Early this year during a hard time, I decided we were going to plan date nights to keep us busy and have activities to look forward to. At first Matt thought they were a bit silly, but he’s a good sport so he went along with it. Now they are something we take pride in — we sit down together, plan our dates, and then follow through. And, like I originally intended, they give us something to do and something to look forward to… but they also have made us try new activities, go new places, and try new recipes. Our dates also give us something to talk about, to each other and to our friends and family. During infertility the question “what’s new?” is very painful. I feel like NOTHING is new because for us it’s the same old disappointing story every month… and I’m definitely not saying that the date nights take that away (they don’t!), but sometimes they do give us something else to think about. They give us a break. Our dates nights have been a nice way for us to shift the focus back to us. They have been a small way that we can kind of reclaim our relationship during a time when it feels like everything is out of our control.
During our dates we don’t play that game where we don’t talk about kids or pregnancy or our treatment or anything like that. I see things online about making time where you don’t talk about it — I wish that would work for us, but it doesn’t. So we don’t force it. Sometimes during a date we talk a lot about it, and sometimes we don’t. We just go with it. It’s time for us and we go with whatever feels right with the activity we’ve chosen for that date.
So. You must be thinking, “gee how much money are you spending on all of these dates?” Answer: not much. We are saving all spare pennies these days for our infertility treatments, so we’ve put ourselves on a budget and while we’re not perfect, we try to stick to it… Therefore, many of our dates are not very extravagant. If we do go out, we try to stick to one of drinks, dinner, dessert, or activity to cut down on cost. In addition to the dates listed below, we also have “Fancy Friday”. Every Friday we dress up for dinner, whether we’re going out or staying in. I usually wear a dress and Matt usually wears a shirt and bow-tie. If we’re staying in we usually eat off of our fine China… even if we’re just having leftovers or frozen pizza. It’s fun.
Here’s a list of some of the things we’ve done:
- Arcade — this date was so much more fun than we expected! Lots of cheap thrills — we limited ourselves to only spending $10 each. We played fun games, then combined our “tickets” (the arcade we went to had virtual tickets that were stored on the card filled with virtual tokens…) and traded them in for ridiculous prizes!
- Art fair (or similar open air market)
- Art gallery walk
- Breakfast for dinner & crossword puzzle — we tried a new recipe for this date and it’s become a favorite: cinnamon applesauce pancakes
- Bubble bath & champagne — one of our favorites. I highly recommend the bath bombs from Lush. They’re amazing and so bubbly. The first bubble bath date inspired our monthly toasts to our survival.
- Chocolate — we have a chocolate cafe in town. It’s the best.
- Farmer’s Market
- Game night at home
- Go ice skating
- Go out for brunch
- Go out for coffee/tea
- Go out for dessert
- Go out for drinks — we went to a speakeasy style bar here in town!
- Have a picnic — this was one of my favorites. Pack up a simple lunch and take a walk to your backyard or local park, spread out your blanket and enjoy your lunch. Simple, but very relaxing. Our favorite picnic menu: french baguette, sliced ham, some kind of French cheese, and sparkling juice — it reminds us of a picnic we had in France.
- Have fondue — we went to The Melting Pot for our first fondue date. On our second fondue date we made chocolate fondue at home. It was pretty easy! Here’s the recipe we used.
- Have pizza and do a puzzle — this puzzle turned into many nights of side by side puzzle working!
- Jazz club — we discovered a local jazz club! We’ve been back since because we enjoyed it so much.
- Live music
- Live theater — we’ve treated ourselves to season tickets to a local theater group and to occasional traveling Broadway shows
- Make a fort — we did this in our living room and then watched online videos on our laptop inside the tent. It was fun and worked well until kitties tried jumping on top of the sheet covering the fort…
- Milkshakes at Sonic
- Mini golf
- Movie night — we’ve done lots of movie nights. Sometimes we stay home, sometimes we go out. We’ve been to the new “fancy theater” in town (one with recliners!) all the way to the second run or “cheap theater”, as we call it. We’re currently waiting for something we’re interested in to hit the drive-in so we can go there too.
- Stay at a B&B — ok, on the extravagant side, but sometimes it’s nice to splurge a bit!
- Tandem biking — this was a super fun activity that we tried on vacation this summer. I suggest it only if you and your partner are good at working together in coordination – the gears/pedals on the bike go together; there’s no pedaling independently!
- Watch the sunrise
Some date nights on our idea list for the future:
- Swing dancing (we used to do this in college all the time!)
- Comedy club
- Local museum
A note about some of our dates: not all of the activities listed above are recommended while one is trying to conceive. I’m not a doctor, so don’t take this as medical advice, but I do know that things like baths, biking, and drinking are not great for sperm and/or baby making. I recommend these activities on months “off”. For example, we had to take time off trying after I was treated with methotrexate because it can cause birth defects… it was the perfect time to take a hot bath and go on a bike ride.
At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what we’re doing on a date night as long as it’s something at least tolerable to both of us that gets us out of our typical pattern. Our dates break up the monotony of disappointment and treatment. They give us bright spots of joy during this dark time, and to be honest, I’ll take the good times where I can get them. Life is short and we’ve already spent over two years traveling this crazy road of infertility. It’s good to take little breaks to have fun and remember why we’re even on this journey — we love each other and enjoy spending time together. I believe that regardless of where our road is headed, our date nights will continue to bring us closer together in love.