30 Things I’ve Learned from Being Married

I’ve been married for three years. That is not a long time. But I have grown and changed more in the past three years than in any other time period in my memory. I mean that in a good way. Being married to the best friend I’ve ever had has been a wonderful adventure.

And despite only being married for a short time, we’re fairly good at it. We have a happy life and a happy marriage and family. Earlier this month we were invited to a Family Day at my mom’s school where we talked with the students about marriage and how we handle disagreements, money, changes, hardships, etc. At the end of the day we played “The Not So Newly Wed Game” and we won. We won by a lot. We won against people who had been married longer than I have been alive. We’re pretty proud of that.

And I’m thankful to have someone like Steph by my side as I approach 30. She keeps telling me she has loved her thirties. That they have been her favorite.

We’ll see.

In all seriousness, I’ve learned a lot in the past three years. About myself, about Steph, about marriage, about life. Here are just a few of those things.

1. Nobody cares what you look like without makeup.

There’s a freedom in marriage. Someone has promised to love you as you are without exception. You can stop worrying about “looking perfect” and focus on being loving. Besides, when you’re chasing kids and a year and a half behind on sleep, flawless lipstick is the last thing anyone cares about. Put on some chap stick and go on.

2. Communication gets stronger.

You can no longer avoid things that bother you. You have to talk them through and make compromises. But the good thing is, the more you practice this the better you learn one another’s communication styles and therefore the more effective your conversations become.

3. You really don’t have to know how to cook.

I mean, I am a really good cook and I can put together really great meals, (I’m not even going to try to be modest about it) but when you have toddlers running everywhere, it’s just not worth the time, effort, or money. Peanut butter sandwiches are delicious. There are a million ways to make pasta taste yummy that don’t require much effort.

4. You don’t have to like the same things.

It’s actually really good to have separate interests to help you keep your sense of identity. Steph is very athletic and into sports. Not my thing. I like arts and crafts and whimsy things.

5. But it’s fun to share interests.

It’s also important to have some things you enjoy doing together. Steph and I like to paint together and browse book stores and try new restaurants.

6. Everyone needs a break sometimes.

But not the Ross and Rachel kind of break. Sometimes we need to rest or spend time with friends or get lost in a book. That’s okay.

7. You’re not the same person you were the day you got married.

You will change and grow and mature. And your relationship will change and grow and mature. That’s okay. Don’t try to hang on to the past. Embrace the future.

8. Our marriage is our most important relationship.

If we don’t nurture our marriage, everything becomes a disaster.

9. Dating is important.

Make time for one another without interruptions or any other people. Sit across from one another without a phone or screen and talk, laugh, and have fun together.

10. The one year old wedding cake is gross.

If I could re do anything from my wedding day, I would have eaten the top tier of the cake instead of putting it in the freezer for a year. Ugh. It was disgusting.

11. Romance changes as your love matures.

In the beginning romance is flowers and music and goo goo eyes. As time moves on, the most romantic things are cleaning the bathroom, making a relaxing playlist for your wife to have in the hospital, or watching your spouse play with and teach the kiddos.

12. Compromise is necessary.

Compromise doesn’t necessarily mean doing one thing OR the other, it means making time for BOTH preferences.

13. The purpose of the task is to strengthen the relationship.

Sometimes we all have to do things we don’t want to do. The purpose of doing those things is to strengthen your relationship. The other day I chose to stay up late and wash dishes, prepare bottles, and lay out the boys’ clothes. I didn’t want to, but it helped Steph start her morning a little more smoothly. The purpose was to make her life easier–strengthen our relationship. I hate feet. Even cute little baby feet. One day I noticed Steph was extra stressed, so I grabbed some nice lotion and massaged her feet while she graded papers. The purpose of the task was to strengthen our relationship.

Cooking dinner together, cleaning out the garage together, running errands together, grocery shopping together..it may seem like the tasks are important, but the purpose of the task is to strengthen the relationship.

14. Having a sense of humor is important.

If you can’t laugh together, then what is there to talk about?

15. You have to learn one another’s love language.

You have to. Steph’s love language is acts of service. I don’t get it, but I can show her I love her by helping her and doing things for her. The purpose of the task is to strengthen the relationship.

