The Working Date
In our last post “The Date Night Challenge”, we talked about the importance of date night, specifically, fun dates. Now, we want to talk about a different kind of date – The Working Date.
Yes, it sounds like a contradiction, we get it but the truth is that the only way to create real intimacy in your marriage is to consistently invest in spending time working through the issues that come up in marriage and family. Things like: finances, raising children, work schedules, extra curricular adult and children’s activities have a tendency to wreak havoc on our marriages but they don’t have to.
The working date is simply a time set aside for you and your spouse to work on the issues before the issues work on you.
I (Jason) have worked in the corporate world for a long time and in general, I hate meetings. Mostly because the majority of the meetings I’ve attended are a complete waste of time. Generally speaking, they are not well thought out by the organizer so there is no real agenda in place. The result of a meeting like that is usually a completely and often exhausting wasted hour (or more) of my day that I can never get back. I waste enough time on my own, so I certainly don’t need to attend a meeting to waste time with my co-workers.
The same is true in marriage. The working date has to be planned, thoughtful and efficient.
Here are some basic guidelines for the working date:
1. The working date has to be planned: Schedule a time for the working date, put it on a shared calendar and stick to it. Do not leave the working date to chance. We suggest you have at least two working dates per month with at least an hour or two) scheduled for each but you may want to do more in the beginning to start sorting through some current issues.
2. The working date needs to be a priority: With rare exception, the working date has to be a top priority. This time needs to be almost sacred to you and your spouse.
3. The working date needs to be protected: If you have small children then your working date should occur after they have gone to bed or before they wake up in the mornings. Find a “boardroom” at home in which to conduct these meetings. A quiet living room will work, if it’s truly quiet. Otherwise, consider the dinning or even your bed room so that you can close the door for privacy. Like the “fun” date, turn your phones off if possible.
The working date exists so that you can proactively work on the issues instead of reacting to the issues in real-time. The working date will also allow you to keep the fun dates fun without fear of having to talk about “heavy” issues.
You may be wondering, “what will we talk about?” So, here are a few things to consider as agenda items on your working dates.
1. Coordinate your schedules:
- Talk about the coming weeks’ work schedule. Any travel plans? Working late one night?
- What events do the kids have planned this week? Who is taking who to what? (sports, dance recitals, PTA meetings, etc.)
- When is the “fun date”? Who is planning it?
- Depending on your stage of life, you may even consider planning a night for sex.
2. Marriage and Family Goals:
- In a later post, we will talk about a “Family Mission and Vision Statement”. But the working date is a great time to not only create that statement but also to review it and make sure you are both sticking to it.
- Budget/Finances – this is a great time to look at the family budget. How are “we” doing and what changes need to be made. Any big expenses coming up?
- Family and couple’s vacation plans – The working date is also a great time to look at the summer vacation plans. Also consider discussing holiday vacations and plans.
3. Parenting Goals:
- Discuss any outstanding discipline issues. What is working? What isn’t?
- Talk about the family chores. What is working? Who or what isn’t?
4. One person talks, the other one listens:
- Maybe your working date is simply a time for one of you to talk and the other one to just listen. Stress at work (inside or outside the home) can take a major toll on a marriage. So sometimes, you just need someone to listen to you. Not try to fix you, just listen. The working date is a great time to make that happen! You can’t argue if only one person is talking but don’t use this as a time to “tee off” on your spouse. Use this time to provide care and empathy for one another.
5. Share some of your most delicate and often, intimate needs with one another:
- Avoid “you” statements. (i.e. you always…, you never…, etc.)
- Instead, use “I” and “me” statements to share your needs or hopes with one another. (i.e. “I miss being alone with you” or “It would mean a lot to me if you would call and say hi during the day from time to time.”
6. Appreciate and affirm one another:
- Use your working dates to tell your spouse what they are doing well. Brag on them, say “thank you for…” and show appreciation for something they are doing or have recently done for you or the family.
You can also check working dates sections on the “Books and Resources” page for more working date ideas.
The working date, when done correctly, is something that we both look forward to. It not only gives us another time set aside to spend with one another but it makes our week, month and year flow much smoother. Some issues do need to be discussed immediately but some can certainly wait until our working date.
We often conduct our working dates around the hookah in a romantically lit living room so the working date doesn’t have to feel “formal” by any stretch. The point is, find something that works for you but be intentional and be consistent.