It’s arrived! That wonderful crisp fall weather that makes you want to break out the cozy sweaters and head out with your mate to do something fun. There are some activities that are uniquely autumn entertainment and others that are enhanced when done in the fall. So grab your mate and celebrate the season with some of these great fall date ideas!
You didn’t really think you were going to get all the way through an article about fall without seeing the words “pumpkin spice” did you??
Anniversary celebrations can be romantic, fun, meaningful – or all three – without your bank account taking a hit! Whether you are experiencing lean times, saving funds for a common goal, or just enjoy the challenge of finding frugal festivities, there are plenty of options for your celebration. So if you have more love than money to commemorate this year’s anniversary, here’s some ideas to help put the “Happy” in the “Happy Anniversary!”
1. Put together a time capsule. Spend some time getting creative about a collection of things that represent your years together. The silly knit cap you were gifted, a treasured pet toy, the Cracker Jack prize you’ve kept all this time, that concert T-shirt – nothing’s off limits! You can go traditional and bury your treasures in a waterproof container to be dug up in the agreed upon number of years. Or wrap up your package and add a gift tag designating when it’s to be opened – put it in the attic or other location where it won’t be underfoot, but it also won’t be forgotten. This could turn into an annual tradition – every year you could dig up/unwrap your capsule and add a new treasure or two to represent your ongoing marital journey. BONUS: You have already created a future low-cost anniversary celebration.
2. Have a celebratory breakfast. A Belgian Waffle splurge will still come in substantially under what a dinner out would cost. BONUS: It’s a great way to start out your special day!
3. Go retro. Activities from your youth such as bowling, indoor ice skating, roller skating, or visiting a video arcade are easy on the wallet and great for generating memories. BONUS: Any sore muscles developed as a result of your blast-from-the-past activity could lead to an anniversary-extending massage!
4. Try out that upscale restaurant. But skip the dinner! Get yourselves dressed up and enjoy a leisurely-paced appetizer or two followed up with a grand-finale dessert! BONUS: You get to test-drive the wares and make an informed decision as to whether or not you’d even want to invest in a main course for a future splurge.
5. Head to the zoo. Now when was the last time you did that? There’s probably new features and animals that you’ve never even heard of. BONUS: the goofy selfies with the giraffe towering behind or the expressive photo-bombing monkey included are great Facebook fodder as well as souvenirs.
6. Rent THAT movie. You know – the one you saw at the theater when you were dating? This time you’ll be able to hold hands without worrying about if your palms are getting sweaty! BONUS: If sparks start to fly, you don’t have to mess with that romance-delaying drive home!
7. Write a love letter to your spouse. Whether it is your gift to your mate, or you each write one to trade, writing a a love letter to your spouse is a true treasure. BONUS: It is a portable, irreplaceable gift that has the power to keep on giving!
As we head into June, one of the most romantic months of the year, you may be trying to decide whether to pop the question or how to answer the question that was popped. You may be feeling that almost everything is wonderful about the relationship – with just a few small exceptions. Well, we know that there is no such thing as a perfect marriage – if things are 85% wonderful and you feel that will certainly take care of the 15% that presents more challenge, you’re probably right. But here are a few things to think about that may seem small right now, but have potential to drastically change those percentages in the future.
1. Hints of a dual personality. Sometimes we’re so busy being flattered by how special the courting treatment is that we don’t notice the “other face” of the one we love. The one shared with family members or old friends. Is the potential life-mate who is considerate and humble with you arrogant or routinely snarky with others? Does confidence erode to a troublesome eagerness to please with certain family members?
2. How they handle the little stressers. Say you arrive at a restaurant for an anticipated lovely evening. But the hostess insists you don’t have a reservation and she won’t be able to seat you. Does natural frustration turn into rage? If the response is over the top, embarrassing, or deeply disrespectful, try to imagine their reaction if the stakes are higher – such as with finances, children or loss.
3. The difference in values or moral foundation seems to be expanding. Differences can be good – they can make things interesting. But with core values? Not so much. Sometimes when people are crazy in love, they don’t want to probe too deeply regarding differences. After all, why borrow trouble before an issue actually arises? But things like the definition of an affair, whether or not children are raised with religion and other touchy topics that go to your core values should absolutely be discussed before anybody says “I do.” And those aren’t things to fight about – differences don’t necessarily mean one of you is wrong and the other is right. But it could mean that long-term compatibility will be problematic.
4. Too much drama. No matter how much fun making up is, a lot of prior breakin’ up and makin’ up doesn’t bode well for marital longevity.
5. You settle for the lowest common denominator. Partners should lift each other up, bring out the best in each other and have the best interest of the other in mind. You’ve heard “two out of three ain’t bad,” right? That doesn’t apply here. No matter how incredible you and your partner are at two, if that third element isn’t present it is time to blink the stars out of your eyes.