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16. Speaking negatively about your spouse is harmful.

Be positive and kind always. If something is bothering you, talk to you spouse. Not your mom (she will always side with you) and not your friends (they are not going to forgive your spouse).

17. Evaluating our relationship on a regular basis helps us stay on track.

The teacher in me immediately thinks of a checklist or a rubric to evaluate the relationship. Reality though is just a simple check in. How are you? Are you overwhelmed? How can I help you? What are your thoughts on [the future, our home, more kids, etc]? Your long term goals and plans will change as you grow and mature. It’s important that you keep talking about them often to make sure you are on the same page and not putting unrealistic expectations on yourself or each other.

18. Nitpicking is a waste of energy.

It doesn’t solve anything. All nitpicking does is cause fights and negative feelings.

19. Be each other’s safe space.

I believe I can tell Steph anything and it’s going to be okay. I know I am safe wherever she is.

20. It is always more important to be kind or loving than it is to be right.

Recently Steph and I experienced a miscommunication. She told me I didn’t tell her something clearly. I knew that I had and I knew that I had the text message to prove it. I even double checked. Instead of making it a big deal, I just said “Okay. You’re probably right. This is what I meant.” We fixed the problem and moved on. There was no reason to argue or gloat or make it a big thing. The important thing was that we were loving and happy. (Whatever it was, it was so unimportant that I don’t even remember what the miscommunication actually was)

21. Marriage is hard work.

Love stories make it sound like the hard work is finding someone to marry. The story always ends with a wedding and “happily ever after”. The truth is, the work doesn’t even begin until after the marriage license is signed. That’s when you have to figure out how to be loving and kind and unselfish while life is happening.

22. Having a hand to hold unconditionally is worth the hard work.

Every hard moment is worth it knowing I never have to face the trials of life alone.

23. Never go to bed angry is bad advice.

You know what? I am angered a lot more easily when I am tired. Or hungry. Or in need of a shower. Want me to be able to talk to me like I am a reasonable person? Make sure I’m comfortable. It’s like Maslow’s hierarchy. Meet the basic needs, then the emotional ones. Seriously though, most major issues turn out to be very unimportant after a good night of sleep.

24. No secrets. Ever.

Remember elementary school? Secrets don’t make friends. Secrets, secrets are no fun all they do is hurt someone. Now that we are all grown up, secrets have no place in marriage. If you have to keep it a secret, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. (Surprises are TOTALLY different from secrets, though).

25. Intimacy is important.

Make time for it. Without intimacy, you become two people who share a living space. Roommates legally bound to live together.

26. You need a vision for your marriage and family that you are both working towards.

Make sure you know what your plans and goals are for your family. What is most important and how are you working to achieve it? You have to be on the same page.

27. The most important thing you can do in marriage is keep searching for, and finding, each other.

Never stop learning about one another. Never stop asking questions or trying new things. You can never really truly know every single things about another person, but spend your whole life trying to know everything about your spouse.

28. Small acts of affection are as important as big ones.

Some even argue that they are more important. They add up. And when they aren’t present, it’s noticeable, because that adds up, too. So make eye contact when you’re talking. Hold hands in the car or while you take a walk or while you sit on the couch watching TV. compliment each other. Hold doors. Kiss.

29. Be honest when you are frustrated with “life” (work, kids, etc) before you take it out on each other.

Sometimes Steph comes home from work and says “It’s been a long day. I need a nap” and I leave her alone. Sometimes she comes home from work and I say “Hey babe, you’re on baby duty. I’m going to my office” and she leaves me alone.

30. Listen, even if you don’t want to.

If you don’t like what they say you flip them off when they turn around or in your head, and be able to laugh about it later. But in the moment, listen, reflect, and be supportive.

What have you learned in your marriage? What do you think is the best advice you could give someone who is newly married or about to get married?

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Other Posts from this Series:

30 Things I Believe

One of my favorite writing assignments when I was a traditional classroom teacher was “This I Believe” Essays. No matter the writing ability of my students, if they tried they would write a poignant and beautiful piece. It was a great way to empower them and help them love writing. It was also low pressure because it didn’t require a ton of research, it was acceptable to use lists or bullet points rather than the usual 5 paragraph structure, and it was something they wanted to write about. 

