I don’t know about you but I hated dating. The awkwardness, the getting ready, the having to make sure it was “perfect”, the frogs more often than not, the discomfort of it ending when it didn’t work out (especially when one of you didn’t get the message) either by your hand or his usually created a feeling of dread for me. At 28 years old, I was ready to retire from the world of dating.
However I LOVED going on dates. The experiences, the company (most of the time), the newness, the fun and specialness of it all usually meant a rush of some kind for me. That feeling does not have to end and even better since you already love your spouse the clumsy, messy part of dating doesn’t have to get involved. It’s kind of like the best of both worlds and one where you know you will want more than perhaps just a kiss goodnight at the end.
I will say that while keeping the newness and specialness and excitement of dating your spouse can be work, it can also be a lot of fun for both of you. As I suggested in my last post, Date Night with My Husband…Very Important To Do, both of you creating an individual list of things you want to do with or include your spouse in on and then blending the list in to one you can both agree on is a great place to start.
It does have to be something you can both agree on. For example, my husband loves to go target shooting. And as the daughter of a gun collector, former Army Captain and born in the rural of North Carolina, there was no way that I would not have grown up being educated in not only the importance of gun safety but DEFINITELY how to use them and use them well. I am sure my father looked down from heaven and smiled with pride when the one time I did target shoot with my husband, I creamed in him in accuracy. (OK so I am a little proud of that one too.) However, it is not something that I really enjoy. I am not by any means a gun enthusiast and going shooting is not a fun sounding date to me. So target shooting may have been on his list but it didn’t end up on ours. And I am sure getting a mani-pedi would be one he would have objected to had I put it on my list.
As you make your list here are some ideas to spark ideas of your own or that you are welcome to steal for your own Date List:
Simple and Sweet and Not Expensive
- Explore Your Neighborhood: This one is especially nice if you have recently moved or if you have never done so in your current neighborhood. You can either walk it or drive it. Either is fun. I suggest making a cup of tea or coffee for each of you or go get one and just start exploring. If you walk, you are getting the added benefit of exercise. If you drive, then you can explore more. A fun perk about this simple date night is you can see other things that you may want to do on another date night. For example, in our area we took a drive up a street neither of us had been and discovered a really cook path we have talked about hiking. On a walk into the old town area of where we live, we discovered this small hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant we had never seen driving by and have added it to the list of places we want to try as a date.
- Take A Scenic Stroll: Okay this is similar to the above but you can expand beyond the immediate area of your neighborhood. For example, not too far from where we live, a few cities over, there is this amazing scenic walk through old town and in to the hills of Claremont. Driving there feels more date like and when combined with strolling hand in hand, it can be very romantic.
- Watch the Sunset: Watching the sunset can be romantic and an awesome date, regardless of where you are. Combine it with silly pictures and selfies of the two of you and you will have a night to remember.
- Plan a Picnic: There are so many local parks here that depending on what kind of atmosphere you are looking for, you can choose from almost any type of atmosphere you can imagine. I have to admit, we have amazing vistas from a grove surrounded by a wooded area, to lake side, to beach and cliff side. But regardless of where, the idea is to pack a picnic basket either with a meal or some fun munchies – make sure to include wine – and just sit, eat and enjoy each other’s company. I find it peaceful and romantic to just the two of us lay down on the blanket staring up at the sky and either cloud or star gaze.
- Start Over: One of you ask the other out in a cute way similar to when you first started dating. So my husband has the distinction of asking me out on a post-it…yep a post-it. (He proposed in a Park-n-Ride…boy I am lucky…actually both were quite romantic and I will share someday.) So, in our case, if he were to slip me a post-it that said, “Coffee tonight?”, I would find that very romantic. Then go on the date like it was your first. Since most people start with something like, “Do you want to get a coffee or a drink sometime?” it usually can mean an inexpensive date but it is also a lot of fun!
- Become a Tourist: Don’t be afraid to ask AAA for some ideas of local tourist attractions that might be fun as a date. We had a blast at the Hollywood sign and have enjoy tons of theme parks and fun dates that all are touristy things that most people forget about since they live there.
Take It Old School
- Dinner and/or a Movie: There is nothing wrong with the classics. Dinner out to your favorite restaurant or catching a movie or put them together.
- Dinner In: One of my favorite dates with my husband was actually a formal dinner in. I cooked a fun dinner with courses (you can always bring in food too) and we got dressed to the nines in a full formal gown and suit and tie and enjoyed dinner in. You might need a babysitter to take your kids but it’s worth the cost. You might find you don’t even make it to dessert.
- Movie In: Although not necessarily elaborate, one of my favorite dates, assuming my husband stays awake, is still renting a movie, popping some popcorn, getting a huge glass of soda to share and curling up on the couch under a blanket, just the two of us, watching a movie in the dark.
Go Down Memory Lane
- Visit Your Childhood: It may seem silly but it is also a part of who you are. Think about going back to some of your old haunts when you were a kid. My husband is a major fan of a taco joint called Taco-lita that he has been going to since his high school days. For my birthday we went to a Church’s Chicken here locally in So. Cal., which was reminiscent of the days my dad would take me after he finished work and had just some one on one time. Not only are both great memories for us but now they can blend with new memories that we have made.
