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My husband and I recently had an all-night date.
Well, kind of.
By "all-night," what I really mean is that a generous friend took our kids overnight.
(Yeah, I wish it meant that my beloved and I had sex into the wee hours. But we are old).
All that being said, the "all-night date" was awesome. Delicious dinner. Vulnerable conversation. Movie. Sex. Sleep.
And we will likely forget it all.
Don't get me wrong. I'm a big fan of married couples having date night. But I think the real positive value of date night shows up not in our recollection of any particular date, but in the cumulative effect of many dates.
The same is true for regular, intentional, mutually-valued sex in a marriage.
My husband and I have had sex literally hundreds of times. Just in our first year of marriage, I think we averaged about once every other day. The pace has varied over the years, but for the most part, we have a lot of sex.
A few of those sexual encounters stand out to me (just like a few of our dates stand out to me). Priceless sacred memories.
But the vast majority of them? The details are fuzzy. Barely a blip on my relational radar.
The cumulative effect, though -- now that I notice.
One brick rarely stands out when a building is built. But make no mistake -- a whole bunch of well-placed bricks builds an incredibly strong foundation. The foundation we notice.
We know if our marriage is on shaky ground or if indeed we have taken the time to lay enough foundational bricks to make it rock solid.
When a married couple has regular time alone as husband and wife to intentionally nurture their relationship, it can't help but create an invisible -- albeit noticeable -- atmosphere of respect, compassion, friendship and oneness.
Call it relational glue.
Call it intuitive knowing.
Call it whatever you want.
The truth is that it doesn't materialize on its own. We must intentionally lean into friendship, passion and love.
The same is true of sex.
My husband and I intentionally nurture our sexual intimacy not because we are trying to create an unforgettable sexual encounter every single time. (An improbable goal even for the most sexually uninhibited of couples).
We intentionally have sex regularly because doing so has indescribable benefits to the overall health of our relationship.
We love sex.
But we love what sex does for our marriage even more.
So the next time you make love to your husband or have date night with him, start to see those encounters as foundational bricks that are strengthening your relationship in a "hard-to-even-measure" sort of way.
You likely will forget the individual dates. And the individual times you make love.
But you will start to see clearly that all those dates and sexual encounters add up to one incredible marriage.
"One-flesh" lived out daily -- permeating every other aspect of your life together.
Just as God intended it would. That Creator. He sure knew what He was doing.
Copyright 2011, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.