate new discoveries. If you are in a new location, try to find places that remind you of those from bygone days.
Step 3: Relax and unwind.
After your activity, relax and emotionally connect by talking about what you learned during your conversations throughout the evening. 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 intentional in the future about unearthing, cherishing, and celebrating the hidden and mysterious treasures we recognize in one another? What can we do to prevent the routine of life from creating an attitude of boredom about the life we share together?
Step 4: Home Sweet Home
As you drive home, spend time planning your next date. Also, think about additional ways you can rediscover the treasures at the heart of your marriage. Once you get home, however, it’s up to you what happens next. Have a great final adventure!