Unwrapping the Present

By Greg Smalley
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Studies show that the average couple spends only four minutes per day engaged in meaningful conversation. Four minutes! Can couples really expect to foster intimacy with so little time devoted to positive communication?

There is only one rule for being a good talker: learn to listen.—Christopher Morley

In the first of your “3 Dates in 3 Weeks,” you focused on the past—reminiscing about special memories in your relationship and making lists of the things you admire and appreciate about your spouse.

For your second Date Night, you’re going to focus on the present—the here-and-now. This date is all about fostering positive communication in your marriage on a daily basis. Studies show that the average couple spends only four minutes per day engaged in meaningful conversation. Four minutes! That’s about the length of one song on your iPod. Can couples really expect to foster intimacy with so little time devoted to positive communication?

Keep in mind here, the key word is positive. Perhaps you and your spouse do spend more than four minutes a day talking—but what do you talk about? If you’re like most couples, it’s all business: challenges at work, overcrowded schedules, discipline issues with the kids, and other pressing concerns. This type of communication is necessary, of course, but it’s not the way to foster a close bond. It’s more like a business meeting. Over time, spouses can condition each other to believe that it’s not very fun or safe to engage in conversation, because it always results in stress and arguments. And so they give up talking altogether.

Good communication requires an active effort. It involves setting aside time to engage in life-giving conversation that doesn’t revolve around administrating your household and solving problems. Rather, it allows you the opportunity to open up with one another—to share your hearts and to be vulnerable. It fosters closeness and intimacy even as you encounter the challenges of daily life. The goal is to stay current with one another and remain curious about your spouse without letting every conversation devolve into a business meeting.

 Date Night

Remember: always act like you’re trying to get a second date! Whether you’ve been married two weeks or 20 years, it’s important to “woo” your spouse. Dress up a bit. Wear that nice perfume or cologne. Be polite and open doors. Be affectionate—hold hands, cuddle and steal kisses. Protect your date night from conflict by setting aside arguments and agreeing to talk about those issues 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 fun.

Remember, couples who engage in fun, interesting and new activities report higher levels of overall marital satisfaction. Consider one of the following pursuits, or plan your own: 

  • Play putt-putt golf or Frisbee golf. 
  • Attend a sporting event. 
  • Go to the arcade for some good old-fashioned Pac Man or Ms. Pac Man! 
  • Try ice skating, roller skating, or horseback riding. 
  • Visit a local zoo, museum or amusement park. 
  • If you’re feeling really adventurous, and you have the time and money, consider bungee jumping, sky diving, or indoor climbing!

Step 3: Relax and unwind.

After your activity, go someplace quiet for dessert or coffee. 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 other ways we can stay current with one another and regularly engage in positive communication?

Step 4: Home Sweet Home.

As you drive home, spend time planning your next date. Also, think about other ways you might foster intimacy through regular, meaningful conversation. Once you get home, however, it’s up to you what happens next. Have a great final adventure!

Download Printable PDF Here

© 2014 Focus on the Family.

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