Images by Adelyn Boling Photography; editing by Christen Smith Photography

I have a minor obsession with my husband. Some are addicted to chocolate or coffee. I just happen to be addicted to all of the above, plus my super sexy spouse.

Patrick and I started our dating relationship long distance. I was in Indiana and he was in Raleigh. We were intentional about talking every single morning as he commuted to work, and Skyping every single evening before going to bed. On Saturdays we made pancakes and drank coffee “together” while Skyping. When I finally moved to North Carolina in December 2016, it felt like I had been given an incredible gift and I tried to see him every day. From that point forward, we set aside Wednesdays as our dinner and movie night, and rode to church together on Sunday.
Because we were long distance, I told myself that I would never take our time together for granted, reflecting on the rarity of being together. Fast forward to two years later with Patrick and I sitting on the same couch, absorbed in our phones, and speaking only to exchange information. What is it about marriage that changes how intentional we are? I love Patrick with all of my heart, yet, I sometimes forget to ask more in-depth questions aside from “how was your day?” Another horrible habit I’ve developed is zoning out while he’s sharing about hobbies I have no interest in (cough, sports).
Bottom line: we’ve gotten comfortable. Comfort isn’t always a bad thing, but it tends to keep you exactly where you are without progress. For us, comfort equals stagnation. We don’t have a terrible marriage, we just don’t always have an intentional marriage. So how do Patrick and I keep dating each other when we’re used to each other? I wanted to give you a look into our marriage, and what we do to keep our connection strong.
Make breakfast. Ever since Patrick and I got married, I try to make him breakfast every single morning. It’s usually just breakfast burritos or something that includes eggs, but I try to give him one less thing to think of while he’s rushing to get to work in the morning. We’ve also carried on our tradition of pancake Saturdays and Wednesday date nights.
Take walks. Whether it’s the grocery store or Lake Lynn, the mail box or Target, Patrick and I love to be out together. There’s something about being side by side that sparks natural conversation with him.
Next on the agenda… We try to have a list of 1-2 topics that we like to cover throughout the week. This can range from family planning, finances, sports, business, or work, to name a few. We both like to cover topics from start to finish, and by limiting ourselves, we eliminate having too many big points to discuss at one time. In the same vein, we love to plan conversation games for road trips. This is one of our favorites and we found out ridiculous things about one another, like that I’m a wannabe arsonist and that he would love to be an elf in Middle Earth.
Stand by your man. This may sound weird to some people, but I’ve chosen to stand beside Patrick (literally) while we’re out together. It doesn’t matter if we’re in line at the grocery store, pumping gas, or at the gym, I stand beside him. Patrick has stated that my literal presence helps him feel connected to me, so I’ve decided that enduring the cold or spending a little longer running errands is worth it if we get to invest in one another emotionally.
If you’re not sure, ask. I’ve learned that instead of getting upset if I feel like I’m being challenged, I ask clarifying questions to understand where he’s coming from. One of the best ways to diffuse an argument is to ask for more information or to summarize what the other person is saying. By repeating back what someone is saying you 1) let the other person know they were heard 2) give yourself a chance to listen rather than respond to arguments.
 Hypothetical shopping. Patrick and I love to house shop/window shop/trip plan even if we’re not planning to follow through with our plans. We love to have a common goal and find out a lot about our preferences and ideas while we’re brainstorming.
Netflix and pizza. Once a week we try to have a date night meal that consists of something that isn’t in our typical diet. We meal plan every week for as long as we’ve been married and it’s nice to mix it up every now and then and watch The Voice while stuffing our face with Digiorno’s (only if it’s stuffed crust though).
Gift cards for the win. Patrick and I are experts at balling on a budget, and will seldom go out to eat unless we have a gift card. We are currently rocking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace plan to demolish our student loan debt, and have used this common goal to connect us, but also challenge us to be creative with how we connect. Rather than go out for coffee or have dinner out, we meal prep together every Sunday and will be in the kitchen together when we can.
Cell Phones down. This one is harder for me than him, but I will try to put my phone on airplane mode in the evening and keep it in the other room, so that I don’t get distracted while we’re together. I also try to leave it home when we’re at the gym together, although we all know amazing boomerangs happen at this time.
Be the bigger person. Marriage is not a mantra of “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.” Rather, it’s loving when you don’t feel like it or being selfless when you feel like you have nothing more to give. Some of the greatest moments in our marriage were waking up early to leave sweet notes around the house, bringing home ice cream when the other person had a rough day (cough* me) or participating in something less than ideal without complaining.
As I write this, I feel so humbled, because Patrick rocks this stuff out wayyyy better than I do. I am just so thankful that I have a human who’s okay with my imperfect, trying and failing daily self.
I am amazed at the man I get to call mine and I would love to hear about the ways that you show love to your significant other. Enjoy your date nights ya’ll!!!