10 Fun Date Ideas + How We Keep Our Marriage Strong
Since Valentines Day is around the corner, I think it's the perfect time to talk marriage or just 'ships in general. Stephen and I were just talking about how just about every couple we know (besides family) that was together when we got married 10 years ago is now divorced or broken up. It's devastating when things don't work out or friendships fall apart. I don't want to pretend like I have all the answers because I know it's hard and extremely complicated at times. But I do think there's a lot that we were lucky to learn early on that has saved us so much hardship.
So whether you're in a relationship now and things are good or things are rocky, I wanted to share a few nuggets that have been HUGE for us in staying strong. And I for one am SO glad that someone took the time to share them with me.
If you're not in a relationship, you can always just store these for later and just use these tips with friends because they work just as well!
1. Be Big Kids Together
Every Friday for the last 3-4 years, Stephen and I have been doing fun and playful date nights at home. I talk a more about how we do this here: (Have A Date Night In) and here: (10 Ideas for a Date Night In).
With all of the stress we have throughout the work week, why not make things fun? After all, this is the person you should trust most in the world so don't be afraid to be silly. We make a point to get creative and do out of the box dates every week where we can laugh and be big kids together.
Here are some random date night in ideas we've tried...
Go Retro - Pick your favorite era and dress the part with full hair and makeup. Play music or watch a movie from that time period. Maybe learn a dance on Youtube that was popular. We've done a date from almost every decade and our favorites were the 20s, 40s, & 50s.
Horrible Movie Date - This one is for when there are NO good movies out and you're both in a movie mood. Pick two notably horrible movies to make fun of the entire time you watch. Then decide which is the least worst. Anything from bad superheroes to 80s flicks to Twilight. I'm sure you can find plenty of options to critique.
Food Tasting - Pretend you're food critics for the night and gather up a group of things you love and score them. We've done chocolate tasting, craft beer tasting, and donut tasting. Cupcakes or wine would be good too. It's a fun way to find new favorites and you get to pig out without feeling guilty! Haha.
Fight Club - I know rule #1 is I'm not supposed to talk about it, but have a fight night! Put a mattress or a bunch of cushions on the floor and practice some crouching tiger moves on each other. We had a blast with trying hapkido and I actually learned a ton of self-defense moves at the same time. Win-win.
Photoshop Date - So you might need a tiny bit of experience with this one but it can be so fun to get creative and make a photomanipulation of you both. Basically you can take photos of each other and then photoshop yourself into a scene or give each other crazy makeovers in Photoshop. I've turned Stephen into a Picasso painting, a superhero, and an assassin. He's turned me into a cyborg and a x-men character. The nerdier the better!
Song & Story Date - If you want something more chill, light a fire, plug in a speaker and open up Spotify. The rules are you have to take turns finding a great song and while it's playing you have to share a story or memory about it. Songs are powerful! It's really fun to think back to where you were or what you were thinking when you liked a certain song.
Youtube Lesson - What have you both always wanted to learn? Go on a scavenger hunt and find a skill the two of you could be taught in 15-20 minutes and then challenge each other to a contest of who can do it best. We learned how to make someone else feel like they're falling through the floor, and how to do some cutting shapes shuffle dances (Stephen was better at both). The sky is the limit.
Culture Date - Immerse yourself in a totally different culture for the night. Make Sangrias and learn a Spanish dance. Eat Challah bread and watch Fiddler on the Roof. Wear togas and have a Greek night. There are so many different cultures even within our own city that we rarely experience because we live in our own little bubble.
Favorite Things - If you've ever seen Oprah's 'favorite things' show, you'll recognize this idea. Think of all of your favorite things (colors, food, drinks, gifts, activities) or all of your spouse's favorites and indulge in a long list of them throughout the night. Each one should be a fun reveal.
Olympics Date - In honor of the winter olympics going on right now, it's only natural that you join in. Choose three challenges you must compete against each other to see who is the true champion. Watch the olympics and each choose your competitor to support. Or just eat festive food in honor of the games like onion rings formed into the logo. You can decide how committed you are.
Above all, have fun with it! Taking yourself too seriously ruins the fun and closeness.
2. Fight Clean
Some words you can never take back. And as a spouse, you truly do know what to say to hit the other where it hurts. But make it a rule to never use your words as weapons. No name calling. Don't accuse, blame or use the words, "you never" or "you always." Don't bring up the past. Don't hang up on each other or say shut up. If you feel so mad that you want to hurl words back, don't say anything. Wait until you're both calm, then say how you feel.
3. Proactive Not Reactive
You would not believe how many times this little tip has made a big difference in my day. Just because someone else is grumpy, it doesn't mean you have to be. I think it's safe to say that some of us have *ahem* moodier spouses than others, haha. But even if you're both pretty chill, when you live with someone you get to see all of their bad moments.
There is an art to not reacting and taking it personally when someone else is grumpy or critical. Man is it hard though! A good practice is to stop, remember what is actually true about you and then just let them be. Usually with some food, rest, or a simple proactive solution, bad moods will pass.
4. Make Up Quickly
Life is so short. You never know what may come or when you'll need to have each other's back. So don't let petty disagreements separate you. If you said or did something awful, humble yourself and say you're sorry. Even if they said or did something worse. It feels so much better to own up to your part and just deal with the issue. Don't go to bed mad. Don't do that awkward "I'm talking to you but not really talking to you" dance.
Even if you feel like you have a right to be mad, staying angry only really punishes you in the end. Forgive each other quickly. Make up quickly. And once you've had a chance to talk things out, let them go for good.
5. Be Thankful for the Good
Your person rocks. They are awesome at a ton of stuff. Maybe they do nice things for you or say nice things to you. Maybe they take care of you in little ways. Maybe they stick up for you. Maybe they support you in your work. Maybe they always take out the trash. Remind yourself often of the good things. Stay in that mindset instead of listing all the ways they don't do what you want them to. Maybe what you want just doesn't come naturally to them. That's okay.
Also, remind them of the good too! Say thank you for everything, even the little things, even the expected, routine things. Let them know you appreciate their effort in those areas and you'll be surprised how much that effort increases in other areas too.
Have a happy Valentines Day!