What Have You Done For Me Lately

Have you ever been engaged in a heated debate with your spouse and all the sudden it turns into a review of the most recent things that each of you has done for the other lately?

If you are like most couples, you have experienced this phenomenon at some point in your relationship.  Why do we do it?

Is there a rule book of marriage somewhere that states that each spouse must keep a running record of what you do for each other or for the household?  There is no written rule but, when we get our feelings all bunched up in a wad, the list seems to magically appear.  It is almost like playing a video game and you stumble upon some ramboammo packs when you're on your last magazine clip.  The next thing you know, you look like Rambo firing openly about all of the things you have done for the other.

Do we really feel like our marriage relationship is always going to be equal amounts of give and take?  Are we only serving our spouse's needs in an "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" type fashion?

If we only do things for our spouse so that they will do something for us in return, we have the wrong attitude. That would be an example of self-serving.

If you find that you have become a score keeper in your marriage, it might be time to reflect on some higher relationship goals.  Throw that scorepad away and serve each other out of love.  Each of you has different needs that you want to be met.  The expectation for fulfilling those needs will probably vary in reality, like so many other things in life.

Focusing on our own needs will only leave us feeling empty and lacking.  Let us chose to follow the example of Christ in our relationship and abandon our own wants, needs, and desires, and focus on meeting the needs of our mate.

Personally, I feel the greatest joy when I have served my wife well and know that I have met her deepest needs.  The look on her face when I know that I have really done something that has touched her heart in a way that she won't forget brings me so much more joy in my life than having my personal needs met.  Do this often and freely enough with each other and no one in the relationship will suffer.  The joy comes from serving, not from being served.

I know that there are those who may feel like they are doing this and their spouse gives nothing in return.  This is certainly a real situation that people struggle with.  What if my spouse never meets my needs?  If you are a believer in Christ, how does He feel when we do nothing for Him?  He gave all, including His life so that we could live free from the bondage of sin and death and have life eternally with Him.  Yet we continually reject Him and pursue our own selfish desires.

Does He abandon us in search of a new person that would appreciate the gift He has given?  He remains constant in His love for us and never changes His mind about it.

Galatians 6:9 NLT

So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up.

If we focus our efforts on doing what is right, God promises a harvest from our labor if we don't give up.  As a husband, I have a God-given mandate to love my wife as Christ loves the church (Eph 5:25-33).  He didn't write in a pass for me if Heather doesn't respect me.  I'm bound to my covenant with her that I made before God and men.  My marriage has never suffered due to my acting according to God's commands.  It has suffered when I acted outside of it and sought selfish goals.

Disclaimer:

Our messages are aimed at helping average Christian married couples who are struggling with their relationship and seek to find biblical ways to improve. We are NOT talking about toxic relationships where a spouse is being abused and is in danger.

If you are in a relationship and your life or the life of your children are in danger due to abuse, get out and get help immediately. The National Domestic Violence Hotline can help you get to safety.  

1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or
1-800-787-3224 (TTY) for Deaf and har of hearing

10 Low-cost Dating Ideas

Dancing

When a couple meets and agrees to begin a relationship, they usually conduct the relationship meetings through dating.  This is a form of relationship building that is common throughout most of the modern world.  Scheduling a pickup time or a meeting location and then share a meal, watch a movie, have a cup of coffee, or any number of activities and events.  The point of the dating relationship is to get to know each other better.  There is usually a lot of talking that takes place as each person seeks to know and understand the other better and how they operate.

It is common advice from marriage counselors and authors that couples should continue the dating ritual throughout their married life.  We thought that we would offer up some low-cost ideas on dating for after you've been married a while.

1) Long Walk

Perhaps the cheapest things that most any couple can do together. A walk around the neighborhood, a stroll in a local park, or along a beach front. Holding her hand and dreaming about your life's adventure together can engage both of you on an emotional level while strengthening your relationship. We get so busy trying to deal with the daily challenges of life that we can forget to connect with our mate. Men, she needs you to hear what she has to say. She has deep feelings and emotions that may even be difficult for you to comprehend. You may not understand at all and that's okay. She's usually not looking for you to solve problems for her. She really just wants to be heard. We, as men, want to swoop in with the solution and fix it for her. That is a perfect way to get her to stop talking to you about what she is feeling inside. This casual time of walking, talking, and holding hands can allow you both the opportunity to relax and share your thoughts and ideas about life. Go ahead and get out there. Give it a shot and see if you can find a rhythm in walking together. You will probably find it is more gratifying than a more elaborate date night. You could have a daily date night with this one or several times a week free of charge.

2) Couch Cuddling and a Movie

Put the kiddos to bed early, pop some of your favorite popcorn, put in her favorite movie, and cuddle away.  You read that right, I said "her" favorite movie.  Sorry guys, unless she is wanting to do this especially for you, let her choose.  My wife would hate just about any movie that I consider great and the time would not result in building our relationship.  If by chance your movie favorites overlap then feel very blessed.

