About a week from now, my wife and I will go on our favorite date. We’ll wake up at 4 am, load our luggage and our kids into the car, and drive for 10 hours to see our family. The “date” portion of the trip will last from the moment we pull out of the driveway until our kids wake up (roughly 5-8am). We look forward to the long road trip that we get to take twice a year because long, quiet car rides always lead to the best conversations for us.
We probably sound like a boring couple, but actually, we love to do fun things for date night. Earlier this month, for example, some friends of ours watched the kids while we drove two hours away to have dinner and see one of our favorite bands at The House of Blues. It was awesome. But truth be told, the two-hour car ride to get there was one of our main highlights. That’s because what we do together is never as important as the simple fact that we’re together.
Before my wife was ever my life partner, my bride, my co-parent or even my crush, she was my friend. We met in a worship school. We were placed in the same band and toured with a youth conference, leading worship together for two years. There were six of us in the band—five guys, and the cute piano player with the curly locks. Since we all basically lived together in a van for nine months at a time, the worship school forbid any of us from dating.
Few things can compare to the deprivation of seeing the person you want to spend the rest of your life with every day, but not being allowed to even hint that you’re attracted to them. Yet those two years forced us to be just friends apart from romance, which has had a powerful impact on our marriage throughout the years.
I’m in love with my wife, I date my wife and I strive to romance my wife. But the foundation of our relationship is our friendship, not romance. And I don’t think our marriage would be as strong as it is if it were the other way around.
The philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, once said, “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”
Date nights, weekend getaways and romantic candle-lit dinners are all valuable as temporary escapes from the mundane. But if those one-off activities are the only moments you look forward to, you’re going to grow disappointed and frustrated with marriage, because those moments are rare. It’s more important to find joy in the mundane.
It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages. —Friedrich Nietzsche
I recently heard someone say on the Relevant Podcast, “The person you want to end up with is the person you want to wake up to in the morning and you want to make eggs with. You do the boring stuff… the mundane stuff of life.”
My wife and I go on dates primarily to be together apart from the kids. But that’s not the only time we enjoy being together. Some of our favorite “dates” include playing board games after the kids go to bed, or just talking about our day while dinner is in the oven.
Romance is an awesome gift in your marriage, but it won’t get you through the tough times. When life gets hard, romance feels like a luxury that your time, wallet and even your emotional bank account can’t always afford. But your friendship is indispensable.
If what you’re chasing is the excitement that comes with romance, you’re going to become bored with marriage. If you want a relationship that will last, however, it’s the sturdy and safe foundation of coming home to your friend every day, not just your lover, that will stand the test of time.