Barbara “Cutie” Cooper knows a little something about marriage – as well she should after being married for 73 years! With the help of her granddaughters, she tells her story in Fall in Love for Life – Inspiration from a 73-Year Marriage. And what a fun story it is!
Each chapter ends with a section called “Cutie’s Counsel” – succinct, and surprisingly timeless advice, that can be appreciated by everyone from somebody just starting to date to long-time married couples. If you like hanging out with someone who ‘calls it like they see it,’ grab a cup of coffee and spend an afternoon with Cutie Cooper.
Here’s a few of her nuggets of wisdom:
On Making it Work:
Check out Friday’s Five for more Nuggets of Wisdom!
There are so many celebrations and weird ‘holidays’ in May, I was having trouble deciding which one to write about. When I came across Dennis Spielman’s Uncovering Oklahoma’s 2014 Date Idea Book, I knew that International Tuba Day (first Friday in May), Lumpy Rug Day (May 3) and No Socks Day (May 8) weren’t going to make the final cut.
The book isn’t just a laundry list of places to eat and events – it’s a thoughtful collection of eateries, activities and options with remarks about what special characteristic makes it a good date choice. From fitness options to less-fit-conscious options (I’m just now finding out about a Cake Eater’s Club??) there’s something for every age, taste and budget. I was going to have my husband choose between a glass-blowing class and checking out a night of live music, pop-up shops and a major food truck gathering, but then I remembered it’s date month – we can do both!
For the evening date that doesn’t end until after the morning meal, Spielman highlights several Bed and Breakfasts around the state that offer special features to enhance your spousal date. I was delighted to see Holmberg House in Norman, run by our dear friends, innkeepers Lou and Gene Christian, included on the list.
The book includes a handful of suggestions for outside of Oklahoma, and some clever ideas for date activities.
For those of you who aren’t in Oklahoma, I’m pleased to tell you that I entered several state and city names with the words “dating ideas” into a search engine and for each there were several articles with entertaining suggestions. So while the ideas may not be as organized as the Spielman book or all in one place, they are readily available. Not to mention that I did a lot of the leg work for you in coming up with creative dating ideas in some previous posts: Date Your Mate for Free, Part One, Part Two, and Part Three. You will see things on those lists that will make you say: “Hmmm – I never thought about that for a date – what a great idea!” You and your spouse are now officially armed to fully participate in Date Your Mate Month!
Remember: Statistics show that a couple that makes time to play together is more likely to stay together. Just sayin’ . . .
You’re right on track with your New Year’s Resolution to have a regular date night with your spouse. You have a list of great date ideas, you both have set aside that special night, and you’re both looking forward to it. So what could possibly go wrong?
Nothing – if you avoid the following Date Busters!
1. Being late. Sure, stuff happens. But it doesn’t have to be stuff that could be avoided with some simple planning. Don’t take that last minute call. Avoid the temptation to do a quick errand en route. Nothing says “you’re special” like demonstrating your eagerness to spend your date time with the one you love by being on time.
2. Talking too much shop. Whether your job is in the house or out, talking too much about your daily frustrations or detailed accounts of activities that your spouse wasn’t part of can be a date-downer. There’s nothing wrong with sharing info with each other about what’s going on for you, of course. But part of the getting out together is to connect and focus on each other – and have some fun.
3. A roving eye. You know – eying appreciatively other good lookers. And don’t give me lame excuses like I can look as long as I don’t touch or I’m only human or I may be looking but I’m HERE with (oh-so-lucky) him/her. Ogling others in the presence of your mate is just plain disrespectful.
4. Not turning off the electronics. You knew this would be on the list, right? It should have been number one, but I didn’t want to start out with something so obvious. The exceptions to the rule are if your sitter needs to be able to contact you, it is mandatory for your employment, or there is a potential emergency that you are waiting for word on. And even then, there should be an agreement that you will only take calls that fit into the designated category – all others can leave a message at the sound of the beep.
5. Forgetting your manners. In addition to the basics of please and thank you, pull out the old-fashioned courtesies. Opening the door for your mate, assisting up a curb, pulling out a chair, and – as important – allowing your mate to open the door, assist you and pull out your chair.
What behavior do you consider a Date Buster?
Image credit: public domain jpeg from wpclipart.com
Thanks for stopping by to help me celebrate my first anniversary! It’s been quite a year. My husband and I lost precious loved ones, dealt with (and beat) cancer, dealt with other health issues and life challenges during this past year – as so many of you are doing. And through it all we continued to try to prioritize and celebrate our marriage – as so many of you are trying to do, too. It was a good year.
I’d like to thank each of you friends and visitors that contributed to that first year. I appreciate the support so many showed me as I started this venture a year ago as well as those who have found me over the past year and stuck with me. I appreciate that you have shared my posts on your social media outlets (it makes a huge difference) and I absolutely love reading your comments and believe they have made this site way more interesting than it otherwise would be.
