Married Couples and Time Alone
One of the interesting marriage laws of Deuteronomy is found in chapter 24:5, "When a man is newly married, he shall not go out with the army or be liable for any other public duty. He shall be free at home one year to be happy with his wife whom he has taken."
It should be noted that this instruction is found immediately following Moses' law of divorce. It almost seems a remedy for failed marriage. Here is the divorce law, but if you don't want that to happen, then make certain you spend enough time with one another. The man's sole duty the first year of marriage was to make certain he attended to the happiness of his wife. Talk about singular devotion! What could he do for a year? Think about how much time they could spend on walks, with supper, getting things done around the tent, physical devotion, even helping others. Why were these instructions only written to the man? In a time when men were often the sole provider for the family, he would be the one to exercise this command. Besides, as a man showed his wife his complete love for her, that would likely only encourage her to show the same to him. She would know she was the most important thing in his life (next to God), and she would hopefully return his devotion.
Thousands of years have passed, but this ancient advice still has some merit to it. I know it isn't practical for couples not to work during their first year of marriage, but they can and should go to great pains to spend time with one another. To many things work to pull couples a part in the first several years of marriage: work, extended family issues, getting used to living with someone or even conflicting personalities, financial issues, etc. Often these happen innocently enough; a man's got to work, doesn't he? Am I really supposed to put my wife before mother and father? I've known them all my life! I'm getting tired of his whiskers in my sink!
This illustrates for us the importance of Genesis 2:24, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." When we cleave to our wives or husbands as God intended, we will long to be with them, which aids in the "one flesh" process. We long to be with them because that is how we get to know them; we learn their hopes and dreams, the things that make them happy, the things they are afraid of, when their best time of the day is, how they like the toilet paper hung, which side of the bed they prefer, etc. All of these are things that often come only from observation in time spent with one another, and is valuable for the rest of the marriage.
One of the things I tell young married couples is don't stop dating just because you are now married, especially if children come along. Life gets hectic; devote special time to your spouse. Such efforts sends a message to them that they are important enough to you that you are willing to put work, children, hobbies, shopping, or any other activity (other than God) on hold for a while. Such times renew our attention to one another in marriage and provide times for real, healthy conversation.