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I don’t mean to brag, but many of my dates with my husband involve downtown high rises, valet parking, and slightly revealing gowns. We leave the kids in good hands and make a day of it. The special treatment is poured on thick. No expense is spared. 

Now, of the two of us, I may not be the one wearing the sexy gown, but that’s a minor detail. And that special treatment is actually all directed toward my date. And it’s not as much poured, per se, as it is injected, infused, or extracted, depending on the particular rendezvous. The kids are in the excellent hands of their teachers because it’s a school day. During this outing, I may not be the only woman getting chummy with my husband, the lights may be the exact opposite wattage of romantic, and we may be footing the bill for months. But we are together. And that’s what matters.

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We chat and sip coffee on our 20-minute drive to the hospital. Well, I sip coffee. He was cut off from liquids hours ago. But as we cruise into the historically beautiful downtown area, the atmosphere has that date-like quality. The empty backseat may have something to do with that vibe. With young kids at home, couple car rides are rare and to be treated with respect. I don’t care if that vehicle is taking us to the grocery store, the accountant’s office, or the hospital, the moments in that mom-and-dad-only mobile should be viewed as a date on wheels. Since we are of the blended variety of marriages and have never known each other without kids, these dates are especially special. 

Seven years ago, my husband was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, the rare and incurable blood cancer that affects the bone marrow. In the not-so-distant past, a diagnosis of this kind left a patient with a devastatingly short life expectancy. Thankfully, that is not the case these days. Although it’s a rollercoaster ride for sure, it’s a ride that can be ridden indefinitely. Now, I detest rollercoasters. The very few I’ve been dragged on to left me with no voice, the poor person in front of me with impaired hearing, and all of my vital organs rearranged. The highs and lows of figurative rollercoasters can produce the same results sometimes, but I sure am thankful for the ride. 

After debilitating rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, and a bone marrow transplant in the beginning, the new treatments and drugs that are continually being developed are a welcomed regimen. The cocktail of oral, infusion, and injection medications seems to be doing its job. Drugs and Jesus make it so that my husband can not only survive but thrive.

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Similarly, I believe a regimen of dating is a must for a marriage relationship to thrive. That cocktail may include planned evenings out on the town, impromptu walks around the block, grocery store runs, or bone marrow biopsies. I’ve come to realize they aren’t all going to look like a scene from a Hallmark movie.

The advice we were given years ago to make dating a priority is a prescription to think outside the box. Because life doesn’t fit neatly inside a box. And the heartbeat of dating your spouse is the heart of your spouse. It’s about intentionality and time rather than activity or location. I’m thankful my date happens to be a good sport, a trooper, a hero. And he wears a hospital gown like a stud. 

We will strive to utilize whatever awkward or less-than-perfect moments we are gifted. Even those super romantic ones where we sip apple juice from a cardboard box and play card games while being serenaded by monitor beeps. As long as it doesn’t involve a rollercoaster, it’s romance in my book.

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Christen McKey

Christen McKey writes, mothers, and joyfully camps, often all at the same time. She shares about the world of camping in her children’s book, The Joyful Camper, available on Amazon. Christen also utilizes her communication skills at a non-profit Christian ministry. When she’s not traveling to state parks with her family and logging camping details for her website VirginiaisforCampers.com, she enjoys time at home in Virginia with her husband, kids, and mountain dog.  @christen.mckey @wordycamper

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