My husband, Jim, and I have been married for more than 30 years, and we consider one another to be our best friends. Despite this, we have to intentionally keep our relationship and marriage on the front burner of life.

Finding time to be with just one another is important to Jim and me. But I confess, it’s not always an easy thing to do. And this isn’t just our isolated problem. It’s common in most marriages—regardless of age.

The following 10 ideas can help you and me intentionally make time for our spouse:

1. Cultivate a common interest.

Your spouse should be your best friend, and friends enjoy spending time with one another. If you and your spouse have different hobbies, find something that you both enjoy doing and do it together. You may want to go bike riding, walk together at the end of a long day, play tennis, or learn how to ballroom dance. Shared experiences enrich marriages and deepen friendship.

“I realized that our relationship had to be a higher priority than my hobbies,” says Dennis Rainey, cofounder of FamilyLife, of his early days of marriage. “Barbara and I had to decide what we wanted to be at the end of our lives—two people who had grown old together as partners or two people who had grown old alone.”

2. Have a regular date night.

If you don’t have a relative nearby who would gladly watch your kids, then consider swapping babysitting with a friend on a regular basis. For example, you would watch their kids on the first Friday of every month and they would watch your kids on the second Saturday of every month.

With a little imagination, you can also plan some great dates at home … not only while the kids are sleeping, but also while they are enjoying pizza or watching a special movie.

3. Try new adventures together.

We only live this life once. Try doing something different to force yourself out of the rut of normal day-to-day living. If you and your spouse would like to do something a little more daring, consider activities such as skydiving, scuba diving, mountain climbing, etc.

“When my husband, Jim, and I said, ‘I do’ 37 years ago, I never envisioned myself camping on a budget or whizzing through the countryside on the back of a motorcycle,” LaRue Launius says. “And Jim never imagined himself thousands of feet up in the air. But God has used these experiences, and countless others, to gradually knit our hearts together as best friends.”

4. Write love letters to one another and read them over a romantic dinner.

Writing letters is almost a lost art form today. You may want to redeem it by regularly expressing your love to your spouse in a letter. Then read it to your spouse over a romantic dinner.

You could purchase special wooden boxes for your love letters. Or, record them in individual journals as a lasting reminder to your legacy of your love for one another.

If you’re not sure how to begin writing your letter, read “Tips for Writing a Notable Love Letter.”

5. Go on overnight getaways—without the kids.

The possibilities are endless. Many state parks have great campsites and beautiful lodges. Staying at a nearby bed and breakfast can be a real treat. Also, hotels often have special weekend getaway packages.

After being married for 10 years, Bill and Carolyn Wellons discovered a secret that re-energizes their relationship—regular getaways. “We may relax at a friend’s lake house, camp at a state park, or book a resort condominium in the off-season,” Bill explains. “God has continued to teach us to step off life’s treadmill and examine the health of our relationship. When we evaluate where we are heading, we reap a fabulous return on investment.”

For ideas about how to make the most of your time away, read “Why It’s Important to Get Away With Your Spouse.”

6. Set aside regular time to talk with one another—without any distractions.

Make time to focus on one another and talk about the day’s events. When our children were young, my husband and I tried to visit together for 10-15 minutes before dinner each evening—just the two of us. You and your spouse may want to do this after the kids go to bed. The important thing is to share heart-to-heart and face-to-face.

If the kids are in school, you may want to have lunch together once a week. Put it on the calendar and make definite appointments. I read about a pastor who did this for years. He had a standing invitation for lunch one day a week that could not be broken—lunch with his wife.

7. Read a book together and discuss it over coffee at a local coffeehouse or bookstore.

Take turns choosing the books. If a movie has been made out of the book, read and discuss it together and then watch the movie. Compare the book to the movie.

You could also go through one of The Art of Marriage® Connect Series studies as a couple. Although these Bible studies are designed for small groups, you could do one with your spouse. Studies include Building Teamwork in Your Marriage, Improving Communication in Your Marriage, and Growing Together in Christ.

8. Be accountable to one another.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 tells us, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.”

You may want to ask your spouse to keep you accountable in a certain area. For example, I have a habit of over-committing myself and having way too many things on the to-do list. My husband is great about bringing me back to earth and helping me establish a more balanced schedule.

Being accountable to our spouse requires one-on-one time—whether it’s over coffee in the morning or evaluating a to-do list together in the afternoon.

“Accountability gives each marriage partner freedom and access to the other,” Dennis Rainey writes. He adds that it means asking for advice and gives a spouse the freedom to share honest observations. “It means we’re teachable and approachable. We both need to be accountable to the other because each partner is fallible and quite capable of using faulty judgment.”

9. Pray together.

When we regularly pray with our spouse, our souls and hearts are uniquely knit together. Sadly, we’ll forget many of the ways God answers our prayers unless we write them down.

You may want to record how God answers your prayers in a notebook. Once a year or so, set aside some time with your spouse and review it together. Spend time thanking the Lord for all He has done.

10. Tune up your marriage at a Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway.

Attending a Weekend to Remember will help you get away from the distractions of life and focus on one another.

“We had a wonderful time,” one wife wrote after attending a Weekend to Remember. “Everyone was so welcoming. We didn’t come to this as a couple who was looking to save their marriage. We came as a couple who needed a tune-up. We’re running good and would like to keep it that way.”

Copyright © 2013 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.