Cindy and I celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary this summer, which means I have been married to my best friend now for more than half of my life. She stole my heart the minute I laid eyes on her in Chapel Hill in 1981. I asked her to marry me on our second date; I was that sure that she was the one. She was, ahem, not as sure as I.
We got married in the summer of 1982 and lived on love for the first few years. As an advertising sales representative for the Times-News married to a stay-at-home wife, I wasn’t exactly known for my financial prowess.
As the years rolled on, seven children came into the picture and life got busier and crazier, Cindy and I have maintained one simple practice that has made all the difference in our marriage: We have kept the weekly date alive.
Every week, usually on a Friday night, you will find us out together for a few hours. In the days when our oldest child was younger than 12, it was difficult sometimes to find, or to afford, a babysitter. But God supplied. One year there were two teenage girls who offered to come every Friday afternoon and watch our children and even do some housework while Cindy and I went on a date. The Lord knew just what we needed in that season of our life, and he provided. Since our oldest turned 12 more than 16 years ago, we have not needed babysitters. The children looked forward to when Mom and Dad were going on a date; they would put together a simple meal for themselves and watch a good movie together.
Our dates have not always required money. I remember many times when we just went to Elon and walked on the campus and talked, or we played tennis somewhere or just prepared a special meal and had a date at home.
One thing I have learned over the years is that what my wife needs more than anything on our dates is communication, and to know that I love her and that she is my No. 1 priority. If our dates end up being a problem-solving session with something that’s going on with me at the church, then one or both of us come away feeling like we didn’t really have a date at all. One thing my wife has learned is that, most of the time, the last thing I want to do on our dates is shop. My idea of a good time does not have WalMart anywhere in it.
Solomon called marriage “a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters.” Amen! I am thankful for the beauty and the refreshment that comes from a happy marriage. There is nothing so satisfying on this side of heaven.
J. Mark Fox is the author of “A Faithful Man” and the pastor of Antioch Community Church on Power Line Road in Elon. You can Tweet him @jmarkfox and can find all of Mark’s books on Amazon or other online sellers. Email Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org