I received a report from wordpress.com summing up my first blog year and telling me what a great one it was. It stated that the most read post was Calling All Spouses – The 30-Day Gratitude Challenge. The report said:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
That impressed me because that means there’s a lot of spouses out there that are interested in showing appreciation for their mates. I figure if only 10% actually took the challenge, that is still a lot of grateful spouses!
While that fun post got the most attention, I thought on this anniversary date I would highlight some of my other favorites from the past year that you may not have seen and tell you why they are special to me.
1. Shrew-B-Gone – The Product that Can Change Your Marriage. I love being the inventor of this product – I think I have the potential to make millions with it. There are just a few kinks that need to be worked out before it will be ready for mass distribution.
2. Introverted But Not Shy – Does Your Mate Need Space? I wrote this because I had my own “Aha” moment when I learned the real meanings of the words ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert.’ It helped me see things from a new perspective. Judging by the conversation it generated, I was certainly not alone.
3. When to Dump the Date – 6 Red Flags. This is a favorite of mine because I got to address a pet peeve. Well, actually a couple of them. I believe there is great info in this post for anybody dating or who has a child/parent/relative/friend/roommate/pet who is dating. If we date smarter, we marry smarter.
4. 5 Ways to Make Your Mate Feel Great. There are three reasons this is a favorite. First, I got to share my feelings about raisins. Second, the suggestions are soooooo doable. Third, it’s just plain fun. Go ahead – I dare you: just try to read it all the way through without smiling at least once!
5. 10 Ways to Get to Divorce Court Without Beating Your Wife or Having an Affair – This is the post that started it all! It took first place in the OWFI (Oklahoma Writing Federation, Inc) writing contest and does a nice job of capturing my attitude about what I really think of some of the stuff that goes on in marriage. Sure the title is a little in-your-face, but so is divorce!
6. 10 Ways To Impress Your Family Law Judge. I think this is a fun read. And when else will I ever have another opportunity to use that interesting picture again??
Thank you again, all, for your support, readership and friendship. If there are any topics you would like to read about or chat about in the upcoming year, I’d love to hear them!
So to honor Fridays, I am starting this new feature – Friday Five. It may be informational, entertaining, inspirational, or some combination. It may be five related thoughts, or five random topics. But it will be short. And it will leave you with a new thought, idea, or smile on your face.
Up first, five of my favorite 2013 tips from various posts that will serve you well in 2014.
1. From 20 Things You Should Not Say to Your Spouse (Part 2): “You’re not doing it right.” Translation: “You’re not doing it the way I do it.” This is a fast-track to getting a personal invitation to do it the right way – as only you can do it.
2. From When to Dump the Date – 6 Red Flags: Red flag: You become their incentive to get fixed. Problems with alcohol, drugs, gambling, or any other type of addiction should be a dating deal-breaker. And yet, you’re in love. You hear yourself utter the ultimatum: “If you don’t get help for your problem with [fill in the vice], I’m going to stop dating you.” NO, NO, NO. You have that backwards. Flip that sentence right around: “I am going to stop dating you. I hope you get help with your problem.”
3. From 7 Behaviors Couples Should Avoid: Unnecessary contradictions. During spouse’s story about falling in front of a red door, you interrupt to point out the door was green. Well, that was helpful. Spouse carries on describing the tall man with big glasses who yanked the door open. You clarify that the glasses were actually goggles. Leaving your audience with a mental “So what?” If the correction isn’t significant or necessary, squelch it.
4. From Social Media and Marriage – The Good, the Bad, and Even Some Ugly. A negative – “catching up with” old flames. You tell yourself you’re going to see if they’re online – just to see what they’re up to. There they are! You tell yourself you’ll just say ‘hi.’ It’s okay to just check in and see how they’re doing, right? No. It’s not. Would it be oklay with you if you found out your spouse was ‘facebooking’ with a prior romantic partner? Most people don’t plan to have a physical or emotional affair – intimacy evolves one innocent step at a time. Don’t take the first step.
5. From 5 Ways to Stop the Fight Before it Starts: Pull a picture out of your pocket. A really cute one of the two of you together. Hold it up in front of your face. Now who can argue with that? Having such a picture in your pocket at all times will also serve as insurance – kind of like how it never rains when you actually have an umbrella with you!
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE IN THE FRIDAY FIVE?
The topic of prenuptial agreements can be divisive. Whether called prenuptial agreement, ante-nuptial agreement, or marital agreement, it is actually a contract entered into by the bride and groom to-be prior to marriage to set forth terms regarding property and/or alimony issues in the event of divorce or death.
