#008: How to Strengthen Your Marriage One Date at a Time with The Dating Divas
Maggie: Hey, hey, welcome back to the Indwelt Women Podcast. This is Maggie Baker. I am so excited to have our guest on today. She is one of the gals behind The Dating Divas. If you don't know who The Dating Divas is, you have to go to their website right now. It is full of resources and ideas that help you plan your date nights and help you strengthen your marriage one date night at a time. So today. we're going to have one of the gals here to talk all things date night related, how to pursue your husband and about how to strengthen your marriage because your marriage is one of the most important relationships we can have. Without further ado, let's welcome Miss Melissa.
Melissa: Hi! I'm so excited to be here!
Maggie: I'm excited to have you on! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Melissa: Yeah! A little bit about me: I am a wife and a mom and I used to be a marriage therapist. I did a couple different kinds of therapy before becoming a stay-at-home mom so when I had the opportunity to work for The Dating Divas it was like the perfect fit. Plus I had already given a super fan girl of the site before. So, yeah, I love it!
Maggie: Yeah, totally! Can you tell us a little bit more about The Dating Divas? Some of us may not be familiar with it.
Melissa: Yeah! Okay, so, our founder is Tara and she is the cutest person in the whole world. The founding story behind The Dating Divas is really fun - she started it out when she noticed that her marriage was starting to get a little bit boring. When she and her husband Jamie first started dating, they were going on super fun dates, doing so much together and spending all your waking moments texting each other and calling. You know, really putting a lot of time in your courtship. But after being married for several years and she started to realize that they were getting a little lax in the relationship and the yoga pants came out and date nights just sorted of consisted of just being, "what's on TV?"
Melissa: They stopped trying new fun things and dating each other. It just wasn't a priority anymore so Tara was really smart and she realized that she wanted to keep that excitement that they first had in their marriage and in their relationship when they were first dating. So if you want to stay in love you need to keep doing the same things that help you fall in love in the first place; so she thought of an idea: what if my friends and I started a blog, we could take turns posting a date idea on Monday and the rest of us will copy that fun idea in the weekend with our own spouses.
So it was just this little site for friends where Tara will take Monday one week and Carrie will take the next week and so on and they'll all try it the next weekend. So she quickly emailed her girlfriends and they were all on board. Once the blog was up and going, other people found out about it and they were like, "well, this is a great idea!" So friends and family all wanted a link to the site for the date ideas that they were sharing and so it really just spread like wildfire and the rest is history. We have since grown to incorporate a lot of other women and different sites and elements to the site which includes kids and families and all that kind of stuff. So now we're strengthening marriage and family. We also have some incredible programs that are resources because not everybody has a perfect marriage - nobody has a perfect marriage, to be honest - but some people are at different points and stages in their marriage so if they're having a rocky relationship, we've got an amazing program for that. If you are just kind of needing to spice things up, we've got a program for that. So we have some different options depending on where you're at in your marriage.
Maggie: I love it. I found you guys a couple years after you guys started so I think that was right around when I first got married. And I was like, "This is the best!! I love all these ideas!!"
Melissa: Haha - I did too!
Maggie: Yeah, and they were all printables and all planned out for you. I was like, "This is perfect!"
Melissa: I know! Everything is done for you - it's like, "what do I want to do tonight? I think that we want to go miniature golfing. Let's see if the site has an idea for that - oh - there's like 12, haha, take your pick!
Maggie: I love it - So why should we spend the time and effort to make date nights a priority cause we're all busy, right?
Melissa: Yeah! So we actually got this comment the other day on the site where this lady was making some really big assumptions that we all live by family and have our parents able to babysit our kids and we have a lot of money and we are just - like it was kind of funny - because we actually live 2000 miles - on the opposite coasts of our family and we didn't know anybody when we first built our house in the city that we live in. And so we didn't have a babysitter watch my three-year-old for the first 2 1/2 years of his life. And my husband, he had just finished his doctorate, we were trying to work on student loans and all that. And all of the girls behind The Dating Divas are in different various cycle life circumstances; we're just on different stages and a lot of us don't have these "perfect" scenario where we can have somebody that's a family member watch our kids. But putting that time and effort back into your marriage and being able to say, "okay, let's work with what we do have and we know that spending time together is important because we want to still like each other once the kids are grown and we have tons of free dates so if you don't have two dimes to rub together and you don't have a babysitter, well you can spend time - you can take that time and find a couple of hours or couple of minutes to connect with your spouse and to make that little mini date night priority. It doesn't matter your circumstances, where there's a will there's a way.
Maggie: Totally. And a lot of us are in a more challenging season or maybe we're in transition like having a newborn in the house or we have opposite schedules from our spouses and so, do you have tips for making date nights happen or just spending a few minutes with each other intentionally.