3) Candlelight Dinner at Home

Perhaps one of the nicest meals that I have ever prepared for Heather was a simple chicken salad, a glass of wine, and a single candle between us.  After a few hours of great conversation, the evening ended exceptionally well for both of us.  Simple yet very effective.  Sometimes you just have to do things out of the ordinary and create a special moment.  Maybe next time, I'll add a little dancing...  (hmm, new topic)

4) Share a Meal at a Nice Restaurant

We do this quite often.  By a nice restaurant, I'm referring to one in which tipping would be appropriate.  I know people who have never been to a restaurant like that and that is okay.  Just whatever your favorite place to eat will do.  Our favorite place for date night is LongHorn Steakhouse.  We have been eating there so long and so frequently that we no longer have to tell the waitresses what we want.  We walk to our usual spot, they call us by name, and ask if we want our usual.  Perhaps we should buy stock in LongHorn.

The point is to do something on occasion that you both enjoy and can relax quickly.  You might be wondering, "How is this a budget date idea?".  Well, I'm glad that you asked.  We share a meal.  We can typically keep this meal in the $30-35 range.  We have done it for less than $30 on several occasions.  Drinks and desserts seem to be the deciding factor in controlling the cost.  Don't forget to tip your waitress.

5) Community Events

Most communities have some type of events where you can get out together for a relatively inexpensive adventure.  County fairs, festivals, and fundraisers are usually going on somewhere.  In our area, they have Hillbilly Day and Strawberry Festivals.  If you live in a little bigger city, there are cultural events, live music venues, plays, sporting events, and etc....  National sporting events are usually quite expensive but local sporting events are free or very inexpensive.  We used to spend a lot of time going to watch our church's softball team play.  Completely free and nice to get out of the house for a few hours.

6) Project Idea Shopping

Heather and I have spent countless hours walking around Lowe's or Home Depot getting project ideas we could do around the house.  We normally bundle this adventure with our LongHorn Steakhouse trip.  When I was building our wood shop, it seemed like date night came all the time because I needed to make runs to Lowe's for supplies.  Win-Win

It's not always manly wood shop projects.  Heather loves to make crafts and we often go to JoAnn's or Hobby Lobby and find things that she needs for those projects.

It's not really so much about what we do, as long as we are doing it together.  I can look at bolts of material with her for hours.  I don't know much about sewing and such things but I can certainly tell her if I like something or not.  I'm also very good at carrying things for her and reaching things on the upper shelves.  She's notorious for being very flirty with me while were shopping and that makes the whole trip worthwhile for me.

7) Birthday candle in a Hot Apple Pie from McDonald's

I don't recall exactly where I came up with this idea but many years ago, her birthday was coming up and we just didn't have the resources to do anything nice for her birthday.  So, on her birthday, I took her to McDonald's and put a birthday candle in a hot apple pie and sang to her.  She loved it!

Sometimes you just need to be creative and a bit less formal but sincere love will be appreciated above gifts no matter their value.

8) Dancing

A few years ago, Heather wanted me to take formal dancing lessons with her and go dancing for Valentine's Day that year.  I'm no John Travolta by anyone's stretch of the imagination.  God never gifted my feet and body with a dancing rhythm but off we went.  We had 6 weeks of lessons in preparation for the big day.  We fumbled through it like you would expect non-dancing people to do.  We both realized that we just were not cut out for it and gave it up after Valentine's Day.

We still love to slow dance in each other's arms and it doesn't take a lot of specialized skill to hold each other and sway to the music in a circle.  Now, this we could do all night long and it's easy enough to grab her up in the kitchen at home and dance around the house with her.

If you are a dancer and you are gifted in that area, then this can be a wonderful escape for couples to do together.  Our town does not offer any opportunities for dancing but some of the neighboring larger cities usually have musical venues for such purposes.  Dancing is usually free but even if you have to pay a cover charge at the door for the band, it's still relatively inexpensive for date nights.

9) Free Live Music Event

If you enjoy listening to live music, you can often find these venues or events close to home.  There are usually restaurants, coffee shops, and such places that bring in small bands or solo artists to entertain.  Heather and I love going on winery tours.  These places will sometimes have a festival type event with live music and can be a lot of fun to attend.

10) Sightseeing

Last but certainly not least, you can pack a picnic lunch, hop in the car, and, for the price of a tank of gas, go sightseeing.  We have gotten up really early on a Saturday morning, driven to the Smokey Mountains, taken some photos and drove home before bedtime.  We would stop at a park or rest area and eat from our picnic basket we prepared.  These are wonderful adventures to get out and see God's creation at a low cost.

At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter what you do.  Do something intentional and together.  Make memories and strengthen your bond of intimacy.  No time invested in your relationship is wasted.  Try to find joy in being together rather than on what you are doing.  All you really need is time!

Share with us your ideas for low-cost date night.  I'm sure there are plenty more and others would love to hear your ideas.

See Also: Marriage, Ministry, & Valentine's Day a guest post that we did for a friend in which we gave practical tips for dating when you have young children.