So, as part of my countdown to my thirtieth birthday, here is my This I Believe Essay: 30 Things I believe.

As a wife, I believe

1) Miscommunication is the true root of all evil.

2) Insufficient sleep leads to many misunderstandings

3) Being loving is more important than being right. (This was hard for me to learn.

4) Making time to spend together is important.

5) If your spouse isn’t your best friend, you need to reevaluate your priorities.

As a mom, I believe

6) Every child is a blessing, no matter the circumstances.


7) Coffee should be its own food group.


8) There should be special parking for toddler moms. Especially twin toddler moms.


9)There are no better sounds in the world than: hearing little feet patter across the floor while I’m working my office, my babies giggling while playing together, my babies snoring in the back seat on road trips, the sweet way my boys say “hi” when they see me in the morning.


10) Being a mom is the most wonderful, most difficult, and most important job I’ve ever had. I have never felt the weight of responsibility more than I do now. And I love it.

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As a humanitarian I believe

11) Human suffering should be addressed wherever it is found. It is unacceptable to put children in cages.

12) Building a wall is the stupidest thing ever.

13) Black lives matter

14) I am in charge of my body. No one else. I am responsible for the consequences–both good and bad–of my choices. No one else.

15) Education is important. We should fund it and pay teachers what they deserve.

As a person managing an anxiety disorder, I believe

16) Hope is stronger than fear.

17) Chocolate can make you feel better, even if only temporarily.

18) Choosing to be positive, to practice gratitude, or to work out CAN fix a bad attitude but it CANNOT cure depression or anxiety or any other mental illness. Telling someone who has a mental illness they need to choose not to be sick is just as effective and stupid as telling someone with cancer they need to choose not to be sick.

19) Disconnecting for some peace and quiet is good for the soul.

20) Self care is not selfish.

As a recovering workaholic, I believe

21) Indifference is just as important as passion.

22) You should never stress yourself out for a job that, should you die, would replace you within a week.

23) Every employee is replaceable–and so is every job.

24) It is fun to be the leader, but sometimes the best way to be a good leader is to be a good follower.

25) Having a job is fun. Working is fun. But it’s not the only fun you can–or should–have. Let everything go sometimes and do something that makes you happy. It is okay to take a mental health day sometimes.

As a dog mom, I believe

26) Dogs are the best example of love I have ever seen. No matter what, they love unconditionally.

27) Dogs are the best judge of character. If your dog tells you someone is bad, don’t question it. If dogs seem to think you are bad, evaluate yourself. You probably need to make a change.

28) If you’re having a bad day or are stressed out, hug a dog. You’ll feel better.

29) If you need to cry, hug a dog. He will let you cry into his fur and then he will lick away your tears and he will not stop until you smile again.

30) Humans really aren’t good enough for dogs. We don’t deserve them. If you need proof that there is a loving creator out there, adopt a dog. Someone had to love us an awful lot to bless us with them despite our faults.

What do you believe? Tell me in the comments!

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Television Shows for People Who Don’t Like to Watch TV.

Confession: I don’t like to watch Television. I know that makes me kind of weird, but that’s me. When I started my first teaching job, my coworkers thought it was crazy that I didn’t have cable. They enjoyed slipping movie and TV references into our conversations to confuse me. 

Steph loves watching TV. It helps her unwind. It bores me to no end. When we bought our house, she wanted to put a television in our bedroom. I did not. If I am going to watch TV, I want to be in the living room on the couch or curled up with a blanket in my chair. Often, I need something to do with my hands in order to focus on the television–like knitting, playing cards, coloring, etc. Maybe I have ADD. I don’t know, but if I want to sleep, I want to go to my bedroom and sleep. Not watch TV. Besides, I cannot figure out how to comfortably watch television from the bed. Also, it’s not like Steph watches television all that often, so I didn’t see the need to have a second TV in the house.

So we compromised. And put a television in our bedroom. 

