Welcome I’ve heard the marriage advice. I’ve read the magazine articles and blog posts. I’ve seen how it impacts other couples. So why is it so incredibly hard for my husband and I to make those dates? I don’t think it’s us, I think it’s the mindset. The word “dating” brings up so many different emotions and images, some positive, some painful, and some downright cheesy. So many of us fall into the mindset that we don’t need to date our spouses anymore. After all, wasn’t the original purpose of dating to seek out a potential mate? We begin to think that dating is for the younger crowd or we’ll look foolish fawning over our mate. Then there’s the complication of schedules, kids, fatigue, and finances. You know what we call that? Real life! But in my real life, I want my husband to know I’m still as interested in pursuing him today as I was exactly 16 years ago today when we first met. Take my advice today and schedule that date!
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Food For Thought Yep, that’s right. Exactly sixteen years ago today, I met my husband. If you would like to know more about that amazing story of faith and patience, please check out my post, Lady in Waiting. Today, however, I’m talking about how we try to still date each other, in the midst of a life filled with jobs, commitments, a child, and, honestly, getting older.
People make their jokes about old married couples sitting on the couch to watch TV, only to fall asleep and become completely out of touch with each other. Sadly, it happens. My husband works out in the heat all day, so when he gets home to the nice air conditioning, he relishes a snooze on the couch. When I was teaching kindergarten, especially at the beginning of the school year, I would equally enjoy an evening nap on the couch. Our daughter’s schedule keeps us busy, too, so when we have a weekend without any scheduled activities, it’s nice to just binge watch our recorded television from the week.
Yes, we are technically together, but this isn’t “dating.” Dating means “wooing.” Dating is communicating to the other person, “I’m really interested in you and what you have going on in your life.” Dating is convincing them they are the most interesting, special, attractive, talented person in the world. They are, right? I mean, that’s why I married my husband. To me, he is the most interesting, special, attractive, talented person in the world. But I need to continue to let him know that my feelings haven’t changed. And I’d really appreciate it if he’d let me know the same thing. That’s where the “date your spouse” philosophy comes in.
I always hear the advice about scheduling date nights. We have tried several different methods to apply this strategy. We’ve bought calendars and planners to pre-plan date nights or days. We’ve purchased dating “kits” for married couples. We’ve made the date jar. It seems no matter what we try, something interrupts our good intentions. My husband is better at going with the flow when this happens, but I get a little bent out of shape. But something I’ve learned after 14 years of marriage is, communicating my feelings is much better than pouting! This exact thing happened to us this summer.
Some seasons of life are just crazy. We had a really busy spring and then as school was ending, we were met with one mini-crisis after another. Car repairs, tree damage from a storm, busted water heater, plumbing, roofing, and on and on. I also got a terrible case of poison oak that had me basically out of commission for three weeks. And we were not the only ones in the family dealing with these issues. So, my husband and I went through June without any quality time alone together. Our wedding anniversary is at the end of May, so we had our anniversary date then, but as mid-July approached I told my husband, “I’m getting restless. We need to do something together soon.” It’s probably no surprise that my love language is Quality Time!
Here’s the thing about my wonderful, amazing husband. He’s not a planner. He’d rather just go with the flow and let things just happen. But after being married this long I know this approach ends with us rarely going out for “couple time.” I, however, am a planner. Partly because I like to get my ducks in a row, but I also like to have something to look forward to. When something is on the calendar, I can look to that to get me through the days that are a little tougher or less exciting. When I told my husband I needed some couple time with him, he simply responded with “okay.” He would have happily left it at that, but I knew better. I got out my phone calendar and picked a weekend when we didn’t have any family or church activities scheduled, which was only about five days away. I put it in the calendar and told him he had to keep the appointment.