Melissa: Yeah! Okay so here's a couple of tips: Planning it - putting it on the calendar and keeping that appointment. I don't know about you but I take my appointments that I make and my commitments really seriously. So I try to look at the calendar and find some spots in our day and that might be out of the house or in the house depending on the circumstances but where can we carve out an hour, you know, obviously we would love more and we'd love to have the whole nine yards but where can we carve out that time each week or even just a few times a month. If you aren't able to get to date night every single week - once a month is gonna be better than not at all and so just finding a time that you can get that together and then the other tip that I would is a lot goes a long way with a little bit of physical and emotional connection. If you're taking the time to hug and kiss your spouse every day - you've mentioned being on opposite schedules - say your husband's coming in the door when you're getting up to leave for work in the morning and you just take five minutes and do 10 seconds of human interaction and touch. It goes huge - it releases endorphins and I could geek out on the whole physiological side of it but it really is going to make a difference. So making those little tiny times that you can just connect with each other.
Maggie: Totally! And I think there are little things that we can do if date nights really are not possible for this current season. I think there's something that you can do to show love to serve them. My favorite is like giving a massage or a back rub or something. I mean, yeah, I get tired by the end of the night but even just 5 minutes of it he would appreciate it so much because he does physical labor all day. So he always likes massages.
Melissa: Right! So, right now, I am seven months pregnant and giving my husband a massage sounds like... basically pulling my teeth out... at the dentist. Just kidding but a hand massage is also something you can do. Well what I did the other day, I went and bought a bunch of stuff for breakfast and printed out some of our cute little printables that are just sweet little notes and it was stuff I was gonna buy anyways because we have breakfast but I just prepped it in a cute way and left it for him. I brought it in and put it on his night stand so he could see it when he got out of the shower and he could just have this little moment. And I just snuck back in and I was like, "Hey! Good morning! Thank you, I love you, thanks for working so hard!" It was like five minutes of my day and it was just this little gesture. Like what's your husband's favorite candy? We have these little candy bar printable cards that you can just print out. Go get a candy bar next time you're at the grocery store. It's a dollar or less. Print one out, wrap it up and leave it for them somewhere they're gonna see - their gym bag or briefcase or - you know what I mean? There's just so many options.
Maggie: Yeah! I love it! It's so simple. I feel like sometimes we over-complicate things.
Melissa: Oh, totally, I feel like I'm the queen of that.
Maggie: Haha - I feel like we all are at times. So, do you see any pitfalls that we as wives fall into when it comes to date nights and pursuing our husbands?
Melissa: So, something that we see on the site and with our amazing readers - and I saw it in therapy, too - you have people that really want to connect with their husbands but they are wanting their husbands to connect in their love language rather than connecting with their husbands in and their husbands' love language, if that makes sense.
Melissa: If we treat others how we want to be treated it's gonna come back to us. So if you're being sweet and you're being complimentary and you're doing little acts of service and you're doing these things. So many times our husbands will pick up on that and they start to realize that you're gonna be getting that back. Sometimes, I think, like you said, women just over complicate things and we want it done a certain way. And expectations are, I swear, they are the root of all unhappiness. Because people have all these expectations of what their weddings are gonna be like, or the first year of marriage or the honeymoon. And things never go as planned. Our honeymoon - we had 12 days in the Caribbean. We flew into one of the islands to stay and took a cruise and all that stuff. And I was sick for like three days of it - haha - and that's okay! Our honeymoon was amazing, it was a great time. My husband, I made him go out, he went dancing one night when we were on the ship. He was like this newlywed, this single guy out there on the dance floor. You know, it definitely did not go as expected, like cute little Champagne and roses kind of thing. But it was fun and there are so many little situations that happen like that that I just laugh about now. To me, I think it adds character and they definitely were not what we expected and sometimes that's better than we would've expected but it's just going with the punches and not setting your husband up for failure. If he doesn't like to send roses, don't get offended by that. But what if he's always washing your car, you know, that's his roses.
Maggie: Totally. Can you share your favorite ideas for date nights.
Melissa: Oh, goodness. I really like the ones that we don't have to go out of the house for. Just because like I said, we didn't get a babysitter for 2.5 years of our son's life - I am a crazy mom - so I get it. And now the person who watches them, we watch her kids too. And I have security cameras in my house so I can keep an eye on things and I totally trust them. I'm just paranoid. And now we're gonna have a new baby and so there's another 2 1/2 years so I really love the ones that don't cost a lot of money and that are super unique and creative and things that we wouldn't usually do and that we can do at home. We have a couple of dates that fit into that - well, thousands of dates that fit into that category but I love the Jelly Bean date on our site. My husband, I think that's his favorite - ha! I don't wanna get too TMI but look up the Jelly Bean date. Basically, you assign a Jelly Bean color to a body part and an action and then you have this little spinner that you print off. You spin it around and you pull a Jelly Bean and you follow the direction... Hehe :) We don't need a babysitter for that.