When Steph and I met, if I watched television at all, I watched Friends or How I Met Your Mother. That’s it. I watched those two shows on repeat. 

Over the years Steph has encouraged me to forced me to branch out and try different shows.

Truthfully, I have enjoyed several of them. The other day I said, “You are so good at finding shows I actually like to watch.”

“You have no idea how hard I have to work to find something you will watch!” She was slightly exasperated.

In an effort to save some other poor soul who has a hard time getting his or her significant other or friend to watch television with them, I’m sharing a list of shows to binge watch approved by someone (me)  who doesn’t like to watch television.

Steph knows when she has found a show I enjoy because I make a rule that she is not allowed to watch it without me.

    

7 Television Shows for People who Don’t Like to Watch Television

1. Friends

Where to watch: Netflix
Average length of an episode: 22-23 minutes
Number of episodes: 236

Friends is a classic. I never watched it while it was on the air. I discovered it because of my first roommate in college. She had the seasons on DVD and enjoyed watching them on repeat, so we watched it all the time. 

It’s a funny show and the characters are lovable (my favorite character is Janice Litman). Thanks to the witty humor, you will have a collection of great catchphrases you can use in real life. A favorite of mine:

“I’m not that great at the advice. Can I interest you in a sarcastic comment?”

–Chandler Bing

My students really loved it when I used that one. 

The many, many love triangles are fun, but not overly dramatic or emotional (I am not a fan of that kind of thing). Phoebe and Monica compete for a guy in coma, Rachel and Monica literally fight over 
Jean-Claude Van Damme, and the bigget one: should Rachel have ended up with Ross or Joey? You really do have to watch from the beginning to the end to be able to create an informed opinion. (I’m Team Joey, by the way. Ross is SOOOOOOO annoying.)

2. How I Met Your Mother

Where to watch: Hulu
Average length of an episode: 22-23 minutes
Number of episodes: 208

I don’t even remember how I came to know and love HIMYM, but I do know that it is probably my all time favorite television show. It seems like the show just kind of captures the stage of life I am in really well and  puts a humorous light on it. It’s real and relatable.

I genuinely love all of the main characters, even if Ted Mosby does occasionally really get on my nerves. I have experienced a full range of emotions while watching.

The Thanksgiving episodes are probably my favorites. We will watch all of them during the week of Thanksgiving. 

A lot of famous guests make appearances on the show including Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez, Carrie Underwood, Mandy Moore, Lucy Hale, Ashley Benson, Mike Tyson, Enrique Iglesias, and many others. My favorite special guest is Britney Spears who plays Abby, a ditzy receptionist. The character is hilarious and Britney plays it well. 

Finally Marshall and Lily–Marshmallow and Lilly Pad–are the very definition of relationship goals. I love them and their dynamic. 

The downside:

I LOVE the mother. I loved the anticipation of discovering who the mother is and all the twists and turns Ted and his friends encounter on their journey to meeting her. She is PERFECT for Ted.

BUT, the series finale was really irritating. If the final episode had ended at 18:14, it would have been perfect. However, it continued for another 3 minutes and 22 seconds and, in that short amount of time, it almost ruins the whole show.

The final season is truly beautiful and poetic. I am not even ashamed to admit I cried. More than once. I recommend watching until Ted says, “And that, kids, is how I met your mother” and then turning off the television. Pretend nothing comes after that moment. You’ll thank me.

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3. Criminal Minds

Where to watch: Netflix 
Average length of an episode: about an hour
Number of episodes: 299 currently; it’s still in production.

I used to complain about how every movie or show I watched ended happily and how that’s not real life and sometimes it would be nice if that was reflected in media. 

Enter Criminal Minds. 

Sometimes the show is so intense that it keeps me awake at night. The whole plot with The Reaper is terrifying, but gave me exactly what I was looking for. They didn’t catch him right away. It took several episodes. 

The whole show is fascinating. You can learn so much about psychology and human behavior. (Yes, learning from a TV show is a plus for me. Learning makes me happy). I have researched a lot of the things I originally heard about while watching this show and learned a lot of very cool things. Because of this show, I’ve learned how to tell when people are lying to me–which is a super useful life skill. 

