Once a week, Hubby and I hop in the car and make the drive across town to our local Starbucks for date night. We started this tradition, if you will, around the start of the new year just after Hubby returned from his deployment. The day may change from one week to the next depending on our schedules and whims, but we try not to skip a week if we can help it. A few weeks ago as we drove to Starbucks, I mentioned off-handedly that it’s too bad there wasn’t another coffee shop in town closer to our house, because it was such a far drive from our house to Starbucks. (If I’m honest, only about 15-20 minutes, which in retrospect is a very silly thing to complain about.) My husband brought up a very good point: the fact that it’s a bit of a drive just to get to our date spot gives us a priceless and uninterrupted opportunity to spend time talking and reconnecting mid-week. Got me there! And as much as I look forward each week to settling into the familiar leather chairs with a hazelnut latte in hand and my best friend by my side, date night is more than just a chance to grab coffee and catch up in the midst of the busyness. Because we’ve got an agenda!
After the barista hands us our favorite drinks, we seek out the quietest table we can find – which in a Starbucks filled with chattering college students and boasting fairly poor acoustics, is a tough thing to come by – and pull out the latest Christ-centered marriage book we’re reading through together. Following a quick prayer, Hubby will flip to the start of the next chapter and begin to read aloud. After a few pages, he’ll hand it to me to read a few pages, and so on until we finish the chapter. It’s a bit like grade school “Popcorn Reading”, but with only two people. You never know when you’ll be up next, so you have to stay on your toes!
I know we contribute greatly to the aforementioned hubbub that we try so desperately to escape, but there’s just something about reading aloud to each other in a crowded room that makes you feel as though you’re all alone in the world, just the two of you. It makes you scoot in closer, inclining your heads together so you can clearly hear each other’s voice; it forces you to consciously focus on the content of his words as your spouse reads aloud; it leaves you thinking deeply so you’re sure to catch what God has to say to you through the text. I think it’s the same way with faith lived out in marriage. If you chose each day to stick close to your spouse as you seek Christ together, God is sure to speak into your life through your spouse in a profound way.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no expert when it comes to marriage! Hubby and I have only been married for two and a half years next month, but God has used these last few years to teach us and mold us a great deal through our marriage. I am so blessed by the many older and wiser couples he brought into our lives to give us godly mentorship and encouragement, and for the wisdom they have shared. I’m grateful for the Christian authors like John Piper, Larry Crabb, and numerous others from whose books we have gained such valuable insight. I’m grateful most of all for a God who gives me grace in my brokenness, and a husband who mirrors that grace in the midst of my many imperfections.
So before I get to far off on a rabbit trail, here are a few of the books I would recommend to other couples young or old who are eager to learn more about God’s view of marriage:
- This Momentary Marriage by John Piper – A solid exploration of what the Bible has to say about marriage as a picture of Christ’s covenant-keeping love for the church. We are currently reading through this book, and absolutely love it!
- The Marriage Builder by Larry Crabb – This was our first Date Night Book that we recently finished. A very straight-forward and practical discussion of Christ rather than our spouse as the fulfillment of our greatest human need, and three key building blocks essential to a Christ-centered and meaningful marriage.
- I Married You by Walter Trobisch – We read this as part of our premarital counseling and it was fantastic. The narrative – centered on leaving, cleaving, and becoming one flesh – recounts true stories from the author’s time in Africa teaching the locals about marriage. This was a very engaging read.
- Rocking the Roles by Robert Lewis and William Hendricks – Also read as part of our premarital counseling and highly recommended. This book examines what the Bible really has to say about male and female roles in marriage and explores Biblical submission, spiritual headship, and a host of related topics on respect, support, and equality (yet not sameness) in marriage.
If you take the opportunity to read any of these books, I can guarantee you’ll learn a thing or two and I hope you enjoy them as much as we have!
On a final note, for those wondering if a regular coffee shop date night is something you and your spouse might want to try, take heart – there is a way to do Starbucks on a budget! You can purchase a reusable grande-size plastic cup with lid at Starbucks for only $1. Once you’ve purchased your handy dandy cup, you’ll get 10 cents off of your drink each time you use it and if you order a tall, the barista will automatically make your drink a grande to fit the size of the cup for no extra charge. You simply need to wash your reusable cup and lid at home in the dishwasher in between visits. Easy peasy! Since we’re sticking to a strict budget to save and prep for Hubby’s seminary costs starting next fall, we also take advantage of a Starbucks “membership” card to help keep us on track. How do we do that? Well, at the beginning of each month, we load up a predetermined amount of money onto our Starbucks card and that’s all we’re allowed to spend for the month. The card also gives you perks like a free drink on your birthday, and redeemable rewards after so many purchases. Using the Starbucks card app (check it out here), we can keep track of how much we have left and pay right from our phones, so we’ll know if we need to opt for a plain black coffee rather than a latte on our last date night of the month to keep to our budget goals. And if all else fails, we make coffee at home and do a date night in!