When you get married, life changes a little. Where before there was you and then there was him [or you and her], there is now just… well… y’all [forgive my southern]. New challenges arise as you begin to try and understand how to live with what is essentially someone of a different species. Sure you’ve been dating and engaged, and you know each other well enough to marry. But, there are things you still don’t know about each other. Which is SO COOL! Marriage is like an idea. If you just let it come without nurturing it, it will quickly degrade into a memory. But, if you REALLY try, even the simplest, newest of ideas can turn into great successes. I believe we should all strive to turn marriage into something more… and perhaps by putting in a little effort we can start to do just that.
Have you ever seen those meems or watched a show where the wife says something like, “Well, I certainly REMEMBER what it was like to go on dates! John just doesn’t find the need to plan those anymore!” UGH! When I find a woman, I certainly hope I never give a reason for her to say that! Marriage, although lifelong, doesn’t have to feel like it’s monotonous! It can feel alive! And as such, I want to do my part to help couples keep the romance goin’! Again, YES, I know I’m not married and actually haven’t been on a real date in quite a while [but don’t tell]. Even still, as a totally bacheloreous man, I have found a great deal of time to think on what I WOULD do if I was dating someone. I mean… if I ever expect to have the successful relationship that I envision, I may as well be prepared, right?!
So here we are. Ten creative post-marriage ideas for new couples on a budget [because most new couples don’t have money for going to the Bahamas twice].
1. Backyard/Living room camping
You have a new life together! And yes, while sharing the responsibility of keeping a house running is fun and all, why not take FULL advantage of what you’re taking care of? So get some hotdogs. Go in the woods and find some wood. Then, build a little fire outside [you, YOU must build the fire and no you are not allowed to use lighter fluid], cook your hotdogs, and enjoy the night. Quick recommendation though, I would do this closer to when all the bugs die.
If you can’t wait though, think about setting up a tent in your living room! No one can judge you because THEY’LL NEVER KNOW! Drag a mattress in there. Turn on your favorite movie, and eat some candy. But you have to sleep there or it’s not really camping.
Challenge Step: If you’re camping in your backyard, once you leave the backdoor of your home, you aren’t allowed to go back inside until the sun rises.
2. Start a venture together that you both enjoy
Build a birdhouse. Make a frame. Decide together to start volunteering at a charity. Learn how to bake and start delivering cookie to your neighbors to get to know them.
Challenge Step: Choose a project that you can put somewhere in your house and start to THEME your rooms by making objects the same colors/shapes.
3. Decide to try a new recipe one day each week that you make TOGETHER
Not complicated, but I certainly don’t know how to cook and although I REALLY do try, I am just so creative that my work station often ends up looking more like a painting than a meal. And I know I’m not alone here! So a little practice I’m SURE could go a long way for at least ONE person in your marriage. And unless you are just REALLY feeling it, I’m not even talking fillet mignone here. Make a pizza to start out and build confidence! Or start out with learning to make Ramen noodles! Then, build up. Make a weekly schedule for each month so that you aren’t caught off guard and give up because you forgot about it while you were at the store, didn’t buy anything, and then decided just not to do it because you’re both just really tired and don’t feel like going back to Walmart.
Challenge step: Every so often, try to INVENT a new recipe with what you have in your fridge. No Walmart run. No online searching. Just take inventory, plan, and cook.
4. Have another first date
NO, I do not mean go on a date with another person. Go on you second first date with each other! And no, if you’ve already gone on a date as a married couple [which you hopefully got to do on your honeymoon], that does not disqualify you from using this. But, pretend you are on your first date. Just pretend. What kind of questions would you ask the other person? I mean, a lot can change between when you start dating someone and when you’re married. There are things I used to HATE but now I can stand them [black olives]. I’m sure there are things about your spouse that are no longer accurate. Make a list of all the questions you would normally ask on a first date and then have fun with it! And you’re married now, so get creative! Example: “Who was the first boy/girl you ever remember liking. What did you see in them?”
Challenge Step: Extend this first date mentality into the next day. Which means the husband needs to CALL his wife and tell her how much he enjoyed the date and ask her on another one.
5. Do a favorites night
Now that you have an updated list of each other’s favorites, plan an evening around your spouse [but keep this one a secret]. By now you should have a list of her new favorite movies, her favorite food, her favorite desert, the name of the first boy she liked, and a conglomeration of other fun facts. Get creative! Have her friend take her do something fun like… rock… breaking… or something even more fun than that! Then, when she gets home, her favorite song is playing. Her favorite flower is in a vase. And her favorite dinner is on the table and you’re standing there in a shirt that’s her favorite color wearing a name tag so that when people ask her who the LAST guy she ever crushed on is, she’ll have no trouble remembering your name.
Challenge Step: Apply 10 different favorites to the event!
6. Go coffeeshop hopping
Personally, I might not do this because I don’t really like coffee… but I know a lot of people like coffee so I may as well include it! So go around town and figure out all the shops. Meet the baristas. Taste the brew. It’s a great way to learn streets and figure out where other couples your age are hanging out.
Challenge Step: Don’t let yourselves leave each coffeeshop until you start a conversation with one non-barista person.
7. Random Road-Trips
For those of you who don’t have to have a plan all the time, one day road trips can be great! Pack all meals in a cooler [because after have learned recipes, you now can now make food yourself], and set out for close by landmarks.
Challenge Step: Take a selfie at the landmark and post the picture to FB with something you learned about that particular site.
8. Game night with neighbors
Contrary to common belief, we don’t NEED to turn our houses into our own personal cabins. Neighborhoods can be so much more than a collection of houses. They can be a collection of friendamilies!!! [friend + familes… I know it’s a stretch] So invite people over to play a game that adults and kids would enjoy… like charades or fishbowl!
Challenge Step: Start a “babysitting club.” You get together four families, and each week someone takes care of all four families kids, leaving the other three couples to go out together to do something fun.
Challenge Step 2: Create a “Wall of Engagement” where you showcase printed photographs of your travels.
9. Get engaged again
Go to the next town over [so no one will know you’re married] and get engaged again in cool places! Go to the mall, a baseball game, and even a college green. People will cheer for you as if it was the first time. And extra bonus all you really have to do is just kiss each other!
Challenge Step: Find a local photographer who is newish and needs portfolio work and ask if they would want to use you two as models.
10. Sunset hike/picnic
And finally, when you’ve down all the other things, I restful date will probably be needed. So, no biggie. Make a sandwich. Nothing fancy. No oregano. Go sit on the side of a hill and watch the sun go down. You don’t have to talk unless you really want to. Just be together in the beauty of nature.
Challenge Step: Don’t worry about it. It’s your day off.