Written by Megan.
At almost two years of marriage, we are still dating each other. Yes, we see each other every day, but there is something different about leaving our normal routines and environment. We get to sit down somewhere to completely focus on each other. Our goal is to have at least one date a week. Even if it is just to grab coffee and desserts from one of our favorite downtown spots.
When we are home we usually have other things that come up, like making dinner, working out, or finishing up work from the day. If we make the time to have a date with the intention of just talking about the world and our thoughts, we both feel inspired and it strengthens our relationship. We disconnect from the digital world and connect through conversation. These have been the moments in which I have shared with my husband some of my most personal thoughts and feelings.
This is a time I feel good, mentally and physically. My usual home attire of no makeup and athleisure gets a break. I don’t typically dress up fancy for any other reasons than to either attend an event or go on a special date with my husband. For these dates, I get dolled up, pull out my evening attire, and throw on some heels that have collected dust in my closet. I feel proud to be by my husband’s side.
Here are some ways to make this work:
1. Put it in your schedule
Prioritize these dates just like any other important event. Just like you would schedule an appointment at work, schedule an appointment with your partner. Literally, put it in your schedule. Guy and I share personal calendars for this reason. Find a time that works for both of you and create a short list of locations that you can agree on. (In Portland, one of our favorite spots to grab drinks and dessert is Nel Centro. It's in a perfect location for us downtown and their outdoor lounge is lovely in the summer.) If time is an issue, consider a shorter date, like grabbing a coffee instead of dinner.
2. Don't let cost hold you back
Here are a few ideas for affordable dates (we really use these when we are saving for something special):
Go on a walk or hike together.
Have a picnic.
Make a special meal at home, but turn off the devices.
If in Portland, take a trip to the Rose Garden.
Go to a museum or the historical society.
Go to a farmer's market.
Find a free show. Portland Parks has a great selection of movies in the park and free neighborhood shows during the summertime.
Have a game night. We seriously have had some of our best nights around a game of dominos or Scrabble.
Go on a run together. (This is one of my favorite things to do, but I can't say we can talk much while running).
Go stargazing, watch the sunset, or the sunrise (I know, optimistic for you night owls).
Volunteer together. We don't do this option enough, but in the past, we have volunteered to help remove invasive ivy from some of our local parks and plant new plants. This is such a fun option and rewarding at the same time!
Have a movie night.
Go antiquing. Just writing this one down made me feel a little mature, but this is certainly one of our top choices. We do this a lot! We have even started paying close attention to the major sale days. We like to go to Goodwill, Garage Sale Warehouse, Lizard Lounge, and Union Gospel Mission Thrift Store (50% off everything first Saturdays).
3. Be present
I can't tell you how many times I have picked up my phone for a second and then I was completely lost. As a visual person, once my eye is focused it is as if all other senses fade. I have difficulty listening if I am intently looking at something. I can get so distracted sometimes that I have to make diligent effort to allow myself to be present. This is especially a problem if I decide to bring my camera along. Then, our date becomes a date with three. Guy has gotten used to my photo-taking antics, so we have been able to negotiate these things. We agree and specify when I will be taking photos. This has worked well for us. I, too, don't want to feel too connected to my camera and not connected enough to my husband. That's not good at all. So, be present. Be aware of how you are making your partner feel on your date. Make that time your time together.
4. learn through conversation
One of the most common questions I ask Guy is, "What are your thoughts on that?" or "what are you thinking?" The everyday questions like, "what do you want for dinner, honey?" or "how was your day?" are not enough. That is why during these dates make an effort to ask what your partner is thinking. This is an opportunity to learn more about each other. It would be a disservice to each other to believe that you have the same minds you have always had. We all change perspectives and this is a positive sign of growth. This is also a time to discuss complex concepts and ideas--not the personal matters of other people. Or as Eleanor Roosevelt said, "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." Our conversations are guided by these principles and we strive to encourage each other to build great minds. If asking questions is difficult for you, consider some discussion questions. As a teacher, I can attest to the beauty and learning that can come from asking well-thought questions. Here are some to get you started:
What is the last thing you heard/saw that made you laugh?
If we won the lottery, what is the first thing you would buy?
What is something you miss about being a kid, besides paying bills?
What is your favorite thing that I do for you?
What makes you feel appreciated?
What is an embarrassing moment that I don't already know about?
What did you want to be when you were little?
If you could be anyone for a week, who would it be?
What family traditions do you wish were still alive?
How do you picture your life in 5 years?
When was the last time someone showed you kindness?
How do you think our relationship has changed over time?
When do you feel most like your real self?
What is the next thing you want to learn?
Is there something you would like to change about yourself?
What do you think are our strengths and weaknesses as a couple?
When you are stressed, what is the best way for me to be there for you?
What do you like about yourself?
Take the Life Values Inventory and discuss your life values.
Take the Love Languages test and discuss your love needs.
Check out my recent day date attire below. On this date, we went out and grabbed some breakfast, this is such a great way for us to get our weekend started off on the right foot.