Still celebrating love after 15 years with my wife

As Valentine's Day approaches, I am reminded of the many great dates Lisa and I have enjoyed over the past 15 years. Since this is the time of year to celebrate love and romance, it seems appropriate to offer a few thoughts on the subject.

I am not a great "dater," but I know a good date from a bad one. I have begun to give this year's holiday some thought, but am struggling both with coming up with an original idea and with the fact that I will be out of town (Mexico) for the week leading to 14th and returning on Valentine's evening (a fact that Lisa was not pleased to hear).

My aim in this post is to offer a few insights that have helped me plan dates with Lisa. I have three suggestions that I hope you will find helpful. (Note: I speak with no authority, just personal experience.)

■ First, seek help! I listen regularly to Family Life Today on WJMM at 6:30 a.m. Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine give phenomenal advice on multiple subjects related to the family, marriage, parenting, etc. I need all the help I can get! For example, on Monday's broadcast this week, the guest on the show mentioned that a woman simply wants to "be heard" without the husband offering any advice. On Feb. 3, Lisa and I went to Harry's before the UK/MSU game. What do you think my agenda was? To listen! I have been taught this principle on other occasions, but I need to be reminded often.

■ Second, as already indicated, there should be some type of eating/drinking involved. I cannot prove this, but I am convinced that the greatest moments of fellowship with our spouses or friends happen over the right combination of food and drink. The best date Lisa and I enjoyed last year was a meal in Asheville, N.C., at the Grove Park Inn. What made the date enjoyable? The food was fabulous! As well, the ambience was incredible. In some way, the conversation seemed to be connected to the food. Maybe this is just us. We usually don't spend much money going out to eat, but good conversation and good food make for a nice combination. During the summer, we often stay at home on a Saturday night and grill out after the kids are in bed, and that is an inexpensive and enjoyable time.

■ Last — and you would expect a pastor to end with this — I recommend praying for creativity. I heard a great quote once that has stayed with me: "If you were made by the creator of the universe, it is impossible not be creative." That is, people made in the image of God, as we all are, have the ability to create! Therefore, I take advantage of who I am — a child of God — and summon him to help me think creatively — and this includes a good date with my wife.

So what are we doing this year? I am still working on that, but I suppose I want a clever idea that will include good conversation with appropriate cuisine!