Remember how you used to hang on their every word, reminiscing about how funny they were?  Remember how you couldn’t wait to be with them?  The thought of spending time with them was like a dream come true.  Holding hands or staring at ‘em without end, oh, the world was a dance in their eyes.  Talkin’ on the phone for hours was a wonder!  Can’t ya recall how lucky you thought you were?

Statistically, though, we seem to forget much of that.  For the average marriage in America won’t last – on average, their duration is only five years.  I’ve heard a few say the church-going community has to be exempt from those statistics.  That’s not so, the numbers hold true across the board.  Sadly enough, dating ends up being nothing more than an illusion for most.

Ironically, wedding vows don’t mean much anymore.  Half the population would like to rewrite the creed to be: “Till death do us part – or I grow tired of ya.”  Having someone for some people is like having a car – I’ll live with them for three or four years, then trade in for a new model.  Those who’ve been married multiple times might think the grass is greener on the other side, but in reality it’s the same everywhere.  The grass fades and withers in the fall and goes dormant in the winter, just like some relationships do, but there is hope of a brighter tomorrow come spring – if we’re only diligent and willing enough to amend the broken.  However, it’s easy to be a quitter and some people would just rather give up than exert some sort of effort.

My wife and I grabbed a burger the other night and I saw something that about brought me to tears.  At Wendy’s, sitting across from us, was an older couple probably in their 70s.  I could tell the wife had the onset of Alzheimer’s and the husband was feeding her because she couldn’t feed herself.  A gentleman who evidently knew the couple came up and started talking to the man, but the husband never ignored his wife and kept feeding her – as if nothing was wrong.  They left the restaurant holding hands.  (I’d say that’s love, wouldn’t you?)

Kids don’t have much of a problem saying I love you Mommy or Daddy when they’re little, but the tongue seems to stick to the roof of the mouth with that verb when we’re older.

If you’re currently dating someone, or you’ve been married for any length of time, you need a date night – I can’t stress how important it is.  Designate one night during the week, any night, and simply be with each other that evening.  If you have kids have someone watch them.  You don’t have to necessarily call it date night.  Call it movie night, goofy golf night or anything you like.  My wife and I call our evening “Pizza Night,” on Thursdays.  We usually go to the Pizza Hut, because we’re accustomed to and don’t consider it a rut.

It’s my profession to study people, learn from what they say and do, and I’m studying at all times.  I see people eating together and never looking at each other through the whole meal.  I know quite a few older couples who tell me they sleep in separate rooms or beds.  I even know a couple that say they grunt at each other, instead of saying goodnight or I love you, when they rise or sleep.  (How sad … for the day may be your last)

If you don’t consider your spouse your best friend your thoughts have gone awry.  If they’re your best friend, you love them more than self.  That’s worth repeating: You love them more than yourself!

Date night for us isn’t really about getting something to eat, although I don’t mind that part.  It’s really about spending time with each other.  It’s about learning that of each other’s day, what’s been bothering them, or the funny things that pass our way.  Some of the most stimulating conversations I’ve ever had was during a meal.  Date night can be oh so much more though – it can be an opportunity!

Those working at the Pizza Hut have gotten to know us well, calling us “Regulars.”  You might say Cindy and I don’t mind diving into humanity, where others just wanna wade or not dip into that pool at all.

We’ve gotten to know a few of the employees at Pizza Hut.  They’re all good people, but their personalities run the gamut.  One beautiful young lady, who always has a smile and a kind word, recently had tragedy embark on her door.  Another lady I compare to Will Rogers – she’s never met anyone she didn’t like.  She’s always joyous, quite often telling us about her day.  Then there’s the third gal who’s a little rough around the edges, although I see through the façade.  It’s taken us quite some time to chip away at that icy demeanor of hers, but I can see a glimpse of good in her that most don’t have the patience for.  Then there’s their supervisor, a quiet gal, who never smiles.  I’d been wanting to tell her that she didn’t smile enough for some time.  I got the courage to one evening.  Her answer was, “You’re right, I don’t.” A few weeks later I told her, at the salad bar, I noticed she cut her hair and no longer wore glasses.  I remember telling her she looked good, and she smiled.  I left her with: “You never know what a smile might do.”

For you see it’s not just about getting something to eat, date night can be oh so much more.

Let’s face it, when we’re young we think we’re invincible, but life isn’t always fair and circumstances can strike us short of the mark at any given moment.  No relationship is perfect, nor are people, but some things are worth saving.  If things aren’t going so well, or life feels a little stagnant, make “Date Night” routine.

Greg Allen’s column, Thinkin’ Out Loud, was published bi-monthly from 2009 to 2017.  He’s an author, a former nationally syndicated columnist and the founder of Builder of the Spirit Ministries in Jamestown, Indiana.  He can be reached at

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