Married? Date Anyway.

Relationships continuously evolve. As time passes, changes occur. He changes. She changes. Marriage changes. How couples deal with these changes determines whether they'll remain close. Ignoring or denying change is a recipe for failure. From our first date to the day we got married, many things changed in my relationship with my husband. They continue to change now.

One of the interesting things is when you are dating, you communicate more. You are looking for more information on the person you are sitting across from. You have set aside a time and a place to focus on each other and the relationship you are building. Unfortunately, once the wedding is over, and especially once children enrich your lives, many couples stop dating and they stop getting the benefits of this special time. But, like negative changes, positive changes can occur, too. One positive habit to re-connect with: dating your spouse.

With all the other obligations in life, why should dating be a priority? The web site Romance-Your-Wife gives ten reasons why you should date your spouse frequently. A few of the reasons can be particularly helpful for law enforcement marriages.

There is always something new about your spouse.

Often due to long hours, shift work and other law enforcement-related factors, when you have the chance to communicate with your spouse, it often revolves around what either of you did at work, finances or the kids. Although important information is exchanged in these conversations, it is hard to see past the mundane and into the man or woman you love. Taking time to date, whether over dinner, an art show or an outdoor activity you both enjoy, allows each of you to stop, look at each other and say, "What's new?" Setting aside this time, also allows each of you to answer and to listen.

Invest in the future.

Stressful occupations and the bad habits which often come with them can sap both partners. When your emotional coffers are empty, it's hard to see the good in the other person creating a cynical, nasty relationship neither of you enjoy. By dating, you regularly refill the coffer with positive experiences and views of your partner. It will be easier to stifle an angry word when you can shut your eyes and remember his arm around you in a dark theater.

Marriage can be compared to a set of tires.

Life creates "wear and tear" on relationships and if a couple does not "maintain alignment, balance and pressure" the marriage will either develop a slow leak or explode at the next turn. Either way, you'll both be left damaged, possibly beyond repair. Dating allows you to keep your marriage strong. Consider it adding another layer of tread each time you spend time focused on each other.

Remember the good times.

It's easy to get caught up in the bad times. Going out with your spouse allows you to remember why you fell in love with this person in the first place. Officers get to step out of the law enforcement role and enjoy time with a safe person. Talking about your pre-marriage memories allows you to generate contented feelings about the person you often only see in relation to life's stresses. Most people dated before they got married; dating after marriage lets you have the best of the excitement of dating and the security of a committed relationship.

Laughter is the best medicine.

When emotions are running high and something funny happens, the whole atmosphere changes. Laughing with your spouse is comfortable. Being able to share with each other on a lighter note can heal some of the hurts caused just by being in a relationship. Scheduling dates where you go to an Improv or see a comedy can pack twice the punch.

All of these reasons extol the virtue of dating your spouse. But, alas, life sets in. With limited resources and even more limited time, how can you make dating your spouse a reality? Relationship experts recommend scheduling a set time and day each week for your date. Juggling the logistics of court schedules, your work schedule and the kids' activities is hard enough. With rotating shifts and all the other fun law enforcement officer stuff, having a set schedule may not be possible to keep. But, LEO spouses adapt and overcome. Have an alternative time and date set as well. It may take two or three tries and each week may come with a new hurdle, but scheduling this time and making it a priority shows your commitment to your marriage. That's just as important as grocery shopping, shooting practice or PTO meetings.

Once you are dating, activities should allow for time to communicate. In "How to Date Your Spouse," Anne Baugh recommends you alternate between activity and non-activity dates. Activity dates are meant for fun but don't allow for much chatting. Non-activity dates allow you to reconnect with your spouse and ask and answer, "What's new?" She explains dates don't have to be expensive. The idea is spending time on each other, not money. A dollar movie or a picnic can be an inexpensive way. Further, she says, "Enlist your family." Including the children in your planning lets them see your commitment to each other and creates a foundation for their future relationships. Often children see the stressful, unhappy communication between you. Including them in the positive encourages a balanced perspective. My personal favorite piece of advice Baugh gives: "Enjoy your time together. Kiss and hold hands. Park in a romantic spot and make out like teenagers. Put a little sizzle back in the union. Have fun with it and you will find yourself connecting just like brand new lovers."

With the new year right around the corner, starting a positive tradition within your marriage is a worthy goal. Agreeing to date your spouse and scheduling the time can ring in 2008. It could also ring in a new evolution for your marriage; a sexy and bonding evolution. Change can be good.

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