After 32 years of marriage, Brett and Kate Ryan from Focus on the Family know a thing or two about relationships. They joined us recently on Rise & Shine to share their perspective on the significance of date nights for couples.
Kate says one of the most important things we need to do is continue to pursue our spouse. It’s a constant declaration of your love, and it’s a constant learning about who your spouse is. Because we all change with every season we go through.
“Whether it’s sickness, children, jobs, empty nesting or menopause, it doesn’t matter,” says Kate. “Life changes and we need to keep learning and being a student of our spouse. Doing romantic things like date nights mean you have to think about doing something special. We need to keep showing our spouse that we see them as special and a priority.”
Brett says that often our spouses can feel taken for granted. This happens especially when life is busy with children and work, and we need to make sure it doesn’t go unnoticed. One thing Brett and Kate do is celebrate their marriage throughout the year.
“When kids see that mum and dad are in love it makes them feel secure,” Brett says. “It’s the greatest gift that you can give to your kids, because they’re going to see what you do and take it to their own relationships. You’re setting up a God honouring legacy of marriage that it’s worthwhile, and that it’s exciting to do life together.”
Brett and Kate take turns every year planning their anniversary, and give each other little clues that create some anticipation. “We’ve had some successes and we’ve had some failures,” Kate says. “But they’re all great memories.”
Brett says it’s important that you celebrate your marriage more than once a year, and that’s why date nights are so important. And they don’t have to be expensive. It’s about putting in the time and effort to let your spouse know you’re thinking of them.
“One of the greatest things you can do,” says Brett, “is write down all the things that you love about your spouse. And on those days when you don’t feel like you’re as loving as you could be, it’s good to return to that list. Maybe you don’t necessarily like your spouse right now, but you still know all the reasons that you love them.”
Brett and Kate’s daughter-in-law recently did something similar for their son. “It’s not even the end result of them giving that to you that’s important,” says Kate. “It’s the fact that they’ve sat down and thought this through as to why they love you. They’ve taken the time, and that’s the thing that touches the heart of the other person.”
To hear more from Brett and Kate, you can sign up for their ‘Real life, Real Love’ marriage course online. They encourage couples to set aside one hour per week to talk about their marriage, and to invest in their relationship.
“It’s one of the most important things you can do, for yourself as well as your spouse”, Brett says.