Maggie: No, not at all!
Melissa: And then we have some pillow talk conversation cards which I really love and I know that's not necessarily a date but it's a great road trip, it's great to take these pillow talk questions to dinner and it's great to just sit at night and go through these and you'll find so much out about your spouse that you never would've known. They're just so funny, like, what would their superhero power be? I don't know if your husband and you are like my husband and I, we'll be like, "what would your superpower be?" And then we'll have an hour long conversation about, you know, Batman versus Superman. Haha! So yeah, I just love it. Some of those easy ones, like you said, sometimes simple is better.
Maggie: Totally. Do you have stories of marriages turning around for good because they're committed to pursuing each other and having fun together?
Melissa: We do! So we have some awesome testimonials from people who... this is why we do what we can. We get the feedback from our readers, we get these testimonials that are telling us how much date night has improved their marriage and relationship and it's so awesome but we also get testimonials where people are like, "we were pleading and praying with God that we would be able to find our way back to each other and find loving one another again and that night we were looking up something else online like preschool ideas on Pinterest and there was a snippet about our free 7 Days of Love Program." And they decided to give their marriage another shot and totally just renewed their marriage.
So we definitely have a lot of those things happening and that's why we do what we do.
Maggie: That is so awesome.
Melissa: It's like the best! What's what I said - it's the best job!
Maggie: Rainbows and sunshine :)
Melissa: We definitely do get the sad and the hard and it breaks our hearts. But we feel like we have solutions and we've been there and we have all... you know, nobody's marriage is perfect and we've all gone through struggles. Our struggles might look different from yours. But yeah.
Maggie: Totally. You don't get the rainbow until after it's rained so.
Melissa: Right! And then it might rain again but then you're equipped with the tools so you know how to get back on track and how to get those rainbows back.
Maggie: Yeah, so what kind of tools do you have for people that may not be in the best marriage season right now?
Melissa: So like I mentioned earlier we have these programs that are customized to where you're at in your marriage. We have one called Reclaim Your Marriage and that is super awesome. It is for people whose marriages are struggling and they need help. It's a 10 week comprehensive course that dives deep into the 10 most crucial marriage topics and helps to tackle and overcome the problem areas in your relationship. You can try it out for free.
And then we have the Marriage Masters Program and that's like if you got into a boring routine and you just need somebody to be like, "okay, today, do this. Next week do this. Friday you're gonna do this." It just sets everything out and it's a 26-week course and it helps you to rediscover the fun in your marriage so you get the sparks back.
And then Diva Central is if your marriage is already good or great and you just want to be more intentional to make sure it stays that way and it's regular romance tips and dating discounts and it's a lot of fun so those are the things that we have for marriages that might not be in the perfect situation.
Maggie: Cool! Do you have any words of encouragement for the wives that are in the mist of these tough seasons?
Melissa: That they're not alone and that it's not out of the ordinary and it's not uncommon but that it gets better. It can get better. Obviously, we stress a lot on the site that if you're going through physical abuse or some different dramatic abuses and things like that, you need to get professional help. We would never encourage anybody to stay in a dangerous situation so they will need to assess that.
That's the extreme side but for most marriages, they can work out if you want it to, if you're willing to put in the work. But you're not alone and we're here. We have readers that will send us Facebook messages and we love them so much because we are rooting for them and giving advice and be like let me ask the rest of the girls to see what they recommend and it's just this huge vault of knowledge. And they have this little cheerleaders section that they probably don't even know exists. So, yeah, just hang in there and give it another shot.
Maggie: Yeah, totally, and I would agree: you guys have a great community to support wives. So where can our listeners find more of your resources and how they can connect with you more?
Melissa: We have our site TheDatingDivas.com we are on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. We're also on Twitter and Google Plus if you're gonna look for us there. But I would say the main places that people interact with us are on Instagram and Facebook and Pinterest. And obviously the site as well, so you can find this on all of those. And we are live on there, you're not gonna get a bot, you're not gonna a no-response. We check it, we read every single comment or question or anything that comes in. That's what motivates us, it's what keeps us going.
Maggie: Thank you for what you do guys. It really truly is amazing; I've always loved what you guys do. And thank you for sharing your ideas and sharing your encouragement with us today.
Melissa: Thanks! Thanks for having me! :)
Podcast music: Sunny Holidays & Summertime by Nicolai Heidlas