By informal poll, my husband and I seem to go on more dates than most married couples with three kids. I credit an experiment we started in 2007. At the time, we had recently moved to a small town in South Georgia, and had fallen into a rut of not doing much in the way of dating. I read a book by Elizabeth Noble called Alphabet Dating. In it, a guy attempts to win over his best friend by going on dates based on the 26 letters of the alphabet.
Inspired, I pulled together an Alphabet Dating Game for us. Originally, I came up with rules, although we ended up giving up on the “game” aspect, and focusing on just the following parameters: The idea was to complete the alphabet in a year – spoiler alert, it took us just shy of four years, probably because we had two kids during this time.
Objective: To have fun dates, explore our town and surrounding areas, and make it easier on each other to find something to “do.” Oh, and to spend some quality time enjoying each other’s company which didn’t involve our favorite restaurant or a movie.
- Each member of the game has assigned date letters.
- Date letters cannot be forfeited; all letters must be played.
- Efforts should be made to keep the next letter date a secret, unless it is necessary to share information with each other prior to the date.
Using the above rules, we explored areas of our town and other nearby places we may not have otherwise thought to visit. We tried activities and foods we had not before. And, we were reminded regularly how much fun we can have together, regardless of what we are doing.
A few of my favorites:
C is for Choose Your Own Adventure – My husband was in charge of this one. We went to lunch, and then I got to choose which type of store to go to next – the garden store, the hobby store or the hardware store. Once we arrived at the hardware store, I got to pick a project. By the end of the day, we’d installed a new herb garden at our house and set up a recycling center in our garage – both items on a forever long to do list that we’d been ignoring. Because it was a “date” it felt like much less work.
F is for Five K Fun Run – I was in charge of this one, and I still laugh at the memory of telling my husband what we were doing. I had just taken up running, and he was of the “I’ll only run if I’m being chased” mentality. Truth be told, I basically tricked him into running a race, and then he managed to finish within reach of winning the whole darn thing.
R is for Recipe – Continuing the trend of scheduling dates that would throw one or the other of us off our game, my husband signed us up for a Chili Cook-off. Which is all fine and good if a) he tells you more than 12 hours before the cook-off and b) you don’t make your chili in a crockpot. In twelve hours we managed to buy all of our ingredients and come up with the required decoration for our tent. We spent 10 hours in the Georgia heat with our infant son, surprised the heck out of the southern judges when they found out my Midwest recipe included spaghetti, and to this day, we do any chili cook-off we can find.
V is for Vow Renewal – For our seventh anniversary, we were able to get away for a weeklong vacation with no kiddos. While we both planned for the trip, I secretly planned a vow renewal on the beach, and a special waterside dinner for the two of us. And, I did let him in on the plan with enough time to write something nice to say to me!
W is for Wine Tasting – My husband got some friends involved in this one. All I was told was to wear “fancy clothes.” We arrived at a house and found a group of friends in cocktail attire, several bottles of wine that were wrapped so that labels were hidden, judging sheets and snacks. A great time was had by all as we tried to decide just how sophisticated our wine palates were (the Two Buck Chuck won almost every category).
With all of the great dates we went on, I do have to say, we had two duds that we still laugh about. There was I is for Indiana, where my husband tried to entertain his newly pregnant and oh-so-morning-sick wife by researching her home state. And the worst of all, E is for Español, where we attempted to shop for and cook a recipe all in Spanish. Those make for great party stories, if you ever see me out and about!