Sometimes I do have trouble binge watching Criminal Minds. It’s a show about how serial killers think–getting in the heads of some pretty sick people–there’s only so much of that I can handle before I’m sad and need a happy break.

4. New Girl

Where to watch: Netflix and Hulu 
Average length of an episode: about 25 minutes
Number of episodes: 146

I discovered this show while I was on maternity leave. There wasn’t a whole lot I could do besides watch TV. I was recovering from an emergency c-section and had twin infants. I didn’t get the hang of tandem feedings until they were big enough to hold their own bottles, so feeding took forever–especially since Gryffin didn’t even like to eat. It felt like when I wasn’t feeding or changing babies, I was pumping, so I couldn’t do much of anything except watch television.

Steph told me I was not allowed to watch Friends and How I Met Your Mother on repeat for 8 weeks. In my Mom-Brain-sleep-deprived state I forgot she couldn’t stop me while she was at work, so I randomly clicked on New Girl for absolutely no reason. I was immediately hooked and when I finished all of the seasons the first time (well, all available on Netflix or Hulu–series finale aired May 2018) I immediately went back to the first episode and started over.

New Girl is hilarious. I laughed until I cried more than once watching this show about a group of 30-somethings trying to figure out life, but Season 4, Episode 6 “Background Check” is by far my favorite. The first time I watched it, I started it over before moving on to Episode 7. Twice. And made Steph watch it when she got home from work. 

The characters play a game called “True American.” The actual rules are never explained, but I really want to play.

When I watched the series finale of this show I was very impressed. I have never seen a show ending done as tastefully and perfectly as New Girl. It was a fantastic way to end the show. (The writers of HIMYM could take some notes).

5. Quantico

Where to watch: Netflix
Average length of an episode: about 43 minutes
Number of episodes: 53

Quantico is my most recent favorite show. Not only are most of the main characters women, many of them are women of color, and all of them are bad ass. 

The twists and turns in the plot of this show are phenomenal. Every time I thought I had it figured out, the carpet was pulled out from under me again and I was back at square one. It is rare to find a show that does this to both Steph and me, but Quantico is it.

Unfortunately, the show has been cancelled, so the final episode of season three is now the series finale. I am heartbroken about this. I love the way this show challenges my thinking and requires that I pay attention to every single detail. 

6. The Ranch

Where to watch: Netflix
Average length of an episode: about 30ish minutes
Number of episodes: 50 so far; it’s still in production

I never imagined Ashton Kutcher and Sam Elliot could star in the same show and it turn out so good. I mean, they’re both great actors, but they are so different, and that’s what makes this show great. It captures the relationship between a parent and child who do not understand one another very well.

I didn’t expect to like the show because it’s so “redneck,” but it’s well balanced. Also, if you ever wanted to know exactly what my dad is like, look no further than Sam Elliot’s character, Beau Roosevelt Bennett. Whoever created Beau had to know Dad. There’s no other way they could have possibly gotten it so spot-on.

Several of Ashton Kutcher’s costars from That 70s Show make appearances throughout the show, which is a lot of fun. 

Don’t watch this show if you aren’t a fan of strong language. Personally, I love expletives and don’t understand how to show a truly strong, emphatic emotion without them. Curse words are to sentences what lights are to a Christmas Trees. It’s how you give it that little bit of extra.

In all seriousness, though, they drop the f-bomb a lot, so if you are truly bothered by that or don’t want your kids to hear it, don’t watch. 

7. Leverage

Where to watch: I don’t know anymore. 
Average length of an episode: 43 minutes
Number of episodes: 77

Leverage is a modern-day-Robin-Hood meets Batman story. A group of “bad guys” come together and fly under the radar to provide vigilante justice.

The characters are quirky and make the show a lot of fun. Each of them is a specialist in their “field”: a thief, a grifter, a hacker, and a hit man led by a former insurance investigator who does not have a criminal past; white knight turned dark knight. 

While watching I am often convinced there is no way they are going to pull of the hoax, but they always come through. It is a very creative and fun show. 

