Build a Better Date Night
Names: 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."
The experts loved the five-minute ritual, which eases the scheduling pressure that prevents many date nights from happening at all. But Schwartz advised the Adamses to expand beyond their "How was your day?" conversations and get creative. She suggested that they develop ways to mix it up by brainstorming together and surprising each other. She emphasizes that no one, including the Adamses, should feel pressured to come up with something novel for every single date. There's nothing wrong with what the two do now: chat in the kitchen while Dan does the dishes. But sharing a glass of wine, going for a short walk, or just sitting on the deck once a week can make those few moments feel more special.
The overachieving couple decided that they would come up with something different to do every single day for an entire week. One night, they traded foot massages. The next, Cate asked Dan to show her how to fix a flat tire on her bicycle. Another evening, each drew a picture of the best thing that happened to them that day. And one night, after Dan noticed someone selling weird-looking rocks on eBay, they raced down to the creek that runs through their backyard to see who could find the most eBay-worthy stones.
The verdict: Sure, it was nice, but enough already!
Her take: "The night we brainstormed was funny, and we laughed a lot throughout the week. But the best part, honestly, was all the talking we did while we were doing these things. In almost every case, we wound up spending much longer than five minutes, and it was good to realize we could make that much time for each other."
His take: "We had some fun with this, but I missed the quietness — and the spontaneity — of just being able to sit down and talk with Cate and decompress. And having to think of something new to do every night just wouldn't be sustainable in the long run, obviously. But I can see doing something special more often than we do now."