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My spouse has his own battles, but administratively-informed adventure is not one of them. The man can plan a date, and we need them! (Image: Heather Pasley)
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My husband is an A+ date planner: Here's what I've learned

Marriage is one of life’s great educators. It exposes our vulnerabilities and reveals our strengths.

One of my more pronounced weaknesses is in the field of logistics. I love a solid plan, but my ability to create one effectively is tucked somewhere between my aptitude for calculus and tumbling.

That is to say, planning is not my gift.

My spouse has his own battles, but administratively-informed adventure is not one of them. The man can plan a date, and we need them. Eighteen years of marriage plus four kids requires that kind of intentional intimacy. It is easy to let the Venn diagram of our life together slide apart, forming two circles with no shared center, but we have found that a solid date night can bring bring us back into a healthy position and remind us why we liked each other in the first place.

So, what have I learned about the practice of dating from my spouse?

Establish the goal:

In the doldrums? Look for a little entertainment or adventure to put wind in your sails.
I recommend The Moisture Festival, Wings Over Washington, IFLY

Struggling to feel connected? Seek out some cooperative play
Check out The Pinball Museum, Vidiot Arcade, Geeks Who Drink Trivia

Feeling down and out of things to talk about? Have someone else do the talking for a bit.
Look up Comedy Underground, The Womb Room, Unexpected Productions

Need to process life together or generate some peace amidst the tumult of responsibility?
Pack a picnic and find a sunset, like at Seahurst, Lincoln Park, Golden Gardens

Whatever you choose to do, be sure the venue is in line with your goal. If you need to talk, don’t let a millennial DJ come anywhere near your love. If you desperately need a break from all that is required of you both, that DJ might be just what you need. Analyze what your relationship is hungry for and feed it something delicious.

Everyone needs a little Yelp sometimes:

I confess, it used to drive me nuts that my husband would spend so much time on Yelp prior to date night. I am happy to dive into any diner, franchise, or food truck, even if the health department only deemed it GOOD. But, there is something to be said for avoiding food poisoning if the goal is stoking your eternal flame. It’s not the professional criticizers that give the most helpful feedback though. Some cyber-troglodytes will dish out a one-star review because the server had a stain on his apron.

But, if @happywife97 loves the app selection so much she has dedicated her life to reverse engineering the recipes, it might be worth a visit.

Yelp has led us to some of the greatest meals we have ever had. Bistro Baffi - try the stuffed mushrooms and lobster risotto. The Bourbon Bar and Grill - you will have to go south to Puyallup, but the shrimp and grits will change your life. The Corson Building - the menu is limited to whatever they feel like cooking, and they have earned that right through being intimidatingly good at preparing food.

Step outside the box:

Enjoying dinner and a movie together is a lovely way to spend an evening. Our first date in 1997 was to Red Robin and an AMC. But, routine can become an enemy to romance, and my wizard of a spouse is brilliant at battling monotony. Whether we are braving a haunted house (cowering in my case), or engaging in the cheerful and charitable spectacle of the Seattle Thunderbird Teddybear Toss, watching our favorite indie artist at Neumos or drinking a beer while watching a throwback film at the Tin Theater, we are less likely to devolve into domestic discussions if the memory we are creating together is unique. So, if Red Robin and AMC beckon, tell them you have better things to do.

If you can’t make it good, make it memorable:

This “ism” finds its roots in my family tree, but it is often my husband that reminds me of its’ necessity. When you are willing to try something new, there is always a risk that things might go sideways. But, if smart phones have taught us anything, it is that landscape is the best way to capture a moment. The best stories include a twist in the plot, so let the night or day, take you where it wants. Be kind, be open, be ready for anything and if all goes wrong, find it funny and count it a story to tell.

May your adventures be plentiful and your connection strengthened through intentional memory making. And rain or shine, never, ever, ever stop dating.

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