I'm a big fan of weekly date night, setting aside a few hours of time to focus on your marriage relationship and connect while doing something outside of your normal routine together. But what about the other six nights of the week? What do you do with those? When Joe and I were dating, we made a concerted effort to see each other every night, even if it was just to cuddle on the couch while I did homework and he watched TV. The nights that we didn't get to hang out, we'd talk on the phone until one of us fell asleep.
After dinner is cleaned up, the kids are in bed and the dishes are done, what do you and your spouse do at night? Do you binge watch Netflix together or move to opposite sides of the house to do your own thing? Or do you look for ways to connect and have fun together? I'm all for relaxing on the couch together or getting some "me time" in, but I also think that the hours between dinner/the kids' bedtime and your own bedtime are a great opportunity for what I like to refer to as "mini dates". I've made it my goal to find one or two nights each week to set aside my projects and other responsibilities and use that time to connect with my husband instead.
But the question is, what do we do that's going to be fun and encourage connection?! We were watching Parks and Rec this week and April asked Andy, "What are we going to do tonight?" He lists off a bunch of crazy things and she responds, "We do that every night...." Andy's thought is that "Repetition is the key to a successful marriage." April suggest that they "do something weird" and they spend the night crossing things off of their bucket list like making the world's best grilled cheese and hold $1000 in cash. I want to encourage you to do something "weird" a couple of nights a week, something out of the ordinary when compared to your regular weeknight routine.
Connect as a Couple After the Kids Are in Bed
Talk and Eat Dessert
Who doesn't love dessert at the end of the day? My kids get their treat as soon as they finish eating their dinner but I save mine for later, after they're in bed. And I love making something special for just the two of us. These skillet cookies will always be our favorite and I'll always suggest them as a great date night dessert. I also love those single serve pies and desserts in the freezer section of the grocery store or the brownies in a mug type mixes you can get in the baking aisle. Quick, easy and a little more special than a piece of leftover Halloween candy.
Dance in the Kitchen
Any time I ask Joe, "what do you want to do tonight?", his response is usually, "Dance." Which is ironic, because he doesn't like to dance.... Camille from Friday We're in Love posted the best list of Cute Love Songs You Can Dance To the other day and ever since, all I've wanted to do is put them all onto a playlist on my phone and dance with my husband. Instead of spending 20 minutes watching an episode of a show, turn on some music and dance together instead.
Play Board Games
We have a cupboard in our basement filled with board games that are in practically perfect condition because they never get used. It's just not the first thing that we think of when trying to decide what to do for the night, but I'm determined to change that! Like, is it weird that one of my bucket list dates for an at home night this year is to play Monopoly, all the way through. Click here for a good list of 40 two-player games!
Work on a Project
Four years ago when we bought our house, we spent weeks doing demo work, clean up and projects before we moved in. Every night after work, we'd grab dinner and then run over to our house to get another task crossed off of our list. It was exhausting and not always the most fun, but really satisfying. We enjoyed listening to 90's pop music, working on our individual tasks for the night and then stepping back to see what all we had gotten accomplished. We still have little projects to work on, and have enjoyed dreaming up decor and making our house more of a home with every little detail.
Your projects don't have to be home projects, they can be anything. But it's really fun to work together to accomplish a task, even if it's not the most glamorous thing in the world.
Learn Something New
Have you ever taken a community course together? Or researched something on YouTube? Communities have a wide variety of classes that they offer each semester, and you can spend a few weeks learning something new for a small fee. I've seen everything from learning a language to learning to dance to learning how to garden. You can also find tutorials and courses online for free or relatively cheap on every subject you can think of. What is something you've always wanted to learn to do? Are you planning on travelling abroad and want to learn the language before you go? Maybe you'd like to grow your own fruit and vegetables this year but need some guidance on where to start.
If you sign up for a class together, you'll have the satisfaction of learning something new, you'll be able to work together to grasp concepts and do your homework assignments, and you'll maybe discover a new lifelong hobby that you can enjoy as a couple.
Read a Book Together
I set a goal this year to read three books each month; one fiction, one marriage non-fiction, and one family non-fiction. I also want to ready one book a quarter together as a couple. We've loved listening to the Harry Potter books on audio together and have a few parenting and finance books in a pile that we want to read together. Maybe you set aside one night a week to curl up together and read a few chapters from a book together, listen to something on audio or even read your own individual books. You could create your own little book club, just the two of you.
Joe and I used to walk the dog together every single night, around 10pm. Now that we have kids, we can't go out late every night, so we started enjoying our Rooftop Rendezvous instead. Whatever you do together as a couple, make sure that it's something you'll both enjoy and that you benefit from as a couple. You can still relax together and connect without turning the TV on every single night. I would challenge you to find ways to get to know each other better and strengthen your relationship on a daily basis.
What other activities do you enjoy for connection as a couple? Share them in the comments below!
Photography by Sadie Banks Photography