One of the simplest ways to strengthen a family is to plan dates. This includes, of course, your spouse… but isn’t limited to them. It could and should include everyone in your family, at least once a month (if possible… some families are HUGE, it might have to be less often if yours is one of them).
Here are the with whom you should plan dates, in this simple way to strengthen your family:
This one should be obvious, but for some reason it isn’t… the fact that you’re married doesn’t mean you should stop dating. In fact, if you want your relationship to be great, go back to thinking of your spouse as someone that you have to woo, someone you have to win over. An absolutely huge number of couples forget the importance of making each other their significant other. If you are one of those couples… change. Fix it… go back to thinking about your spouse and how important they are to you and win them over… again and again and again.
This is one person whom you should NOT let slip to less often than once a month… if you can do more, go for it! Once a week would be great… you wanted to see your spouse at least once a week before you got married, right?
It’s less obvious that you should plan dates with your children than that you should plan them with your spouse, but it’s not less important! Planning specific times to be with each child, and ONLY with that child, gives both you and them something to anticipate, hopefully eagerly. If you start this when they are young enough, it is something that will keep you close to them, and something they will remember, for the rest of their life.
If they are old enough, it’s nice to let them choose what to do… it makes them feel more like it’s their date, too.
Probably the person most forgotten when it comes to scheduling exclusive time, your self still needs it. It can be really difficult, especially if you’re one of those people who identify with your family and helping others, to remember that you need time to yourself, too… and I’m not talking about ten minutes before bed, although that can be very helpful, too (see How To Make Your Life Happier In One Simple Change). I’m talking about an honest-to-goodness solid block of time for yourself, at least three or four hours in a row… uninterrupted.
You can use this time to do whatever you enjoy, but don’t use it to do something that “needs” done. Do something that you want to do, something you enjoy, but not anything that you have to do.
If you follow this plan, you should notice basically everything about your family life getting better over the next few months. If you want it to happen faster, you can plan the dates more often… but don’t make it overwhelming. It’s good to have a date with your wife once a week, and certainly wouldn’t hurt to have time to yourself each week, but you don’t want to feel like all of your time is scheduled to death, either. After all, dates should be enjoyed, not forced, or they pretty much lose all effectiveness.
So, get started and actually enjoy something that strengthens your family.
Picture from Flickr