Bookstore | Courses, Seminar and Accountability | Videos | Coaching Center | Questionnaires | Marriage Builders® Radio | Radio Archive
   Home | Tax-deductible Donation | Site Tour | Meet Dr. Harley | Basic Concepts | Q&A Columns | Articles | Guidance Forum
Articles
NEW Dating after marriage Series of Articles
NEW How to Complain in Marriage
My Spouse Hit Me. Now What?
What to Do with a Serial Cheater
Guidelines for Groping and Grabbing in Marriage
What to Do with a Child of an Affair
Peace and Good Will: Essential for Effective Conflict Resolution
The Scourge of Pornography
How to Deal with a Quarrelsome and Nagging Wife
What's the Purpose of a Wedding?
How to Make Your Wife Happy
How to Negotiate When No One Wants to Raise the Issue
The Risk of Opposite-sex Friendships in Marriage
How to Negotiate When You Are an Emotional Person
How Can Trust Be Restored After An Affair?
Snooping: Is it wrong? Or, is it the right thing to do in marriage?
Should the Policy of Joint Agreement Be Violated When Trying to Meet Your Spouse's Emotional Needs?
When Should an Affair Be Exposed
How to Survive an Affair
When should you tell your spouse "We have a problem."
Why Women Leave Men
What Are Plan A and Plan B?
Caring for Children Means Caring for Each Other
How the Co-dependency Movement Is Ruining Marriages
How to Create Your Own Plan to Resolve Conflicts and Restore Love
How To Find A Good Marriage Counselor
The question of the ages: How can a husband receive the sex he needs in marriage?
Why are the differences between a man and a woman so valuable in marriage?
What is Marriage Coaching?
Living Together Before Marriage: Compatibility Test or Curse?
How do you know if your spouse is in love with you?
Fear of Marriage
Are "Friends" a Threat to Your Marriage?
What is Sexual Addiction?
What's Wrong with Unconditional Love (Part 1)
When to Call It Quits (Part 1)
Alcohol, Abuse, and Infidelity
Rules that Guide Good Habit Formation in Marriage
What is an Affair?
Infidelity: The Lessons Children Learn
Romantic Love: Is it a Realistic Goal for Marriage Therapy?
But you promised!
But no one told me!
Bankrupt!? Us!?
Ouch? No no let me explain.
The Coach
Free Newsletter

  Subscribe
  Unsubscribe

Privacy Policy

A D V E R T I S M E N T


printer version | email this article | send feedback

10
Dating after Marriage

Putting It All Together

Willard F. Harley, Jr.


Giving up favorite recreational activities to become favorite recreational companions in marriage is a very difficult assignment for most couples I’ve counseled. Sherry and Todd were no exception. After three surprisingly enjoyable weeks spending all of their recreational time together, they wanted to know when they could get back to the activities that they had done individually.

I explained that there was another hurdle to pass before they could return to their previous activities. That step was dating.

You might think that they had already dated during their three-weeks of recreational activities. But I use a very different definition of dating: Dating is when a husband and wife get together for an activity where romance is the objective. They use their time together to meet each other’s intimate emotional needs for affection, sexual fulfillment, intimate conversation, and recreational companionship.

As you’ve seen in my previous two examples of dating, I recommend scheduling a minimum of fifteen hours a week, where each date meets all four intimate emotional needs. To accomplish that objective, each date should be between three to five hours in length so that all those needs are met.

Sherry and Todd’s Love Bank Inventory scores indicated that they were ready for dating because they now both liked each other – a little bit. Both of their scores were just above zero.

But they had not actually been on dates yet, as I define them. They were more affectionate, they talked intimately to each other more often, they had recreational experiences together, and they made love, but not all on the same date. And their total time together, even including the time that they had spent on the six recreational activities, didn’t add up to 15 hours a week.

When I first introduced to them the idea of combining the meeting of these four emotional needs on a date, they didn’t think that would be necessary. They felt that they could meet those needs for each other between their other activities. A little conversation here, a little affection there, an occasional recreational activity, and making love when in the mood. All of them didn’t need to be met on a date. It seemed too unnatural. Too contrived.

