15
Dating When Married

Scheduling Dates for the First Time

Willard F. Harley, Jr.


Roseanne and Ted were in love for the first time. They had learned how to stop making Love Bank withdrawals and how to make massive Love Bank deposits. But they were not dating yet. At least they were not dating in the way I would teach them how to date.

They were in love because they were meeting each other’s four intimate emotional needs, not in a single date, but rather, scattered throughout the week. It worked because their needs were being met, and they were being met because it was their assignment to meet them. But they would soon be on their own with no assignments from me. That would put them at risk to stop meeting those needs, and to lose their romantic love for each other.

Spouses like to take shortcuts when it comes to meeting each other’s intimate emotional needs and Roseanne and Ted would be no exception.

Roseanne would see the importance of having her needs met for affection and intimate conversation because of her craving to have them met. But his needs for sexual fulfillment and recreational companionship could wait for a more convenient opportunity.

Similarly, Ted would want to take almost any opportunity to have his needs for sexual fulfillment and recreational companionship met, while wanting to wait for just the right moment to meet Roseanne’s needs for affection and intimate conversation.

So, to make sure that they were both motivated to avoid shortcuts, I encouraged them to meet them together on a single date. Their next assignment was to plan 3-4 dates a week, each 3-5 hours long, totaling 15 hours. During that time, they were to be affectionate, talk intimately to each other, engage in a recreational activity, and make love, all on the same date.

At this stage in their counseling with me, Roseanne and Ted were already scheduling time every week for intimate conversation, recreational companionship, and sexual fulfillment. Those were all separate assignments that were to be carried out at various times during each week that actually took more than 15 hours. Dates where those emotional needs would be combined wouldn’t take more time. It would simply require them to put the time they were already spending into time blocks to become a regular part of their lifestyle.

That’s not to say that intimate conversation, affection, recreational companionship, and sexual fulfillment couldn’t also happen outside of their dates. In romantic relationships, they are usually met whenever possible. But dating was simply a way to guarantee that those needs would be met regardless of life’s unexpected twists and turns.

When Roseanne and Ted came for their next appointment, I showed them a schedule that other dual career couples with children had used to give each other undivided attention. From that schedule, we created the following:

Monday – Friday:

6:00 – Awake, shower and dress for both.

6:30 – Rosanne and Ted prepare breakfast, they eat together as a family, and everyone cleans up afterward.

7:30 – The children take the bus to school, and Rosanne and Ted leave for work.

8:00 – Both arrive for work.

8:00 to 4:00 – While at work text or talk to each other by telephone at least once in the morning and once in the afternoon. More often if possible.

4:00 – Roseanne and Ted contact each other to determine that they will arrive home together.

4:30 – Roseanne and Ted arrive home, children are already home. Roseanne and Ted prepare dinner together.

5:00 – They eat together as a family, and everyone helps clean up afterward.

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday

6:00 – A college student from church that they trust comes to their home to stay with the children. She helps them with their homework, plays games with them, and watches TV, depending on the preferences of the children. They have a backup in case the student cannot make it for some reason.

6:00 to 9:00 – Date that includes affection, intimate conversation, and recreational companionship.

9:00 to 9:30 – Everyone goes to their rooms to get ready for bed.

9:30 to 10:00 – Making love.

10:00 – Asleep.

Tuesday and Thursday

6:00 – Roseanne and Ted help the children with homework.

7:00 – They play games together as a family or watch TV together. Sometimes they go out together as a family to go for a walk, watch a movie, or attend a school or church event.

9:30 – Everyone in their rooms.

10:00 – Asleep

Saturday

6:00 to Noon – Sleep in if desired, cuddle in bed together when awake, shower, prepare and have breakfast together with the children, share domestic chores with each other so that by noon they are all completed.

Noon to 3:30 – Schedule any personal projects or activities that are done alone that are mutually agreeable.

3:30 to 4:00 Take the children to Ted’s parent’s home where they will have dinner before picking them up at 9:00.

4:00 to 9:00 – Date that includes affection, intimate conversation, and recreational companionship.

9:00 to 9:30 – Pick up children, return home, children are in their rooms.

9:30 to 10:00 – Prepare for bed and make love.

Sunday

7:00 – Awake, shower and dress for both.

7:30 to 8:30 – Rosanne and Ted prepare breakfast, they eat together as a family, and everyone cleans up afterward.

8:30 to 9:00 – Dress for church.

9:00 to Noon – Attend church together as a family. Noon to 4:00 – Have lunch and visit with Ted’s parents, leave children there where they will have dinner and be picked up at 9:00.

4:00 to 9:00 – Date that includes affection, intimate conversation, and recreational companionship. Love making after they return home.

9:00 to 9:30 – Pick up children, return home, children are in their rooms.

9:30 to 10:00 – Prepare for bed and make love.

Amy, Rodney, and Martha, who were now ages 14, 13, and 11 respectively, adjusted to the new schedule much better than Ted and Roseanne had expected. When they announced that, after 9:30 at night, they were not to be interrupted, the children all giggled but were very happy to see their parents expressing their love for each other.

In the beginning of my counseling sessions with Ted and Roseanne, I had said that I would help them learn how to resolve conflicts as the last step in my program for their marital recovery. But by this time, they were resolving almost all of their conflicts without any extra help from me.

By eliminating Selfish Demands, Disrespectful Judgments, and Angry Outbursts, they had removed the primary obstacles to effective negotiation in marriage. In their place, they made Thoughtful Requests and used Respectful Persuasion to address conflicts. When they learned to be affectionate with each other, good will came along for the ride. So, they were trying to see each conflict through each other’s eyes because they cared for each other.

Their primary goal in life had been to raise healthy, happy, and successful children. But they discovered that if that were their primary goal, their children would actually suffer. They found that the only way that they could achieve that goal was to make it a secondary goal. Their primary goal had to be caring for each other.

We're not done yet with this series. My next few articles will focus attention on some of the greatest obstacles to dating when married. In every case, I will be encouraging couples to make dating their highest priority, which makes their obstacles much easier to tackle.

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