I love date night. From my first days with Daryl, I looked forward to catching up on life. I lived for our occasional road trips together because they meant hours to just hang out with my very favorite person.
When we got married, we kept the date nights going. Every couple of weeks or so we’d head into the city (love you, Chicago!) to drink coffee or eat dinner or walk the streets and talk. By the time we got married we’d already known each other for six years, but there were still seemingly endless story-wells to draw from.
I am always the creative question asker. Daryl’s a great conversationalist, but his mind doesn’t think of the random or the spontaneous. If you want to stump him, ask him what his three favorite movies are. He’ll fall silent and get back to you with titles days later.
[This isn’t a dig – he’s written a brilliant theological and philosophical dissertation that baffles me in its nuance and beauty. The guy just can’t come up with movie titles!]
Then kids came along, and my spontaneous question asking fell by the wayside. Sleep deprivation is murder on creativity. Soon our dates started sounding like this:
Me: “So… how are you doing?”
Him: “Good. Tired. How are you doing?”
Me: “Same. So… yeah… Love you!”
Him: “Love you too!”
I needed to think up some better questions. I did some research, talked to friends, and came up with our list of ten.
Whether you’ve been married for sixty years or dating for six days, here’s my current stock of go-to date questions to get the conversation flowing and learn something new about the one you love. Bonus: some of these work well with kids, too!
10. What was the highlight of your week?
I often get surprising answers to this one. Daryl will share a breakthrough in his dissertation I wouldn’t know about otherwise, or a sweet moment he had with our preschooler at the park.
This helps me reflect on the positive elements of my week. Retelling them refreshes the joy I felt in those moments.
9. What was the low of your week?
The answers to this often surprise me, too. I had no idea Daryl felt so frustrated at the DMV (though really, don’t we all?) or felt so powerless trying to get our newborn down for his nap.
Sharing the lows of our week draws us together in mutual love and support, and sometimes turns to helpful problem solving (how do we get the newborn to nap?).
8. How are we?
Often we focus so much on ourselves, or on the needs of the kids, that our relationship can lack the attention it needs. Asking how we are turns us toward one another and gives us permission to share how our marriage is doing.
7. What’s something you’re proud of from the past month?
Meeting with a congregant who had difficult questions. Reading the ninth book to our preschooler, even though he asked eighteen bazillion questions. Pushing a baby out with no drugs. Getting a draft of a final dissertation chapter done. Inviting a neighbor over for dinner when Daryl’d rather zone out to a basketball game.
Sometimes the answers to this are hilarious.
“Really?” Daryl asked me, “you’re most proud of being brave at the dentist? It was just a cleaning!”
Yes, sir, I am. Dentists be scary.
6. Describe a moment when you felt most yourself lately.
This question is a way of asking: “What made you feel good, grounded, happy lately?”
It was Eric Liddell, the Olympic runner, who once said, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”
Asking this question is a way to celebrate your partner. It lets me celebrate what makes Daryl him.
5. What’s one thing you wish you could have a “do-over” on recently?
The answer to this question gives you the opportunity to encourage and be encouraged. It lets you in on a vulnerable moment, and invites you to let them in on one of yours.
4. What surprised you recently?
I almost stepped on a rattlesnake while out on a run. He found coconut fudge ice cream at the Albertson’s.
3. What do you need more or less of?
This is one of the marriage questions suggested by Alpha’s The Marriage Course. Our answers range from the lighthearted (more cowbell!) to the potentially conflictual (less time with the AC running…) to the deeply meaningful. When I was newly postpartum I asked for more hugs from him. In a season where I was primarily a sleep-deprived milk-machine, his hugs helped me remember that we were married, too – not just parents.
We’re often afraid to broach these subjects unless we’re explicitly given permission. This question gives permission, and is a good one to keep in the date-night repertoire.
2. What’s one thing you read/listened to/saw that sparked your interest?
Daryl and I have completely different online histories. I can tell he’s been on my laptop when the browser pulls up ESPN.com. He knows I’ve been on his phone if he pulls up Christianity Today or Entertainment Weekly (I’m a Survivor junkie!).
Due to our vastly different reading lists (I read novels, sociology from people like Malcolm Gladwell and David Brooks, and Christian nonfiction from folks like NT Wright and Anne Lamott. He reads heavy theology, ancient philosophy, and National Geographic!), this gives us lots to talk about.
Though I always ask him to keep the UCLA Bruin talk to himself because it is so not my thing.
1. How can I help you this week?
A posture of service boosts your marriage, especially when it’s mutual. When asked this question, Daryl has shared with me how much he hates packing snacks – a thing I love to do. I’ve shared how overwhelmed I get by bath time – a thing it turns out he loves to do!
Every week is different, and knowing you have a teammate in your corner willing to help you carry the load is priceless.
What questions do you use for date night? We could always use some new ones!