I almost didn’t include it in my list because you can no longer stream it on Netflix, so if you want to watch it, you have to pay for it on Prime Video or buy DVDs/BluRays. It’s worth the money, though, so I included it. I wouldn’t say that about just any show. 

Honorable Mentions

There are a few more shows that I like to watch occasionally, but don’t necessarily like to binge watch. You may like them:

  • Will and Grace–I want to be Karen when I grow up, but I can’t call this show binge-worthy. Occasionally the plot is terribly boring and Grace gets on my nerves so bad. I can’t watch more than an episode, maybe two, at a time. 
  • The Good Place–I love what I have seen of this show, but I need to see where it is headed before I can say it’s binge-worthy. It’s hilarious, though. 
  • The Golden Girls–What television list is complete without The Golden Girls? And who doesn’t love Sophia Patrillo? 
  • Grey’s Anatomy–I have a love-hate relationship with Grey’s. Sometimes I just love it and could watch it all day. Other times I find it terribly annoying and can’t stand it. Also SPOILER ALERT!!! how is there even a plot now that there is no Dr. Derek Shepherd?
What about you? What is your favorite show to binge watch? Tell me in the comments!

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Date Night Scavenger Hunt

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Why Date Night is Important

I think the most common–and probably the most valuable–marriage advice Steph and I have received is to continue to date each other even though we are married. It is so important to continue to make time for one another and to make one another feel valued and seen in the midst of life.

Life is crazy busy and it’s always going to be, but your spouse is the most important person in your life and he or she needs to be made a priority.

How Our Date Night Has Changed

Our date nights look incredibly different and happen a lot less frequently now than before our boys were born. Friends have offered date nights for us, but we just don’t like to be away from our babies. We’ve taken friends up on these offers, with varying degrees of success. On one of our not-so-successful dates some friends gave us the time and a gift card to see a movie and have dinner. We saw a movie but skipped dinner because we just missed our babies.

Instead of going out, we have more at-home dates such as ordering take out and watching a movie either when the boys have gone to sleep or while they are playing at our feet. But we rarely go on “Big Dates” now. For example, we love live theater. Love. We used to attend shows all the time. For my birthday, Steph bought us season tickets for the local theater that hosts the Broadway tours. It was a great lineup and we were very excited. And about a month later we finally–finally–got the long-awaited positive pregnancy test. We still had every intention of going to the plays and recruited my mom to watch the babies long before they were born.

We saw zero shows.

The first show was scheduled the weekend after we brought the boys home from the NICU. We hadn’t been home for a whole week yet, and leaving the boys to see a play was just not an option for either one of us. The next one we weren’t interested in, and a snow storm made the hour drive to the theater to see the next show unsafe. We completely and totally forgot about the next one. And finally, it looked like we were going to make it to the last one–which was the musical we wanted to see the most. It was summer break, my mom came to watch the babies, and we were ready.

And then there was a fire at the theater and the show was cancelled.

But we already had a baby sitter and wanted to spend time together. Actually we needed to–the month leading up to date night had been even busier and crazier than usual and we needed some time to pause and laugh together. Steph usually plans our dates, but she had just started a new position as a high school basketball coach and was getting to know her team and coaching staff and involved in practices and spent time away for a tournament, so she passed planning on to me for this one!

And that’s how my Date Night Scavenger Hunt was born.

A friend of mine believes a good date should be three phases (think dinner, movie, dessert/coffee), so that was the outline I used to plan this date. We splurged a bit of money on this date, but you can make it an inexpensive date. I will share some ideas for how to recreate this date on a stricter budget later.

Date Night Phase One: Dinner

Phase One was the quintessential nice dinner. We went to a cute restaurant nearby that neither of us had ever been to, sat across from each other and ate slowly while our food was hot and while enjoying adult conversation. (I had spent the month prior working at the summer reading camp with second graders. I needed adult conversation). It was fun to try a new place, though I think we both missed our usual spots a little bit.

Date Night Phase Two: Scavenger Hunt

After dinner, we headed to Target for our Date Night Scavenger Hunt!

