Let me be clear dinner isn’t exactly the problem. The problem with date nights is it often doesn’t align with your values as a couple. Before your next date night I would like you to try this tiny exercise.
Ask your spouse or significant other what activities would make them feel happy or what their top highlights in the last year have been. Then ask them about their future goals. Here’s some of my examples:
Happiest Moments (that don’t involve my kids or an airplane)
- Sitting at a coffee shop reading a book
- Walking around the lake
- Playing tennis
- Biking to work
- Chatting with friends or husband while drinking wine
- Watching hockey (live only, tv sports are lame)
- Wandering around Fontanelle Forest or anytime outside
- Get in shape
- Read more books
- Socialize with friends more
- Learn a new skill such as sewing, fancy cooking or crocheting
- Relearn Spanish
- Retire Early
No where on my list does it say, cram down a 10-ounce steak and then watch a movie. For some reason when we were first married we felt compelled to go to a nice restaurant and then a movie. In our minds, this was “date night.” I fully contributed to this warped sense of a “good time.” The funny thing is it doesn’t meet any of my goals nor does it make me happier. Also, staying up too late makes me crabby the next day. There have been $130 nights that were borderline dull. I’m to the point now where spending $130 on a night out needs to be extraordinary. Plus, the extra $40 for babysitting.
Our last date day consisted of a 17-mile round trip bike ride to Pint 9 Brewery and then a Runza picnic at a park on our way home. We did a flight of 4 different fancy beers, my favorite was the coffee flavored. On our way home we realized we actually did need to eat dinner, so we grabbed a Runza and sat at a park. We spent $23 and it was fantastic. Nothing puts you in a better mood than getting your heart rate up while outside in the fresh air. Multiple goals were met in one outing which increases my relationship satisfaction and overall happiness levels.