Does it seem counter-intuitive to plan for divorce when preparing to take vows that often include the words “for better or for worse until death do us part?” And how does that conversation even go? “I love you with all my heart, honey – but in case I don’t love you in five years I would like to make sure that the property I’m bringing with me into the marriage remains mine.” Or “Baby I want to spend the rest of my life with you. But in case that life isn’t long enough to trust you with my stuff, I want you to sign something that says you won’t make a claim on my stuff.”
Discussions about finances and how they will be handled during the marriage should happen before wedding invitations are sent. This is even more necessary when one party has a disproportionate amount of property, anticipates an inheritance, works in a family business, is entering into a second marriage, and/or has children from a prior relationship.
If either party thinks they want or need a prenup, the matter and the reasons should be discussed long before the wedding date, in a stress-free setting and at a time when both parties can be focused on the topic.
If the reason given for a prenup request is something like “if we get divorced I assume I don’t want you to have my stuff,” more discussion is needed about what marriage means. If you hear “my parents are insisting,” (unless this mandate is tied to a family trust or business) this should tell you something about who you’re marrying and how future decisions will be made. Hearing “my buddy had one and it came in handy,” should also result in you examining the wisdom of marrying this person.
But what if you have children from a prior marriage and want to make sure they inherit the house they grew up in? Or what if your mate has gone through a divorce and wants to ensure that any holdings worked for will not be further diluted? Neither position is inconsistent with planning a life-time together. Often dealing with those niggling “what ifs” frees up the parties to enter into the marriage with abandon, knowing if the unforeseen happens it has already been dealt with.
You should consult an attorney if you want more information on such agreements or you are being asked to sign one. Each state has specific rules that need to be abided by to ensure that the contract is enforceable in the future. Whether seeking a prenup, responding to a request for one, or both, each party should have their own attorney because their interests are different and one attorney cannot effectively represent both interests.
Even if you are contemplating a very simple agreement, wording matters and you should leave that to an expert. An attorney can also let you know if there are things missing in the contract which should be included, terms are included which are unfair or wouldn’t be enforced in that state, and when and how the contract can be enforced.
Whether entering into a prenuptial agreement is planning to fail or failing to plan depends on the attitude of the parties and the reasons for doing so. Make sure you have the conversation about such a contract early enough in the relationship that you can discern which category your situation falls under.
Did you have a prenuptial agreement or wish you did? Tell us about it in the comment section below.
You’ve been dating your mate for free since (or before) March when part one of Date Your Mate was published. You revved things up with all the options provided in April’s part two. But wait – there’s more! As we head into summer, this last installment of the Date Your Mate series offers suggestions for fun (and free-ish) outdoor entertainment.
· Go fly a kite. Yes, I’m serious – there is not an age limit on this delightful activity. Check out a kite-making book from the library or Google “how to make a kite” and you will be pleasantly surprised to discover that you probably already have all the required materials. Some assembly required, of course! Take your new creation out on a breezy day to a spot where the sky is free of telephone wires and let it, as well as your spirits, soar.
· Music, music, music. If you have already located fairs and festivals within a comfortable drive (as suggested in Part 1) check out what they list for entertainment. Many have schedules for musical events such as bands, singers, symphonies, and choirs. You may also find dance exhibitions on the lists – cloggers, jiggers, tappers, and belly dancers to name a few. In addition, do a computer search for ‘free concerts’ in the geographic range you are interested in, check with the chamber of commerce in nearby cities, and peruse the entertainment section of your local newspaper. The problem won’t be finding options, it will be choosing which events to attend. Lose the earbuds and iPods for an evening and enjoy.
· Farmers market. They are not just for foodies anymore. In addition to fresh produce, one might find wares from locals such as bee products, goat products, hand-crafted soaps and candles, yarns, brooms, breads and baked goods. It’s a learning experience, too – merchants love to answer questions about their products. Who knew a goat could help produce safe and effective shampoo, body lotion, chapstick, detergent? And you’re going to buy food to eat anyway, so why not make it something fresh while supporting local providers?
· Flea Markets and Garage Sales. Can you say “people watching?” No better place to enjoy that hobby. In addition, one can find a myriad of inexpensive treasures and idea generators. Get silly and wear outfits that will contribute to the enjoyment of other people watchers!
· Firework displays. For those of you who haven’t been for a few years, plan ahead for an explosive date night. Bring with you the big-enough-for-two (but not too big) blanket to sit on and do lots of hand-holding. Who says the fireworks have to end when the light show is over??
Now you have plenty of date options for inside and out, warm weather and cold, daytime and night, winter and summer. And none will cost you much more than the ink used to write it on the calendar. Notice I didn’t say “lead?” Don’t “pencil it in.” Use ink. Make it happen. Make dating your mate a priority and receive maximum returns on your marital investment.
Many low-cost dating ideas have been set forth in the Date Your Mate articles as well as your suggestions, but I know there are still plenty of good ideas that we haven’t covered. Tell us what we missed in the comment section below.