Let’s face it. COVID-19 sucks.
And not just the whole face masks, social distancing, closing down of the world. But the way this impacts our ability to connect, genuinely and wonderfully connect, with our spouses.
And as a first responder family, it is even more difficult.
So, we are here to help you with that.
During times like this, we have got to get creative with the way we connect with our spouses.
Now, before I tell you all about the ideas I have for date nights, I have to tell you the secret to making these date nights work for you are your responder.
Here is the secret:
So simple! And yet, not so easy.
In order for you and your responder to get the most out of date night, you both need to make the commitment to focus your energy and attention on each other during the time you have set aside for date night.
Whether it is once a week, or once a month (if you are on opposite schedules and have little ones who rely on you for survival), your time together MUST BE INTENTIONAL.
Turn off your phones. Leave them on silent and in the other room charging. Ignore the pile of dishes in the sink (trust me, even if you finish them, there will be more when you are done).
Tell your kids they can’t interrupt unless it is something to call 911 about (and hey, your responder could fix that quickly, anyways!) If your kids are too little to follow this rule, wait until bedtime and one of the nights you are off together, stay up a little late for this time together. Trust me, it will be worth it!
Now, onto the fun stuff!
#1. Drive-In Movie.
Maybe you are lucky enough to live near one of the last monuments to an era of easy date nights. If that is you, find out when they are having the drive-in movies and plan to go! Even if you have to take the kids, take two cars and have the kids in one car while you sit next to them (assuming they are old enough AND mature enough!)
Buuuuuuut, maybe you aren’t so lucky. I still have a solution for you.
Projector! Borrow one from a friend or get one my favorites off of Amazon. Hook it up to your computer or other device and stream the movie onto the side of your house while you sit in your car.
Not enough blank space on your house wall? Hang up a white sheet with some cheap PVC pipe, or get your responder to go all MacGyver with his survival gear and find a way to hang it up himself (something my dad would totally do!).
This is also a great one to do after the kids have gone to sleep! Just remember to be intentional and stay up together.
Then, sit in your car with some of your favorite microwave popcorn, a few of your favorite movie snacks from the dollar store, and maybe even a glass of wine to feel a little more fancy!
#2. Take a boxing class together!
Wait a second, aren’t all the fitness studios shutting down again?
Yes, yes they are. BUT, you can still take a boxing class together at home!
Look into local fitness studios and see if they are offering Zoom or Facebook Live classes that you can sign up for. Maybe there was a studio you were wanting to check out, but before the pandemic, your shiftwork schedules made it too hard. See if you can take one, now!
None for the local studios? That’s okay!
Check out some videos online, or maybe in your old DVD collection. Yes, I mean break out those old and dusty P90X DVDs and pop one in on an afternoon when you are both home. Or check out Prime Video or YouTube for some at-home lessons you can try together!
#3. Create your own Final Table!
So there was this series my husband and I were obsessed with on Netflix called “The Final Table”. Basically, it was a cooking competition show. (Think Hell’s Kitchen, just more family friendly).
What we loved about it was that in each episode, the competitors had to make their own versions of traditional dishes from around the world. People got so creative and it was fun!
Maybe you have a different favorite cooking show? The Great British Baking Show, perhaps? Or Nailed It?
Have your own cooking competition in your home! Select a certain style of food, or even a certain dish if you both can cook, and get to cooking together.
Conduct your own version of your favorite cooking show! Compete with each other and see who wins. Don’t forget, presentation is all part of the delivery in the competitions. So don't forget to add flowers to the table!
Whoever wins gets a neck massage afterwards ;)
#4. Double Date Night!
Thanks to the pandemic, we can now have double date nights without going crazy on getting schedules to align!
This is also a great one to do after little ones have gone to sleep!
Connect with a couple who you have wanted to go on a double date with but haven’t been able to in a while. Maybe it was a couple from the academy who moved out of the area. Maybe it is your old childhood best friend living on the opposite side of the country. Maybe it is a new couple at the department that you haven’t really gotten to know yet.
Plan a time to get together via Zoom, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video, or any other video chat service!
Order some food for take out from a favorite local spot, light a few candles, pop open one of your favorite bottles of wine, and have a few laughs with your couple friends!
Extra points for the couple who thinks ahead and sends flowers for the other couple to enjoy during the double date!
#5. Pull out the old photo albums. Cue nostalgia.
Light a few candles, pop the champagne, and reminisce about the days of yore!
Another wonderful date night to do after you put down the little children to keep their sticky fingers from leaving fingerprints all over your old photos.
Have you only been together a few years? Bring out your old baby and childhood photos (you may need to call the parentals on this one to send them out to you).
Share some of your favorite memories from when you were little. Laugh about the buck teeth and the unibrows, maybe even the bell-bottoms and tie-dyed jeans you wore in the 90s.
Married for a while and forgot you even had a wedding album? Grab it!
Get that box of old wedding stuff and go through it. Pop the video in, watch the moment you both said, “I do.” Talk about what you remember, what you loved about that day. I know for me, one of my favorite wedding memories was when some of our guests cut into and ate our wedding cake before we did, and my husband didn’t even notice until we got the photos from the photographer!
Extra points if you can use your old wedding mementos (think champagne flutes or veil)!
#6. Breakfast in Bed!
Shift work got your schedules like yuck? Enjoy breakfast in bed ANYTIME of the day!
It could be right before your responder goes off to work, or right after they get home. If you have littles ones, even plan for it after they go to sleep.
And breakfast is one of those meals that’s easy and quick to make. Scramble some eggs, add in a few veggies, throw some bacon a skillet real quick, and brew your favorite coffee! Mine is Black Rifle Coffee Company, veteran owned, so score! And grab some of their Just Decaf coffee if you plan this for after little ones are in bed.
Or maybe you order in your favorite breakfast restaurant? Keep supporting local businesses AND enjoy some yummy food in your pajamas! Win win!
Add some fresh flowers and some colorful fruit to make the presentation a little more special and romantic.
#7. Backyard Bonfire!
Is your responder a firefighter, perhaps? Then a fire-themed date night is just up your alley!
Show that fire pit some love and have a bonfire together!
Grab some wine, maybe a few marshmallows, and sit to watch the flames glow after the kids have gone to bed.
Need a little more? Try finding your favorite “Date Night Questions” to ask each other around the fire. For some fun and random questions to ask, check out this blog.
Want to add a little spark to the flames? Try this set of sexy questions to increase your intimacy together!
#8. Pull out the old Xbox or PlayStation and challenge your responder!
Or maybe you go even more old school and pull out the Wii!
Either way, challenge them to a night of games! Grab a few of your favorite finger snacks at the store, some soda pop, and see how long you two can play together.
Is your LEO a Call of Duty fan, and you have no idea how to play? No problem! Let him teach you! Seriously, from first-hand experience, it is a fun and silly way to engage together for a date night.
This is going back to the friendship, the important connection you need in your responder marriage. Play together, it’s what friends do!
And perfect for after little ones go to sleep
Remember to be intentional with each other during your dates together. Remember to focus on laughter and showing how much you love each other. You and your responder need this connection, now more than ever. So make it a priority!
Quarantine sucks, but that doesn’t mean your marriage has to!
Let’s get back together and focus on your marriage with your responder!
Take care, friends!
Alisha Sweyd, LMFT
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