Here is a disclaimer: this scavenger hunt was not easy. Steph thought it was going to be easy (and even though she would never ever admit it in a thousand years, I think she thought it was going to be lame, too). I thought it was going to be easy–especially since I wrote it. But it was not. It was HARD, man. Neither one of us finished finding all the items in the time frame we agreed on, and we were both shocked by that.

What made the challenge difficult is that it requires intentional thought about your significant other, which isn’t necessarily hard–but taking that intentional thought and associating it with something tangible that you can take back isn’t exceptionally easy.

Despite the scavenger hunt being much harder than we expected, it was SO MUCH FUN. Seriously. It required both of us to think outside the box and created a lot of giggles and “aw, that’s so sweet” moments. It was time well-spent.

After we were finished showing one another our picks, we narrowed down which items we were actually going to purchase and walked around the store together to put away the others. Putting things away was just as fun as finding them because it created fun conversation as we explained our thought processes and items that didn’t make the cut.

CLICK HERE to download a PDF of my scavenger hunt–edited and updated for use by any couple–dating, married, engaged, or just best friends!

Phase Three: Painting

We are both artsy people. Steph has always wanted to learn to paint, so we went to a local art studio and painted. We planned on hanging the finished pieces in our bedroom, but we loved how they turned out so much we wanted them to be somewhere people would see them. They are currently in the guest bedroom, but we’ve talked about putting them in the bathroom.

This was so much fun. There was some kind of random street festival/concert going on outside the studio, so we were pretty much the only people there. That made it easy for us to relax and have fun without worrying about bothering other people. We were able to support one another and learn new things together. Steph made fun of the way I painted my background because I was being way too literal. One of the best things about her is that she relaxes me. I can be so type A and can get so uptight about the dumbest things. She knows just what to do and say to reset my my perspective so that I’m able to truly enjoy myself. And that’s the whole point of a date night, right?

Need a Date Night On a Budget? No problem!

Even thought we splurged, this is a date night that we could repeat without breaking the bank.

Date Night Phase 1–Food and conversation is the point

You don’t have to go to a pricey restaurant to have a great time. The main purpose of this phase is sitting down together and having adult conversation together.

When was the last time you went inside a fast food restaurant and sat down? For us, I think it was when we first moved into our house. It took longer than expected to set up internet, but we had both started brand new jobs and needed internet at home to prepare for work. We went to McDonald’s several days after work and sat with our laptops so we could use the free internet. It wasn’t healthy by any stretch because we believed if we were going to use their facility we should make purchases, but we still talk about how much fun we had those couple of weeks.

If you are wanting a more romantic venue or healthy menu than a convenient burger joint, try packing a picnic and heading to the park. You’ll have a great view, great company, and great food. PLUS check out this adorable picnic basket. Who doesn’t need an excuse to use this?

Date Night Phase 2–Location, location, location

We chose Target. It’s one of our favorite places to shop and it has a great variety so we could both find unique items to complete the scavenger hunt. We bought more items than I intended because neither one of us can practice self-control in Target. I know we are not the only ones.

If you have self control you can agree that you are not actually going to buy anything OR you can agree that each person can only purchase ONE item the other person chose for him/her. One of the Scavenger Hunt Rules is that every item has to be $25 or less. You can change the max amount to meet your budget. OR you can choose another store. I think the Scavenger Hunt would be a lot of fun to complete in a dollar store or a thrift store. This could also be a Saturday Morning Date; each person takes the list and a budget and they have to purchase as many items as possible at yard sales. That would be so much fun.

Date Night Phase 3–DIY

Painting–creating art–is something we both really love, so going to an art studio and learning some new painting techniques was really special and fun. However, you could pick up some canvases and inexpensive paints and paint at home while the kids are sleeping. Or let the kiddos paint, too. Or head back to the park and use nature as inspiration. Plus, paint supplies are fairly inexpensive if you don’t already have them on hand.

Apple Barrel Acrylic paints are my personal favorites, and this is a really great deal. I prefer stretched canvases, but panels are great, too, and little less expensive. 

What Is Your Favorite Date Night?

What is your favorite way to spend time with your significant other? Leave a comment to give us some ideas for the next time we have a kid-free evening!

Don’t forget to download your a FREE printable of the Date Night Scavenger Hunt by clicking HERE!