Marriage and Ministry – ABC Dates

Being in ministry does not always create an easy environment to keep romance alive and communication healthy. I speak to so many youth workers and their spouses who share some of the same struggles as Lisa and I: How to make time for each other and how to truly invest in our marriage in a way that will help us more than just ‘get by’… Do you think like that?

For Lisa and I, about 6 months ago, we were given an opportunity to slow down and reflect on how our lives and marriage were holding up. As we talked, we realized that life had become busy and we were surviving, but not growing… We were talking, but not fully engaged… We realized that some changes had to be made. I wish I had time to tell you about all the changes we have made, but I will save that for later… Let me tell you how the ABC dates have been a huge investment in our marriage…

Here’s how they work for us: We plan a month out and plan every two weeks to go out, (that’s 26 a year… yes, there are 26 letters in the alphabet). We put those dates in the calendar and then in order, (but it doesn’t have to be), we plan out the ‘letter’ for that date. We try to do an activity or go to a restaurant that has the letter for that date, (sometimes we eat and do an activity too – sometimes just the activity to keep it cheaper).

Here’s How:  

A – Applesbees and Arcade games, (good old fashioned arcades games too).

B – Bowling (we had not been bowling in years… we were awful, but it was so much fun to laugh at each other).

C – China Chef (a cheap hole in the wall chinese place that we love) and Corn Maze (We walked and talked for a few hours)

“Yeah, yeah… what about Z and Q and letters like that…”? – We have them all planned, you will be surprized how many ideas you get! Try it…

The ABC dates are simple, but creative. They often require you to do activities that you have not done in a long time. They require you to plan and set aside time in advance, but here are the results:

The Results: When we get creative with the letters we ended up doing things that have made us laugh, made us talk more, made us experience more, and made us look forward to dates more. It’s so easy to do the same things all the time and they lose their impact. The ABC dates are never the same…

In the 6 months we have been doing this I can honestly say that this is one significant investment that has brought about great depth of love  for each other. It’s amazing to see what happens when you take time to invest in each other and get excited about the next activity. Something happens, and it makes the difference. Try the ABC’s out if you want, but most of all… take time to plan dates together… no matter how busy life and ministry is…

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5 Responses to Marriage and Ministry – ABC Dates

  1. heatherlynn January 3, 2009 at 10:10 pm #

    What an awesome idea!! We’ve done date nights weekly but I love this new twist on it! Thank you for all that you do withour children, family and church!

  2. Julee January 5, 2009 at 9:37 am #

    Phil, if my math is right, 2x a month x 12 months is only 24? I love the idea, and we’re going to start it this year, I just need to let Michael in on the idea. Thanks Phil, you are wonderful!

    • youthworktalk January 5, 2009 at 10:33 am #

      You are right Julee. I meant to write “every two weeks in a 52 week year = 26 weeks” – Well spotted. I am British after all and I am not very good at keeping track… We Brits still think we rule most of the world still :o)

  3. Julee January 8, 2009 at 12:54 pm #

    OK Mr. Bell, we’re going to give our marriage the benefit of ABC’s as well. Tonight we’ll start by going to the Art Museum of Milwaukee. Not sure what we’ll find there, but it does start with an A.

  4. youthworktalk January 8, 2009 at 2:34 pm #

    That’s the great thing about the ABC dates… because you choose by letter, you often choose ideas that you might have come up with normally. We have had some great and creative dates and we are building some great (and interesting memories)

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