Yet, it was all very natural when they were dating before marriage. And it would become natural to them again after they had restored their feeling of love for each other.

By this time, Sherry and Todd had grown somewhat accustomed to doing things my way, and that there was no point in arguing with me about it. Besides, I told them that this series on dating would be an essential building block for their marriage.

Resistance is futile, as the Borg in Star Trek would say.

The previous series of sessions had prepared them for dating because it required planning their time to be together for recreational activities. The series before that also prepared them for dating because it taught them how to have intimate conversation. Since they were already starting to be more affectionate toward each other, and were making love again, I didn’t feel that they needed help in meeting those two needs. If problems meeting those needs would have appeared when they started dating, I would have offered Sherry and Todd a series on each one.

Now, all that was missing was for them to schedule a minimum of 15 hours a week of dates that would meet all four of those needs.

I suggested that some of their dates include exercise at a local fitness center, but neither of them were into exercise, so I let that go, at least for now. But I wouldn’t let go of my recommendation that their household and childcare responsibilities be done together. Todd was very concerned, and Sherry was very elated, about what that meant for their marriage.

As you may recall, when Sherry insisted on buying a home instead of living in an apartment, Todd bailed out of household and childcare responsibilities. That infuriated her, and created very deep resentment, to say nothing about causing massive Love Bank withdrawals in his account in her Love Bank. My recommendation that they work together on childcare and household responsibilities was not a suggestion. It was an assignment.

I also instructed them to text each other during the day. At the end of their workday, they were to let each other know that they were leaving from work, and when they would be home.

Sherry's mother, who was divorced and remarried, had occasionally cared for her children, and had offered to watch them if they needed her help. So, I suggested that Sherry take up her mother’s offer by bringing the children to her home whenever they had a date. She would keep them for dinner and give them baths before she would pick them up to take them home. After the first week, since her mother might not want it to be a permanent arrangement, we would find other ways to watch the children when they were on a date.

For couples who do not have obliging parents, I recommend hiring a babysitter who will make the children dinner, give them baths, read them a story, and get them ready for bed whenever they go out on a date. That gives the couple a much more relaxing evening together, especially on weekdays.

Sherry and Todd’s Dating Schedule

My session with Sherry and Todd was at noon each Monday afternoon. They took a long lunch hour to be there each week, which was approved by their employers.

For this session, they came prepared to work with me on a provisional dating schedule that could be changed the following week. I had given them a few schedules used by other couples as examples. When we completed the schedule, they were committed to following it as it was written, with minor adjustments if necessary.

Monday – Friday:

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

6:30 – Dress the children together, prepare breakfast, and eat together as a family.

7:30 – Todd takes both children to childcare, and then to work. Sherry leaves for work.

8:30 – Both arrive for work.

8:30 to 4:30 – While at work text or talk to each other by phone at least once in the morning, once at noon, once in the afternoon, and once before leaving work. More often if possible.

4:30 – Contact each other to be sure that they will arrive home together. Todd leaves from work to pick up the children from childcare because his work is closer to home, and Sherry leaves from work at the same time.

5:00 – Todd picks up the children.

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday:

5:30 – 9:30 – Sherry and Todd return home, prepare the dinner together, have dinner together as a family, clean up kitchen together, spend the rest of the evening caring for their children, putting them to bed, and completing household tasks together.

9:30 – 10:00 – Prepare for bed and asleep.

Tuesday and Thursday:

5:30 – 6:00 – Sherry and Todd return home and take their children to Sherry’s mother’s home where the children will have dinner and be given baths before they are picked up at 9:00.

6: 00 – 9:00 – Date that includes affection, intimate conversation, and recreational companionship. Love making after they return home.

9:00 – 9:30 Pick up children, return home, put children to bed.

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

Saturday

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

Noon – 3:30 – Schedule any personal projects or activities that are done alone that are mutually agreeable. It’s okay to watch football or take a nap without being with each other.

3:30 – 4:00 – Drop the children off to Sherry’s mother’s home where they will have dinner and be given baths before they are picked up at 9:00.

