Tired of the old dinner-and-a-movie routine, but not sure what else to do on your date nights? Try these eight ideas to get your creative juices flowing!
1. Take in a local show or concert. Your town is probably teeming with gifted and creative performers at the local high school or college. So check to see what's playing. It's less expensive than the "professional" versions and often just as fun. At the end of the evening, share your favorite moments of the performance. Then "go back in time" to your own high school or college days and reminiscence together about your favorite school event or memory and why it was so special. Or see if you can guess some of the clubs or activities your spouse was involved in.
2. Read a book of short stories out loud to each other. Try different voices for the characters even! You can pick up a book at the library (so it's a free date!), go to a park, a coffee shop, or even just hang out at home. Each of you gets a chance to read. Then talk about what you liked about the story or what you didn't like. Was the writing strong? Did the words flow smoothly? Did the dialogue seem realistic? Which character in the story would you like to be or not be? Why? Then take a turn at rewriting the story and tell each other how you would have changed it.
3. If you have children, ask them to plan your date! Earlier in the week, ask your kids (or friends, if you don't have children) to think of something fun for you and your spouse to do. They get to choose the restaurant and the activity. Then after your date, you and your spouse can give a "report" back telling about the funnest, funniest, or most special part of the evening.
4. Make it a three-course progressive dinner. Rather than going out to eat at one restaurant (how boring!), choose one restaurant for your appetizer, a different one for your main dish, then a third one for dessert. Share one course each if you're low on cash. If you have trouble deciding which restaurants, write down several options for each course, put them in a hat, and pick. As you drive to each, discuss the type of restaurant you would open and what types of each course you'd choose to serve and why.
5. Give an encore performance! Think back to one of your favorite dates or activities you two had before you were married, but that you don't get to do anymore. Was it to go antiquing? Book shop hopping? Hiking? Playing board games? Decide to do it again. While you're on the date, talk about why the date or activity was so special and what it meant to you. What did you discover about your spouse during that time that attracted you? Tell your spouse!
6. House swap. Want a weekend or overnight retreat, but can't afford the cost of the travel or hotel? Why not swap houses with a friend or family member (maybe they can watch your kids too!)? Then you can relax and enjoy a different setting. Make sure to bring snacks, movies or games, and candles. Then just hang out together. (But make sure you both pitch in to clean up at the end of your stay!)
7. People watch. Go some place where you can watch people for a while. A park or a mall is a great place. Then grab a cup of coffee or a soda, sit, hold hands, and don't talk. Just watch people. Then after a little while, talk about what you noticed. How did the people treat one another? How did they talk to one another? Was it respectful? Joyful? Did one walk faster than the others? Then talk about what you learned about yourself through watching others: "Sometimes I get so single-focused, I can leave you behind. But I don't mean to." Or "I realized that the woman talked so harshly to her husband. I don't ever want to talk to you in that kind of tone." Don't make it a time to point the finger at what your spouse may be doing—keep it focused on what you've learned about yourself.
8. Check out the sights in your area. Throw out your map. Turn off the GPS. And just drive. Enjoy the adventure of going somewhere in your area you've never been. Talk about ways that you and your mate can incorporate more adventure into your marriage. What sometimes keeps you from doing that? What are some ways you can overcome those obstacles?
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