Our next dilemma was deciding what to do. My husband loves movies, and I like them too, but I’ve told him several times, we can do other things! So we brought out the “date jar.” If you would like to see, and possibly make, a date jar, check out my DIY page. We pulled out one of our yellow cards and it said “active date.” Perfect. Too hot to go hiking or biking and too expensive to go the grown-up arcade place (remember all those breakdowns this summer?) We selected mini-golf. We had not been in a lot of years, it’s cheap, and it brought back good memories because we used to go mini-golf when we were dating. We also picked a casual Mexican restaurant for lunch and did a little shopping. On our way home we stopped for cherry vanilla cokes.
The point isn’t what we did, how long we were gone, or how much money we spent. The point is we got away from grown-up responsibilities for a few hours on the weekend and were able to reconnect. This is the importance of dating your spouse! We talked and laughed and spent the afternoon not worrying about all the things we needed to fix on our house or cars. And a few hours can make a big difference. Sure, a weekend getaway or big vacation is always nice, but don’t underestimate what a simple afternoon or evening out can do for you, as a couple. I cannot emphasize it enough, but never stop dating your spouse!
Today’s Recipe As I mentioned, our July date included lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. My husband LOVES Mexican-inspired food. Seriously, I could make it every day and I think he’d be okay with that. I’m right there with him, too. However, with my tomato allergy I have to stay away from tomato-based sauces and salsas. Bummer! But that’s okay, because I have learned that salsa verde or green sauce can be quite tasty. Over the weekend I made my husband this recipe for Chicken, Onion, and Cream Cheese Enchiladas with Verde Sauce. I think this is an easy and flavorful enchilada recipes. It’s super cheesy and I use the large burrito-size tortillas, so it’s rich and filling. And it sure makes my hubby happy!
Chicken, Onion, and Cream Cheese Enchiladas (makes 6 LARGE enchiladas with sauce)
Note: If you have precooked chicken breasts from weekly meal prep or leftovers, this dish comes together pretty quickly. If you need to boil your chicken, as I explain in the recipe, you will need to add an extra 30 minutes or so.
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about a pound)
- 1 can low-sodium chicken broth (I often make my own stock, so I usually use about two cups that I have on hand.)
- 2 bay leaves
- 5-6 whole peppercorns
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 2 celery stalks, with greens
- 1 TBS butter
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- salt and pepper
- 1 TBS minced garlic (I buy jarred minced garlic in the produce section because it’s always ready to use.)
- 1 8-oz pkg. cream cheese (I like to use the whipped cream cheese in this recipe because it melts into the chicken smoothly.)
- 1 28-oz can green enchilada sauce (I buy the big can at Aldi’s, but I usually have a little bit left over for another recipe, such as Huevos Rancheros.)
- 6 large flour tortillas (I use burrito-size and make large enchiladas, but you can use smaller tortillas, just fill with smaller amounts of chicken.)
- 3 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
- 3 green onions, diced
- 1 TBS fresh cilantro, chopped
In medium saucepan, place chicken, broth, bay leaves, pepper corns, small onion, and celery. Bring to a boil. Turn off heat and cover with lid and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Remove chicken to cutting board and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, chop the chicken finely. My favorite two products for this step is my Casabella Silicone Cutting Boards, in a set of four, one exclusively for poultry, and my Calphalon Self-Sharpening Knives Classic Set with Block.
In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add diced onion and give a dash of salt and a couple grinds of fresh cracked black pepper; allow to cook about five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook another minute or two. Stir in cream cheese, 1/4 cup enchilada sauce, and the chopped chicken. Once all ingredients are incorporated and cream cheese has melted, remove from heat.
Turn oven to 350 degrees and spray 9×13 casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Add 1/2 cup enchilada sauce to bottom of dish and spread evenly. Take each of the six tortillas and spread about 1/3 cup of chicken filling over the middle of the tortilla. Fold the ends of the tortilla in, then roll the tortilla tightly over the filling. Place filled tortillas seam-side down in prepared dish. Top with shredded cheese and remaining enchilada sauce. Garnish with green onions and cilantro. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 5-10 minutes until cheese has completely melted. Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with sour cream, salsa, and sliced avocado, if desired.