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

9:00 – 9:30 – Pick up children, return home, put them to bed.

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

Sunday

6:00 to 10:00 – Sleep in if desired, cuddle in bed together when awake, shower, dress the children, prepare and have breakfast together with them, get ready to go to church together as a family.

10:00 to Noon – Attend church together.

Noon to 4:00 – Have lunch and visit with all available parents briefly, one at a time, leave children with Sherry’s mother where they will have dinner and be given baths before they are 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, put them to bed.

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

Adjustments to Their Dating Schedule

Their first week went essentially as planned, with a few changes that made the dates more enjoyable for them. They rotated their recreational activity around four that they had earlier identified as mutually enjoyable: television, woodworking, sailing, and amusement parks. They watched television on Tuesday and did woodworking at their home on Thursday without their children being there. On both occasions, they made love at home before they picked up their children. On Saturday, they rented a sailboat, so they started their date at noon instead of 4:00, and made love at home before they picked up their children.

Sunday went as planned, spending the evening at the local amusement park.

Sherry’s mother and step-father were delighted to care for their two grandchildren, especially if it would help their marriage. They both let Sherry know that they wished someone had told them to do the same thing before they were divorced. During the week, after they were told what Sherry’s mother had done, Sherry’s father expressed an interest in helping out, as did Todd’s mother.

My experience working with dual-career families is that parents are usually more than willing to help care for their grandchildren whenever given a chance. It often doesn’t occur to the exhausted parents, especially the mother, to ask for the much-needed relief. She also needs help from her husband. But along with his help, she also needs to be able to get away from all of her responsibilities to be his lover, his favorite recreational companion, and the source of his greatest happiness in life. Dating is the way that couples should escape their responsibilities together.

They both reported that their assignment of combining affection, intimate conversation, recreational companionship, and sexual fulfillment went much better than they had expected. Prior to the date, Todd thought that keeping the conversation going would be difficult, and Sherry didn’t think that requiring lovemaking each time they dated was appropriate. But during the date itself, it seemed quite natural blend the four needs together.

The assignment to do their household responsibilities and childcare together made the dating much more enjoyable for Sherry. If they had not been shared, she would have been very resentful, and that would have shown during their dates. She could also relax, knowing that there wouldn’t be work for her after the date.

Contacting each other during the day also made the dates go smoother. By being in touch with each other throughout the day, when they got together later for a date they were already emotionally connected to each other.

After the schedule changes for Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, their new dating schedule for the coming week was:

Monday – Friday:

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

6:30 – Dress the children together, prepare breakfast, and eat together as a family.

7:30 – Todd takes both children to childcare, and then to work. Sherry leaves for work.

8:30 – Both arrive for work.

8:30 – 4:30 – While at work text or talk to each other by phone at least once in the morning, once at noon, once in the afternoon, and once before leaving work. More often if possible.

4:30 – Contact each other to be sure that they will arrive home together. Todd leaves from work to pick up the children from childcare because his work is closer to home, and Sherry leaves from work at the same time.

5:00 – Todd picks up the children.

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday:

5:30 – 9:30 – Sherry and Todd return home, prepare the dinner together, have dinner together as a family, clean up kitchen together, spend the rest of the evening caring for their children, putting them to bed, and completing household tasks together.

9:30 – 10:00 Prepare for bed and asleep.

Tuesday and Thursday:

5:30 – 6:00 – Sherry and Todd return home and take their children to Sherry’s mother’s home where the children will have dinner and be given baths before they are picked up at 9:00.

6: 00 – 9:00 – Date that includes affection, intimate conversation, recreational companionship and sexual fulfillment while at home.

9:00 – 9:30 Pick up children, return home, put children to bed.

9:30 – 10:00 Prepare for bed and asleep.

Saturday

6:00 – 11:30 – Sleep in if desired, cuddle in bed together when awake, shower, dress the children, prepare and have breakfast together with the children, care for the children and share domestic chores with each other so that by 11:30 they are all completed.

11:30 – Noon – Drop the children off to Sherry’s mother’s home where they will have lunch. Pick them up at 5:00.

Noon – 5:00 – Date that includes affection, intimate conversation, and recreational companionship. Make love at home before picking up the children.

