Date Your Mate
February 1, 2020 | by jamie beeson
The other night, my husband and I were sitting in a restaurant, and the server came to our table and said, "Here again, where are your kids?" I had a little giggle and shared that we hadn't sold them or traded them in for fancier models, and though we deeply love them, my husband and I plan a date night once a week and rarely miss. So yes, you may find us “out on the town” without our four children in tow again and again. I put out on the town in quotes because, at this stage of the game, date night now doesn’t quite resemble date night then; we want and need different things. An early dinner where you get in on the Happy Hour specials, driving and talking, walking in a new neighborhood, and then getting into bed right after the kids sounds fantastic these days! I still love our date nights, no matter how they come. Our “happily ever after” is still happening largely due to the commitment we've made to date our mate.
Please don't read this and be fooled into thinking that our marriage must be perfect or that we have some magic that allows us to be still living our happily ever after. It has come with its fair share of fights and learning to fight fair. It has come with many hardships, stressors pulling us in different directions, and even seasons where it seemed we lived on two separate pages of our fairytale story. Date nights are almost like hitting a reverse button, taking us back to why we fell in love. They reset, shake off, and set aside the things that try to stand in the way of our love growing day by day.
I was visiting with a coworker last night, and we were discussing holding doors open for people. She said that her husband "used to hold doors open for me, but now that we're married, he doesn't anymore." The things that won us over and the things that made them swoon are the things that go out the door after the ring is on the finger. But why? We wouldn’t expect a plant to live in our house after buying it, bringing it home, and calling it our own. We’d expect to water it and give it the nutrients and sunlight it needs to thrive. We don’t have babies and hope they can survive just by us living in the same house with them. That’s absurd. No, we tend to them, pay attention to their needs, give them love in many ways, and nurture their little life. A marriage has similarities to plant-growing and child-rearing…and no, it's not that plants like dirt or that our spouse acts like a child. Those aren’t the similarities I’m referring to.
Come on, stay with me.
So, what would happen if we made a recommitment to date our mate? What would we do? Where would we go? But we don't have much time or money to be spending on date nights. No problem! Creative date nights have been crucial! It’s not about how much money you spend or how fancy it is. It’s about the time, attention, reconnection; the little things like holding the doors and holding hands. That can be done in a fancy restaurant, while sitting in a car, or going for a walk.
If you haven’t been on a date in months or years, then maybe start with once per month. Start small and stay simple. The fire will grow, and it will expose the power of what carved out time can do for your love story. Here are a few very simple, creative date nights we use and reuse.
1. Library Love
Go to the library. Find books in your hobby or interest areas. Meet in a cozy corner, sit close, grab a coffee, and read about the things that make you happy. Be sure to pause, share what you’re finding and learning, and steal a glance at their cuteness.
2. Backward Dinner Date
Start with dessert first! Share your favorite dessert. No one ever has room for dessert, or you force it and leave feeling too full and uncomfortable. So start with dessert, move on to the main dish to share, and end with an appetizer! Why not? Be crazy.
3. New Neighborhood Dreaming
Drive to a neighborhood that you love. Maybe one you dream of owning a home in, or to get inspired by the landscaping. Park your car and walk the neighborhood like you live there. Find things you like about the houses, yards, and area and share. It's good to dream, and it's great to dream together.
4. Coloring Contest
Go to a bookstore or a department store. Find a coloring book and buy a set of markers. Sit in the coffee shop area of the store and give yourself a set amount of time to color a page. When the timer goes off, snap pics, post them on social media, and let the world vote on who colors best. The loser owes a back massage.
5. $10 Shopping Spree
Go to a store and split up on a mission. You have $10 to spend on things that would make your spouse… Fill in the blank. Maybe one time you spend money on something that would make your spouse laugh. Perhaps another time you spend money on something that would make your spouse feel loved. You pick the mission and the amount. The thoughtfulness can fill love tanks.
6. Driveway Movie Theater
Get a Redbox movie and some candy from the gas station. Grab a blanket and pillow from home. Park your car in the driveway, put the movie in the player, and watch it in your driveway. Cheaper for sure, faster sometimes too, definitely a more intimate setting.
Originally printed in the February 2020 issue of Simply Local Magazine
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