“If you are not working on your marriage, you are working on your divorce.” – The Oola Guys
We met in 1990 at the University of Rhode Island. It was the first week of school.cMatt lived across the hall and I thought he looked like one of the New Kids on The Block.
When I met Matt I was going through a difficult time in my life. I believe God brought him into my life at just the right moment. He was kind, funny, loving, and strong. We met on a Tuesday and were together by that Friday. We’ve been together ever since.
Over the years we have been through many joyous moments: marriage, a new home, graduations, and new jobs. But the biggest blessing of all was the birth of our son. It’s been our joy to watch him grow into an amazing young man.
But we’ve also been through some very difficult times: the loss of Matt’s best friend, both of my parents, and Matt’s brother. And then there’s my health issues.
Matt and I got married in 1998. We said, from the beginning, that it was not just about our wedding day, but also about the rest of our lives. We stood before God and our family and made a commitment to each other. The reception was the icing on the cake as we started out on our amazing journey.
“A great marriage isn’t something you find, it is something you make and have to keep working on.” - The Oola Guys
We aren’t idealists. We know marriages take work, love, compassion, and patience. My parents divorced when I was 20. I was deeply wounded by the pain of their separation. I wanted to make sure that never happened to us, or to our son.
So I prioritized:
- Being present
- Connecting with my husband
- Supporting him
Over the last 23 years, through all the ups and downs, we’ve remained steadfast, committed, and best friends.
But as I went through the Oola coaching certification, and completed the Wheel Exercise, I realized that although Matt and I were happy we hadn’t been out on a date for a very long time. Our focus, for the last 16 years, has been on raising our son. We’ve been so focused on our roles as parents that our marriage wasn’t in our sights.
When we made our goals this year, using the Oola Framework, we decided to prioritize the F called Family. One of our Family goals is to infuse a little bit of Fun into our marriage.
That’s how we came up with is #52firstdates.
We committed to one date a week for 2021 and we decided to take turns picking what the date looks like. So far we’ve:
- Tried new restaurants
- Had coffee by the ocean
- Walked through fields of tulips
- Had a picnic on our bedroom floor
- Discovered new trails near our house to hike
- Had a date in Epcot, tasting food from around the world.
We are having so much fun, and we aren’t even half way through the year.
Things we’ve learned so far:
- The need to slow down
- To put our phones away
- Block out work, and the world, a little bit each week
- Have deeper conversations
- Dream and plan together now for the 2nd half of our lives
- How our actions are showing our son what a strong, healthy marriage looks like.
#52firstdates has been a complete blessing for us. Oola teaches us to look at where we are balanced, and where we need to grow. Although we are strong as a family unit, we realized, through the Oola framework, that our marriage needed a little more attention and fun.
Do you need to do 52 dates in a year to connect with your spouse?
Here are a few tips for you:
- Put the date on your calendar- if it is there, you will be less apt to forget, or run out of time that week for your date.
- Take turns picking your date- try something new! Maybe its paddle boarding, rock climbing, or a new restaurant.
- It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money- a cup of coffee in a pretty spot, a walk on the beach, playing board games, or a special dinner you make together is great. It is about the time together, not the cost.
- Keep track of your dates- we have a little jar and we write down each date that we do and what we did. We are looking forward to reading them on New Year’s Eve this year!
- Plan an end of the year getaway- to celebrate your year of dates! Figure out the cost of a fun little weekend away and divide that by 12 months. Save that money each month in a special account. If you don’t have the extra money, be creative! Sell some things on Facebook Marketplace, spend less each month on takeout or find someone who has a place that you can stay at for free. We are looking forward to our first trip away by ourselves in 12 years when we go to Nashville in December!
If you are feeling like your marriage could use a little TLC, this might be a great way to reconnect with your spouse, and to remember why you fell in love in the first place. If once a week is too big a commitment start small; maybe 1 or 2 times a month.
Small steps lead to big changes and that’s how you start living your Oola life!
Written by Sheri Poyant. Sheri is a Certified Oola Life Coach and you can find her at www.sheripoyant.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.