5:00 – 9:30 – Pick up children, return home, spend the evening with the children.

9:30 – 10:00 – Prepare for bed and asleep.

Sunday

6:00 – 10:00 – Sleep in if desired, cuddle in bed together when awake, shower, dress the children, prepare and have breakfast together with the children, get ready to go to church together as a family.

10:00 – Noon – Attend church together.

Noon to 4:00 – Have lunch and visit with all available parents briefly, one at a time, leave children with Sherry’s motherwhere they will have dinner and be given baths before they are 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, put them to bed.

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

One of the main differences in the schedules for the two weeks was on Saturday. In the first week, noon to 3:30 was scheduled for any personal projects or activities that are done alone that are mutually agreeable. But in the new schedule, both spouses felt that that time could be better spent. So, they moved their date up to noon, and were with their children for the evening.

Conflict on a Date

Sherry and Todd's first experiences dating each other while in High School went very badly. They fought so much with each other that they simply ruined any chance of having a future together.

But then, when they reconnected a few years later, they decided to try to make the relationship work by avoiding arguments. They did that by trying to avoid dealing with conflicts. They simply went along with whatever the other person wanted. They took turns capitulating.

It was after their marriage, when conflicts were more frequent and more difficult to resolve, that they started fighting with each other the way they had during their High School days.

I had warned them to avoid arguments on their dates at all costs. So, they reverted back to their dating days when they simply ignored conflicts. That got them through the first week with flying colors.

But during their second week of dating, a conflict arose that they couldn’t ignore. While out sailing on Saturday, Todd told Sherry that he would like to buy a sailboat instead of renting one each week. He suggested that they start shopping for one right away. He wanted to purchase one that next week.

The way that Sherry had avoided conflicts in the past was to go along with whatever Todd wanted to do. If she would ever disagree with him, it would turn into a fight. But she felt very strongly that they could not afford a sailboat. Besides, she wasn’t sure that sailing would end up being their permanent recreational activity.

Let’s discuss this with Dr. Harley when we see him next, was the only way that she thought that she could avoid an argument. But it didn’t work.

Don’t you want us to have a sailboat? I thought you would like that idea?

I like to sail with you, but I don’t like the cost or the responsibility of keeping a sailboat up, she explained.

Sherry had other reasons, but didn’t have a chance to explain them to Todd. He wanted a sailboat, and he wanted to get one that next week, so for the remainder of their date, he was silent.

The training they had in avoiding demands, disrespect, and anger averted an even bigger disaster. Saying nothing was far better than challenging her perspective, and trying to convince her that his way of doing things was better than hers. But even in that brief encounter, both spouses made Love Bank withdrawals and their date was ruined.

Sherry started to cry. They had been getting along so well, and now she thought she had blown it all by not letting Todd have what he wanted. How stupid of me, she thought.

But she had not made a mistake. She did the right thing by being honest with Todd about how she felt about his proposal. Her problem was that they had not yet learned how to deal with the inevitable conflicts that occur in every marriage. Capitulation can’t work for ever, and it was time for them to learn how to resolve conflicts the right way.

Dating after Marriage
Part 11


Most Popular Links
The Marriage Builders� Discussion Forum
How to Survive Infidelity
The Most Important Emotional Needs
Dr. Harley's Basic Concepts
Coping with Infidelity:
Part 1 - How Do Affairs Begin?
A Summary of Dr. Harley's Basic Concepts
Love Busters
The Emotional Needs Questionnaire
Q&A Columns
The Policy of Joint Agreement

  

Worth Looking Into

The Marriage Builders® Home Study Course | Fall In Love, Stay In Love
The Marriage Builders® Reminder Series


   Home | Tax-deductible Donation | Site Tour | Meet Dr. Harley | Basic Concepts | Q&A Columns | Articles | Guidance Forum
Bookstore | Courses, Seminar and Accountability | Videos | Coaching Center | Questionnaires | Marriage Builders® Radio | Radio Archive
|  Feedback  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us  |
© 1995-2012 Marriage Builders, Inc. All rights reserved.