Excerpt from $10 Great Dates: Connecting Love, Marriage, and Fun on a Budget by Heather Larson, David and Claudia Arp
Take a Hike (Together)
Great Date: If you’re looking for a date that is good for your relationship and your health, this is it. Some of us (like me, Dave) like to relax by doing something constructive—my personal favorite is splitting logs. Others (like Claudia) like to relax and de-stress by talking. This date meets both of our needs. It’s amazing how easy it is to talk to each other when you’re out in nature.
The Idea: Pack your backpack and take a hike. For a really great hike (and if you’re in good condition), consider an all-day hike. We love to hike along the Potomac River, and each year try to do a seven-mile hike that takes us up and down a rugged path with scenery that is simply amazing. Definitely worth it! Wherever you hike, get ready for some good exercise and conversation.
Before Your Date: Research hiking trails near you. Most hiking guides will give helpful details, such as distance, difficulty, and other unique features of the hike. You can also find helpful information on the Internet.
Plan your course, and if available, print out a map.
Take plenty of water and a couple of apples for an after-noon snack. Energy bars and nuts are also great hiking snacks.
Pack your camera or smartphone.
Bring and use sunscreen and bug spray if needed.
On Your Date - Stay on the path.
If you accidentally get on a path that is too difficult to na-vigate, be willing to turn around. (Claudia knows how I hate to turn around and retrace my steps, but some-times it’s the only thing to do!)
If you have trekking poles, use them as needed.
On narrow paths, take turns leading.
It can be fun to use a walking app. We highly recommend the Walkmeter app, which costs about $5 (which leaves 5 bucks for snacks). It shows us everything we need to track our walk: maps, graphs, statistics, speed, and terrain. It also helps us find our way back if we get off the path. It was rated the best health care and fitness application (Appy Awards). You can search the web for walking apps and find one that is just right for you.
Take along a pen and a couple of index cards to make notes. Hiking is our best brainstorming time.
What are some of your favorite ways to relax and de-stress?
If you made a map of your marriage journey so far, what would it look like?
What were some of your mountain highs or valley lows?
When was a time you needed to make a U-turn?
How open are you to exploring new paths together?
Where would you like to hike in the future? What is your dream hike?
Great Date Takeaway: Taking the time to walk together encourages a new ap-preciation of nature and the wonderful world that God created. Looking back at your marriage, marvel at where you’ve come from in your relationship and look forward to where you are going in the future.
Fun in the Water
Great Date: Heather and I (Peter) grew up in Minnesota, also known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, so we tend to think there are countless ways to have fun in, on, or around the water. On this date, you’ll have the chance to enjoy the water as you boost the fun level in your relationship.
The Idea: The options for this date will be influenced by where you live and your readiness for adventure, but the common theme is water! Whether you want to go swimming or canoeing, or just sit on the shore and enjoy the view, being in and around water is fun and often free. Think about the last time you sat by a public pool. If there were any children in the pool, you may have noticed their inexhaustible energy for swimming and playing in the water. When was the last time you went swimming or fishing, or paddled a canoe? Remember what it felt like to do a cannonball off the diving board? Perhaps you have fond memories of wading in the water and collecting shells. Maybe you know how to surf, snorkel, or sail, and it’s time to dust off that old equipment and use it. It doesn’t matter if you live near the ocean, a lake, a river, or a pool; it’s time to get in touch with that inner child and have some inexpensive fun together.
Before Your Date:
Discuss your options and make a plan that sounds like fun for both of you.
Consider the level of adventure you want to pursue. This could range from wakeboarding to surfing, swimming, or wading. Some couples may simply decide to go for a walk along the shore. Decide what sounds like the best fit for the two of you.
Ideas to consider: swim, wade, canoe, fish, boat, wa-ter-ski, dive, snorkel, surf, sail, jet-ski, stroll on the beach . . .
On Your Date:
Be safe! If you don’t know how to swim, don’t feel any pressure to go into the water; just enjoy the view.
Remember your budget and don’t feel the need to buy new water equipment. If you have some water toys or can borrow some from friends, go ahead and use them.
Depending on where you live, you might have to pay for parking or water access.
At what age did you learn to swim? What was that expe-rience like?
What’s the most fun you’ve ever had with a water activity?
Is there any water activity (sailing, snorkeling, etc.) you’ve never done that you’d like to try?
Why do you think so many adults and couples stop pur-suing fun activities in their lives?
On a scale from 1 (low fun) to 10 (high fun), how “fun” is your life these days?
What is something you could do together to boost your fun level?
Great Date Takeaway: Life often demands that we establish routines and schedules to remain effective, but our relationships don’t need to fall into mundane patterns lacking fun or adventure. After almost twenty years of marriage, Heather and I (Peter) went snorkeling for the first time this year. We were able to borrow some equipment and venture out into the ocean. Heather had never been snorkeling before, and I was sorry it took us so long to try this experience together.There are no excuses for letting a marriage become stuck in a boring routine. All it takes to liven things up is some creativity energy. We want our marriage to include a lifelong pursuit of fun and learning that we share together as a couple. We hope this Fun in the Water Date has helped you reconnect with some fun and identify potential future adventures you can pursue together.
Peter and Heather Larson and David and Claudia Arp help couples of all ages and stages build great marriages. Peter is a licensed clinical psychologist and Heather is a Christian relationship coach. David and Claudia, founders of Marriage Alive, created the many 10 Great Dates© seminars and resources now popular internationally.