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    Unnecessary Dates and Vacations

    February 6, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    I have mentioned this before. I’m running the subject through my mind on occasion, trying to iron it all out. But for now, my original thoughts still stand:

    As much as everyone will advise that having a regularly scheduled date night will (statistically speaking) add to our chances of marital bliss, the fact is that “dating” as a concept didn’t really exist until just under 100 years ago, and people have managed to get married and stay married for thousands of years without going on dates of any sort. Now, making sure that we have uninterrupted times devoted to nurturing our love is, of course, quite important. But really, a “date night” {where we spend money on babysitting and gas and food and entertainment} should be distinguished as a luxury item.

    {Okay, so I feel kind of silly quoting myself, but I feel really silly repeating myself verbatim, not mentioning that I’m repeating, and then being caught by a reader. So I choose the former to avoid the latter.}

    I have begun to mentally put date nights and vacations in the “luxury item” category. Part of this is due to the fact that, in my personal history, my craving for both of these things has been a sign of discontent. And it’s that discontent that signals to me that these things, no matter what the sirens of culture want us to believe, are not needs.

    At the beginning of the year, I made a resolution to cultivate such a love for my home, such an enjoyment in the simple things in my life, such a contentment in my average day, that I never felt the need for a vacation. I wanted these things to become unnecessary not only in the reality of my brain, but in the fulness of my heart.

    There was a time when our marriage was less than it is now, and I spent hours nagging and begging Si to take me out {which, by the way, is the most ineffective way to inspire a man to do this}. I had bought into the culture, and truly believed that the flaws in our marriage were due to inconsistent date nights. But during this time, when he would finally bow to my pressuring, the dates became unenjoyable on a number of levels, and usually ended in frustration.

    We were not lacking in dates. Really, I have never sat down and analyzed it enough to know exactly what we were lacking because, to some extent, it all just faded away with time. {I’d like to pass it off as a stage, but experience tells me there was sin in the camp somewhere, and through further growth in conviction and submission to the Lord, we were healed.}

    Yesterday, I read this, written by a very wise woman:

    It’s vitally important to spend time alone with your spouse. It is not at all necessary to spend that time doing something that costs you money. In situations where money is already tight it will actually more stress to your marriage. I’m not telling any readers that y’all are bad people if you go out to eat- so do we sometimes. I am saying, and saying firmly, that going out to eat is not a need. If you ‘need’ something that means you could die without it. You won’t die if you don’t go out to eat. Eating out belongs firmly in the category of ‘stuff you want to do but could live another 75 years and then die of old age without ever doing it again.’

    When I was harrassing Si about dates, it was not dates that we were lacking. And when I feel overwhelmed in my life, it is not a vacation I am lacking. I have learned that both are expressions of my desire to flee from my own discontent rather than submit it to God.

    And I have now discovered that the best dates and vacations {and we can afford few} are the ones that are experienced in a time of rich contentment. They are an opportunity not to make up for where we are lacking, but to express to each other {or our whole family if we bring the kids!} the fullness of love we are experiencing.

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  • Reply Brandy February 6, 2006 at 7:36 pm

    Rebecca–I have to admit that I’m so ignorant about these things that I don’t know what or where St. Barts is. But, anything with the word “exotic” as a description sounds enticing!

    I must say that it’s a fine line, and I found it difficult to balance saying that such things are not needs without sounding like I thought they were intrinsically negative.

    I suppose Paul is our best model, who learned to be content whether in plenty or in want. Dates and vacations are not the issue. My own contentment has been the issue.

  • Reply Rebecca February 6, 2006 at 7:13 pm

    Funny that you are writing about this again now… just last week I was looking at exotic (read: bank-breaking) vacations on-line. I know I don’t “need” a trip to St. Barts etc, but sometimes I sure would like one!

    Even though vacations and dates aren’t “needs” in the strictest sense, they certainly can be nice times to recharge. As you said though, they aren’t restful when they come at the expense of other people or actual needs in our lives.

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