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Build a Better Date Night

The Kitchen Cure continued...

Expert Makeover

"It's great that these two have such a strong common interest," says James M. Graham, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Western Washington University in Bellingham. "I'd like them to indulge their passions in a project they can finish in a few hours — one with a unique twist. Experimenting together makes a date more satisfying, just as team-building exercises draw people closer."

When a couple has to overcome a new challenge, their sense of accomplishment after they succeed is magnified. "Dates that allow that kind of growth let you surprise yourself and your partner," he says, "and see each other in a new light." Just keep changes and challenges moderate. "This should be fun, not traumatic."

The Deiblers decided to try making sushi — a dish they love in restaurants but had never prepared themselves. They bought the basic equipment (including a book of instructions) at a favorite cooking store and arranged for Nina's mom to take care of their toddler for a few hours.

The verdict: A huge hit

Her take: "The expert really nailed it when he suggested a project for us — this was great. And it was a challenge: The rice had to be just the right temperature, and some of the chopping and rolling was tricky. We did need the time without our daughter, but several of my neighbors want to trade babysitting so we can all have date nights. I found this experience very inspiring — it made me feel like we were dating again. Next time, I want to try cooking Indian food."

His take: "The food turned out really well, and we had the kind of fun we haven't for ages. It reminded me how good we are at working together and how we complement each other: Nina did the organizing and the shopping, and got the rice going. Then we took turns chopping and wrapping, tasting as we went along. And because we did it all between 5 and 7:30, we are confident now that we can make something like this happen at least every other week."

5-Minute Fixes

Build a Better Date Night GH articleNames: Cate and Dan Adams

Hometown: Salt Lake City

Married: 18 years; both are 49

Kids: Twin girls, 16

Their challenge: Making limited time together feel meaningful

"We've always tried to do date nights, even before we had kids," says Cate. "Then, after the girls were born, we didn't go out often. Now that they're older, we both work full-time and still don't go out much.

"After our last anniversary, we decided that we'd try to spend five minutes each day just talking and connecting. And it's helped. But we'd like to find a way to make that time more special."

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