I decided to write a to-the-point article that is a must read for anyone who is married! My article is based on counseling couples since 1993. Yes, it’s been that many years already, if I can believe it! Although there are things that change through the years in the mental health/wellness and counseling industry, although the needs of clients may make shifts through time, there is one thing that has stayed the same. And that is: if you don’t water the plant of marriage it will wither away and die! DATE YOUR MATE!!!
In my book: ‘Dr. Karen’s Marriage Manual’ I share my water the plant of marriage philosophy and provide 40 must do practical tips if you want your marriage to not simply survive, rather to thrive at any phase and stage; from newlyweds to 30+ years of marriage. In addition I share 29 marital destroyers. A top marital destroyer is a lack of paying attention to one’s mate and to the marital whole. Yes, a lack of paying attention to one’s mate is marital suicide. In my work with my clients in my private practice based in Massachusetts, I share with them that it is common for marriages over time to become a business partnership, lacking the marital passion. For those of us who are married (this May it’ll be 21 years of marriage for me), you know what I mean by the business aspect of marriage. The business of household chores, the business of attending to the children’s needs/schedules, etc. If you make the choice to ‘date your mate’ that is one important way to experience the attention-connection couples need to feel bonded, not just as a business (e.g., the business of parenting, the business of running the house). It is imperative for couples to feel connected as a couple unit!
If the couple unit is strong, that in turn will have positive affects on the mental health and wellness of one’s individual self, the couple whole, and one’s children. In my second publication: ’10 Seconds To Mental Health’ I provide over 200 inspirational quotes and tips that help people with their personal health, marriage/relationship health, parenting health and professional health. For the choices we make and take action on each day in our interaction with the important people around us (e.g., our mate), it affects our own mental health, those around us, and the relationships we are in as a whole.
Making the time and taking the time for the marriage will not only help it to remain strong so it can weather the storms that come (as all marriages experience challenges and turbulence throughout the years, ranging from health issues to external problems out of the couple’s control, to relational disharmony…), making the time and taking the time for the marriage will truly help it to feel healthy. Without genuine and consistent attention to the marriage, it does not grow, blossom and enhance. So, ‘make the time and take the time for your marriage!’
When you ‘date your mate’, that means you are spending actual quality time together. Here’s the thing: if your mate is always the one setting up the sitter and/or making the suggestion as to where to eat and/or making the reservations where to eat, change that pattern and be mindful of you taking action not just 1x or 2x, rather be a part of the scheduling team for organizing and arranging and scheduling the date. It is not just about where you go or what you do that matters, for many couples, it is about feeling like your mate takes the initiative to get together. This shows that he/she cares enough to put in the effort, not just shows up.
Now, let’s address that for many couples, what you do does matter. Please allow me to take a moment to explain. Dinner and a movie is lovely, and basic. Do this basic, it’s awesome, but not just this basic as your only date your mate outing. Dating your mate needs creativity. Think about friendships. How do friendships grow? They do fun things together, right? They mix it up, enjoy different activities thereby enjoying spending time with that person. Marriage is just like that. In order to have the opportunity to experience your mate in different enjoyable contexts, you must go and do – live in different enjoyable contexts. So, go to a comedy club, go painting together, take a dance class, rent a hotel room even if you are not staying overnight if you have to get back to the kids, take a cooking class. These are just a few examples to make a point, please consider what are some ideas that would be enjoyable for your couple.
‘Date your mate’ is not just about spending time together. This marital philosophy also means you must take the time to woo the other person. It means you are taking the time to express your desire for and interest in the other person, not simply because they share a life with you, a home with you, and children with you. When you date your mate it is not simply just about going out somewhere special. Yes, it includes going to special places together as mentioned above. Though, dating your mate is a marital philosophy of doing special things for your mate because you want to. You remember when people first date right? Do you remember those days when you are mindful of what you can do for your mate, not because you “have to”, rather because you are excited to? Well, bring that back baby! Every day I tell ya, yes, every day, do one thing that shows your mate he/she is special, appreciated, respected, and is valued and loved.
The ‘date your mate’ philosophy is about implementing the 3 legs of marriage I write about in my book: Dr. Karen’s Marriage Manual. The ‘date your mate’ philosophy of implementing these 3 legs is what I share with my clients. What are the 3 legs of marriage you are wondering? The answer: be mindful of assuring in your marriage you initiate: 1) emotional intimacy, 2) physical intimacy, and 3) sexual intimacy with an overall stool top of healthy communication with your mate not at your mate forever and always bringing trust to the table.
From this marriage therapist to you – ‘date your mate’. Don’t wait for your spouse to take action. Take ownership of what YOU can do today for the health and wellness of the marriage.