- Relive Your Early Days: One of the best things I remember about the night my husband asked me to marry him, okay besides the fact that it was in a park in ride, he took me on a trip down memory lane and ended the evening with a dinner at Duke’s in Huntington Beach, which was our first date. We have since done other similar dates like going to another restaurant on our anniversary where our friendship started. We have also done other date nights that reflect the dates we went on, well, when we were “dating”. I know I have a surf adventure in mind for the future since he was the first person who actually followed through on saying they would teach me to surf. So go on and relive your early days.
Turn Exercise in to Date Time
- Hit Something: Okay, what I mean is hit the gym, hit the trails, hit the courts but find something you both enjoy and multi-task for your date. It is actually more fun than you think. My husband and I have taken bike rides and long hikes at Puddingstone and even hit the gym. As silly as it sounds, it gives us an opportunity to be together – alone – and still meet another priority we have…staying fit.
- Try Out Some New Moves: I love to dance. I mean I really love to dance. My husband lacks rhythm but boy can we fake it together. One of our future dates is going to be dance lessons – whether that is in an actual studio or a DVD lesson, the future will decide that one. So if you both agree, find a ballroom class, Latin class or hit a Country Bar as they will be more than happy to teach you the latest in country line dancing. Regardless of the style, you will have fun and who knows you might have some new moves to show off to friends.
- Take It To the Rink: Although I ended up on my backside once, okay every time I have dawned skates, be it ice or roller, ice skating and roller skating is an awesome date night. Trust me, you will spend a whole lot of time in each other’s arms and you will have fun in the process.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
- Try Something New: Trying something new can be intimidating but it can also be a great bonding experience. Recently my husband and I tried a Segway Tour. Neither of us had done it before but it was awesome and we enjoyed doing it together. Perhaps a cooking class or horseback riding. Maybe a couple’s massage? Check out a drag race or Nascar event? Snorkling or Scuba Diving? Camping? Go to Tea together?
- Learn Some Lessons: If one of you is good at something, then make a date out of teaching the other. I already mentioned that my husband took a day to teach me to surf. I made it on my knees and rode the board in but more importantly we both had fun. Also, my husband loves golf, so he took me to the driving range. My ball never did go very far but it sure was a comedy routine watching me try to hit the sucker.
- Rise to New Heights: On a windy day, fly a kite together. Or if there is a local little airport, go watch the planes come in over a bottle of wine, strawberries and cheese.
- Check out Your Local City Website: See what they are planning. Our home city and the immediate surrounding cities are always doing something from a Holiday Stroll to Western Days to Historic Walks to 5Ks to Dog Parades and so much more. Not only are you supporting your local city but you would be surprised how fun and affordable they can be.
- Check out your local Zoo: I know not every city has this but, if you do, zoos, animal parks, aquariums, and the like provide a fun little adventure filled with a little nostalgia built in.
Get Some Culture
- Go to an Art Museum: I happen to love art, in fact I was an Art History minor. There are a lot of art museums around our area within a 30 minute drive from classical art, prehistoric visual culture, modern, postmodern, contemporary, cultural, and more. A lot of them even offer discounted or free open to public days or have minimal costs to go. What’s fun about this is you can see what you both like, what you both don’t like, where you agree and believe it or not, it prompts interesting discussions and can give you insight into each other’s sense of style.
- Stop and Smell the Roses: In our little area of Southern California, I can easily think of two public gardens to go see – LA Arboretum and Descanso Gardens. I know most major cities has something similar or a naturalist museum.
- Take in a Concert or Play or Show: Musicals, performances, shows are not limited to Broadway. I know of several playhouses that host concerts of all kinds, plays, ballets, musicals, rock shows and so much more. Look to local community colleges and universities as well as city playhouses. Some even include dinner and a show. My husband and I have enjoyed a variety of shows ranging from every end of the world of performance arts. Plus, more modern groups tour with county and state fairs and concert series happen all the time. I know we are looking forward to the next time Lifehouse performs locally.
- Check Out Your City’s History. Not every city may be Boston or Washington, DC filled with historical and cultural landmarks on a grand scale like the White House, the site of the Boston Tea Party and more. BUT every city has history. You would be surprised how much there is and how fascinating it is to know about your town. Plus, again, a self-guided historic tour is pretty inexpensive. A lot of cities even have historic museums. Contact your local historical society.
Plan a Getaway
As I said before this really isn’t a single date night but I am a firm believer that couples need their alone time, even if kids are present in a marriage. If money is tight, think about roughing it and going camping. Or perhaps borrow a place from someone to save money. In the past, to conserve funds, we have gone up to our local mountains and been fortunate enough to stay at my aunt and uncle’s cabin at no cost. If you can splurge a little think about doing a weekend getaway to a near by tourist town. For us, San Diego has been a great weekend getaway. And if you can, try to give yourself a true treat every now and then by splurging on a mini vacation for you and your spouse. (That’s why Europe or Hawaii make the list).
These are just examples of dates you might want to try but there are so many more and so many different ideas that you could do. The idea is to have fun, and BE TOGETHER and in that moment. Embrace it and enjoy each other. See you next post! Happy dating.