There’s a younger man in my office who recently became engaged. He met his now-fiancé in high school and had been dating her for the past 12+ years. When he told me he had proposed, I congratulated him then asked if he’d like a little piece of advice.
“Of course,” he replied.
I said, “Never stop dating each other.”
He looked at me incredulously. “What? I’ve been dating her for over 12 years! I want to marry her!”
“Oh, I’m not saying you shouldn’t get married,” I replied. “I’m just saying never stop dating each other.”
He stared at me with a look of puzzlement on his face. Clearly, I had some explaining to do.
Never stop wooing each other
“Relationships end too soon because people stop putting in the same effort to keep you, as they did to win you.” – Unknown
When we’re first dating, there are many things we do to woo someone. Maybe it’s flowers and chocolates. Maybe it’s a foot massage. Maybe it’s a ukulele serenade under their window. Whatever those things are, keep doing them or invent adaptations of them. We need to do our best to keep each other’s love buckets full. Never stop doing the things we did to woo each other in the first place.
Never stop taking care of yourself
Taking care of our minds, bodies, and souls is a healthy thing to do whether we’re in a relationship or not. When we’re in the dating phase, we often put our best foot forward with these efforts. Once we’re married, it’s important to continue this by taking the time to exercise, eat right, and stay healthy. Whether it’s getting out for a run or having some quiet time to meditate, both people need to take the time to keep their minds, bodies, and souls fit. When we take care of ourselves, we are better able to care for each other.
Never stop the flirty communication
We’ve probably all heard about the importance of open and honest communication in a relationship. Talking about serious topics and daily tasks is critical, but it’s also good to keep up the playful stuff too. This is one way to keep the passion alive. Over time, passion may wax and wane and that’s okay. What’s important is to always keep an ember in the fire. One of the ways to keep it alive is to continue the compliments we gave and playful banter we had when things were fresh and new. Communicating regularly to our partners that we find them attractive, desirable, and lovable keeps the home fires burning.
Never stop doing what you love
Once we say “I do”, it’s important to continue doing the things we love to do together and the things we love to do apart. Did love blossom over a tennis court? Keep those rackets swinging or find another activity to enjoy together. On the flip side, we often have groups or friends we get together with for activities we love that our partner might not enjoy. It’s a good thing to continue with these activities and relationships as well. The experiences we have outside our love relationship help to keep us well-rounded. Our partner cannot and should not fill all our needs. Doing the things we love to do makes us happier people.
Never stop date night
When we’re dating, we always seem to find the time to spend alone with the other person. Continue to find the time to be together. This doesn’t have to be extended trips or expensive dinners out, although these can certainly be included. It can be as simple as taking a weekly walk through a local park or working a Sunday morning crossword puzzle together. The point is to have some dedicated time together every week. If necessary, block out a set time and day on the calendar to make sure it happens.
Never stop learning about each other
As a big proponent of curiosity, I think one of the most important things to continue doing after we walk down the aisle is to keep learning about each other. As we grow older, we may pick up new activities or discover new things about ourselves. Staying curious keeps us engaged and invested in each other. Keep asking questions and keep listening to the answers. There will always be something new to learn.
Bottom line is—never take each other or the relationship for granted. Remember that you don’t just get married, you ARE married. It’s not a check the box and you’re done kinda thing. It’s an ongoing, evolving, needs attention and work kinda thing.
So by all means, get married!
Just never stop dating each other.