When we think of "traditional dates", what is the first thing we think of? Dinner and a movie, Dinner and drinks, a coffee or lunch date, perhaps?
Many couples struggle with feeling bored with the same old thing, and often feel discouraged at the lack of planning they put into the "same old" date nights, even though they truly do enjoy doing any of these things that we tend to consider "traditional" dates.
So, here are some small ways you can "spice up" your traditional date nights!
Instead of going to one movie, make it a movie marathon for the whole day! Take turns picking your favorite movies in the theater, planning out the schedule over breakfast (maybe at your favorite breakfast joint). This takes planning and good timing to look at the different movies playing in different locations at different times, so be prepared to put your heads together! Take a break between movies for lunch and dinner at your favorite restaurants, and discuss the movies that you just watched. This will help keep the conversation flowing, and will keep the conversations from gravitating to (gasp!): The kids and Work (see below). If finances keep you from going to several movies in one day, do your movie marathon at home and take turns making meals or snacks. Or, better yet, cook them together in between shows.
Do dinner and drinks, or dinner and a movie, and make a rule beforehand that there are two OFF LIMIT topics: 1. Work, and 2. The kid(s). This might not seem like a difficult thing to do, but many times couple's get so work and child-focused, they don't realize that the majority of their conversations revolve around "functional" discussions about these two topics. If you struggle with conversation topics, download the app "Questions For Couples", "The Five Love Languages Quiz", or
Use creative apps like "It's Date Night", "Date Night", "Funspotter", or "Date Night! Idea Generator for Romance" (just to name a few). These might not have amazing date night ideas, but might be able to help you put a fresh spin on an old idea.
Re-create your first date. Yes... that's correct! Re-create your first date, from start to finish. Try to remember the conversations you had, where you went (or something as close to it as you can manage, if that place is no longer in business or is too far away). Did you meet there? Or did your now-spouse or committed partner pick you up? Recreate it! Try to recreate it down to the most minute details and see what fun you can have remembering the details of your first date. Then, after the date, talk about how you were thinking and feeling after your first date. Sometimes, it can be reconnecting to remember the emotional state and feelings you had when you first met.
Take turns planning each date, or alternate planning duties. Many couples in counseling talk about how they either don't go on dates often enough, or how they stop dating because one person feels the burden of responsibility for doing all of the planning and execution that a date night involves. Remember... planning the date means that you plan it from start to finish, including making arrangements for child care, picking up the babysitter (if needed), making reservations, etc. And don't wait until the last minute! It shows investment in the relationship when you plan ahead and shows your spouse that you are a priority. Taking turns planning also helps even out the responsibility where both people take ownership of planning, but also balancing different activities so each person gets a voice in what you do together.
This is just a starting place for using traditional dates, but with a creative spin on them. And don't forget to check out good dating books. One that I like assigning to couples is "101 Nights of Grrreat Romance" by Laura Corn.
Joleen Watson, MS, LMFTA, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling,couples counseling, and individual counseling. Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.