By Rachel Baker, Crosswalk.com
Before we got married, my husband and I were expert daters. We picnicked in the park under the canopy of hundred-year-old trees, perused book stores and went for dessert, we attended jazz concerts and even enjoyed the cliché of long walks on the beach.
We held hands and focused on each other, we put away distractions and made each other feel important. We were falling for each other, which made dating effortless. Courtship led to love, which led to marriage, and a short 19 months later a baby in a baby carriage.
Once our first was born we tried to continue dating like we had in the past, but often we struck out on the basis of exhaustion or difficulty finding a sitter. Date night went from a weekly occurrence to monthly.
We almost absentmindedly began allowing too much time to pass before connecting. We stopped dating and pursuing each other. Somehow dating got hard, it didn’t feel like the natural courting we had done in our early relationship. We were in a rut!
If you’ve experienced anything remotely close to what we did, may I please make a suggestion? End the rut this weekend. If you have little ones find a friend, family member or babysitter. Our relationships with our spouses are so incredibly important.
We need to continue dating each other long after our wedding day. Here is a tried and true list of fun and fantastic date nights that you and your spouse can enjoy this weekend.
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1. Coffee Dates
Whether you’ve been married for years or are just beginning to date grabbing a coffee with your significant other is a great way to connect.
The majority of my courtship with my husband was spent in coffee shops. In fact, we met in a coffee shop! We’d drink countless pots of French-pressed coffee and talk about everything. We’d dream together, set goals together, talk about the future and our pasts.
To this day, a little coffee date with my husband sparks joy and reminds us to listen and share what’s going on in our lives. Coffee dates aren’t budget-busters and can work around almost any busy schedule.
One standing rule that my husband and I have during our coffee connects is to put the phones away. Our sitter knows that if there is an emergency she can call twice and then I’ll pick up, but otherwise keep your phones in your purses and pockets. Look each other in the eye, listen to each other, dream together.
2. Discovering a New Neighborhood Together
During our first few years of marriage, my husband and I lived in a quaint small town in Northern Colorado. Being new to town, we spent countless afternoons meandering through their historical downtown and neighborhoods.
We discovered parks filled with roses and stories of the town’s history, we fell in love with different houses with historical charm and daydreamed of the stories within those walls. These long walks were filled with conversation, handholding and relationship building.
Again, we ditched our cell phones to be present with each other. Looking back, I realize I don’t have a single picture of us from those afternoons spent together. As you date, do more things that encourage this level of presence, and again ditch the cell phones.
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3. Finding Local Adventures
In our 11 years of marriage, we have lived in 4 different states. Each one has it’s own unique culture, history and charm.
For this weekend’s date night, why don’t you and your partner discover something charming about your own community? You could uncover a new neighborhood, a funky airbnb, a beautiful park, a new hiking trail, a farm with unique offerings, or a scenic road to drive.
Discovering something new, together, can bring you and your significant other closer together. Pack a picnic or grab coffees to go, get away together, even if getting away means you stay in your own community. Find the new, unique or charming. You are building memories with the one you love.
4. Cooking Together
Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a truly awful cook, I can cook one thing: Tacos. My husband on the other hand is an artist in the kitchen. He comes up with the most interesting meals and feels peaceful while cooking.
Even though I don’t love to cook, I’ve found that some of our best conversations happen in the kitchen, especially if we’re not under some sort of deadline to prepare a meal for our kids. A couple of years ago we started using one of those box delivery systems to try new meals. We weren’t able to leave the house all that often as our kiddos were pretty young at the time and finding a consistent babysitter was a struggle.
So, we started doing a weekly at-home date night. I’d feed the kids and then get them set up with a movie. I’d return to the kitchen with my husband. We’d turn on some of our favorite music and begin cooking together.
I typically held the role of sous-chef and dishwasher while my husband did the heavier lifting making sure our food was cooked properly. Almost always these little cooking sessions led to silly kitchen dancing, laughing and talking. To this day those are some of my favorite date nights.
When preparing for this date night pick something new to cook together, light some candles, play your favorite music and enjoy creating something together in the kitchen.
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5. Serve Together
A friend of mine shared a few of her favorite date nights. She and her fiancé will spend an evening baking together and then drop off surprise treats to their friends and family. These date nights both deepen the connection of this sweet young couple and allows them to serve the people that they love.
Some of my favorite “dates” with my husband have been afternoons spent serving our local church and community. Working together can fortify your relationship and give back to your community. If you’re not sure where to start serving perhaps begin with your local church.
Serve together for a community outreach event or by helping meet the needs of someone in your congregation. Do these things in love and with intention. As Proverbs 11:25 prompts us "A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed." So too will your relationship be refreshed when you serve together!
6. Go Vintage
One of my friends recommends a vintage night out. She and her husband will get all dressed up and go for milkshakes and then see an old movie together.
Her favorite venues are drive-in theaters or when her hometown does movies in the park. Often times these drive-in movies have a community feel to them, everyone gets out their lawn chairs and brings their own treats. If this feels like a fun date night for you and your partner, prepare in advance by packing a picnic, perhaps baking a special treat, maybe even inviting a few other friends.
If you’re unable to find a drive-in or movie in the park locally another fun idea is to set one up in your own backyard. Think twinkle lights and projector, pick a romantic movie that you’ve seen maybe a hundred times, my personal favorite is The Princess Bride. Make your space cozy and sweet, and remember date nights do not need to be major productions to be memorable and lovely.
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7. Get Silly
I’ve heard it said that those who laugh together stay together.
Even now one of my husband’s best qualities is his ability to make me laugh. I’m far too serious and he is excellent at helping me enjoy life for all it’s worth. To keep your date night fun and full of laughter only talk about light topics.
It’s great to go deep when in conversation with our loved ones, however, sometimes that can set a heavy tone. For this date night, keep it light! Focus on fun. Perhaps choose to do something as a couple that you are both bad at.
One friend of mine told me that she and her husband signed up to do Zumba together. They were terrible! But laughed the whole night through and still remember that date night as one of their favorites. Another time this same couple decided to be pranksters; they visited their friend’s houses and turned as many things upside down as they could before getting caught.
Once caught they abruptly left and moved on to another friend’s home. Childish? Maybe. Hilarious? Absolutely, so much so that their friends took a page out of this couple's book and would get them back on occasion. So, if for you it’s pranking other friends, failing at Zumba, doing karaoke poorly or attempting something new altogether, just remember not to take yourselves too seriously.
Find reasons to laugh together.
Great and memorable date nights ultimately boil down to intentionality; putting your partner first, listening to them and hearing their hearts. Love and relationships are an incredible gift and if done well we can have a lifetime of fun with our spouses.
A beautiful relationship honors God, so let’s pick a date night from this list and enjoy the company of our partners. Have fun!
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