photo by Dawn Stanley, Marine spouse

Do you remember when you first met your spouse? Remember those early flutters of excitement and how everything your spouse said made you laugh in that silly schoolgirl/schoolboy way?

Yeah, that was so 10 years ago.

How can a person keep those fires burning five, 10, 15 or even 20-plus years into a marriage, and why is it so darn important to do so? According to Danielle Mark, a Navy spouse married for 15 years, it’s necessary for many reasons: “It is important to date your spouse because our lives are so busy,” she says. “We need some time to get caught up and to be ‘us.’ Dating puts romance back into our relationship.”

Danielle believes that “dating” while geographically separated is especially vital. “Dating long distance, mostly over long deployments, is a major need,” she says. “Never underestimate the power of a quick, two-second phone call just to say ‘I love you.'”

One of the keys is creativity: If you’re stuck in the “dinner and a movie” rut, what options do you have for spicing things up a bit? How do you reconnect with your spouse in a creative way? We’ve gathered some wisdom from other spouses to bring you a dozen cool ideas.

You can use these ideas or any you dream up together to reconnect in some way this year. You’re busy, but it’s worth the effort today: Distance that slowly develops in your relationship can become more difficult to overcome ?as time passes. Just as you make your children and careers a priority, you should also make your marriage one. And you can have fun in the process!

12 Dates That Will Reinvigorate Your Relationship! —>


12 Dates That Will Reinvigorate Your Relationship

At Home

These budget-friendly ideas are great for refocusing and reconnecting with your spouse. Put the kids to bed early and make your relationship a priority for the night.

1. Create a Marriage Retreat at Home

Find an interesting book about marriage that offers creative exercises, (surf online or hit a bookstore for one that’s right for you). Set aside a day or evening to try a few exercises. Have fun: Think of it as a great gym workout for your romance.

2. “Drive-In” Movie

Rent (or buy) a projector, then screen a movie on the side of your house or a fence. Pop old-fashioned stovetop popcorn with real butter and watch ?an old favorite from when you first dated. Make sure to cuddle up!

3. No-Holds-Barred Conversation

Have a date that’s all about progress, suggestion-box style. Send the kids on a sleepover night with relatives or friends, then sit down for a really authentic talk. Come prepared with three positive suggestions each for improving the way you manage your life together. Focus your suggestions on changes you’ll make, rather than changes you want your partner to make. Then set a date for a future discussion to see how you’re doing with these goals.

4. Get to Know One Another… Again

Sit down together or talk long-distance, getting to know one another all over again. Ask first-date questions: Where do you see yourself in 10 years? If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? You may be surprised at how things have changed over the years. Kids, bills and present-day stresses should be left off the table. Discuss only hopes, dreams and thoughts on things that are unrelated to your everyday stresses and worries.


Out and About

The beauty of military life is that we get to live in so many different places. And even if we stay in one place long-term, there are undiscovered gems waiting for us in any town. Below are a few ways to liven things up a bit when you have the chance to get out for a few hours of kid-free time.

5. Be Spontaneous

Let sites like Groupon or Living ?Social decide your date for you. ?Sign up for a local daily-deal site ?and pick something new each week or each month for date night. Adding an unpredictable element into your dating will make “dating” more fun.

6. Get Creative

Find a local “Art after Dark” event ?or browse local art galleries in your area. Head to a pottery painting studio to create new coffee mugs or cereal bowls for each other. Or serenade one another karaoke-style, pulling a Sonny and Cher by falling in love through “I’ve Got You Babe.”

7. Surprise Yourselves

Create individual lists of ideas for ?new and unique dates. Place those ideas in a jar and pull from that jar before heading out on your date. ?This will keep spontaneity in the dating process, while meeting both ?of your interests.

8. Date in the Daylight

Research the best brunch places in town and sneak out on your own. Head to the park for a picnic, hike local trails and make out by the lake. Head to a local ranch and take a horseback riding lesson, go to a shooting range and learn how to work that rifle your husband treasures or go roller-skating like you used to as teens-dating doesn’t have to be evenings only.


Go Big or Go Home

Military families are on tight budgets as a rule of thumb, but every once in a while a splurge is in order. You and your spouse have earned it. Here are some fabulous ideas worth the investment.

9. Bed and Breakfast?

Yes, please! Plan a B&B weekend

in the mountains or wine country. Have Grandma come to stay with the kids, while you bond through peaceful seclusion. Splurge on the room with an extra-large tub and fireplace, so leaving your room isn’t necessary. Take long walks and linger over cocktails while reconnecting on this romantic retreat.

10. Take a Class

Commit to a weekly venture together by taking a class, if your schedule will be predictable for a little while. Try anything from ballroom dancing, golfing or tennis to a cooking class. Photography is all the rage: Why not learn how to use that digital SLR together, so you both are in future photos? Regardless of your interest, you’ll connect through learning.

11. Be a High Roller

Rent that suite at a downtown hotel, or make reservations at that chic bistro you’ve been eyeing but couldn’t justify the expense. Top it off with tickets ?to a fabulous musical or comedy show. If you can’t rent a suite, then get a limo and driver so you can enjoy a few glasses of wine and make it home safely to your babies.

12. NYC or Vegas

Nothing says adult like the bright lights of the Big Apple or Sin City. You can see wonderful shows, have delectable meals and dance until the wee hours in both of these cities. ?Both locations are a must-do at least once for a dating splurge, just the two of you.

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