“Date your wife. Take her out. Get her flowers. Maybe it will reignite something?”
– Christian leader to faithful husband
I find this advice obnoxious.
Sadly, it seems ubiquitous in evangelical-land as a way to “affair proof” a marriage. Such is dangerous and delusional thinking. The state of the marriage relationship is not what causes adultery. It is the choices of the individual spouses that do.
This advice is especially obnoxious following infidelity discovery. It is bad following both emotional and physical affair discovery.
Such advice sends all the wrong messages to a cheating spouse:
First, it reinforces the lie that her infidelity was caused by her husband’s shortcomings as a spouse. That is false. Adultery is caused by the heart of the adulterous spouse alone (see Jesus’ words in Mark 7:20-23 as proof).
Second, it may make matters worse. The cheating wife might be addicted to a romantic high. She may feel entitled to this high. Now, a professional has just stated that her husband needs to play into this entitlement and feed into her addiction. This professional has failed to correctly diagnosis the infidelity as a utterly unacceptable sin that she needs to repent to her husband for choosing. Even if the advice “works,” it is likely just to drive the addiction underground like being a dry drunk. The root is never addressed this way.
The female version of this advice to date one’s wife is being told to buy sexy lingerie and initiate more sex. This does not fix the infidelity but does blameshift onto the faithful spouse. It is not godly advice.
Finally, I find the whole “date your wife” idea strange and out of place even for “healthy” couples. I consider it on the same level as people saying a father is “babysitting” his own children as opposed just being a good father.
Obviously, spouses need to spend time investing in their relationship together doing things that builds their bond. I do not consider this dating as if it is a ritual to keep one’s spouse as “dating” suggests in the regular parlance. We have couple time when married.
Our dating days are over.
That ship has sailed.
If I wanted the uncertainty of living in a relationship with such a tenuous commitment were my romantic performance is forever being evaluated, I would never get married and just date my entire life. Marriage vows matter. They are game changers.
I understand some might disagree with me on this point.
But I am bother by such language for one very important reason:
“Dating” language trivializes the commitment aspect of the marriage covenant.
And for a cheating spouse, the last thing a pastor or Christian counselor ought to do is trivialize the marital vows and that commitment before God. The cheating spouse does not need more excitement or new experiences in his or her life but a lesson in following through with his or her adult commitments.
By all means, invest in your marriage and have weekends away together as a couple. However, realize “dating” your spouse is not a solution to infidelity issues. Both spouses choosing to live up to their marriage commitment is.
The advice to date one’s spouse is like giving someone a squirt gun filled with gasoline and telling him to put out his burning house. It will likely just make things worse.