12 Dates, 12 Envelopes

12 Dates, 12 Envelopes

Here’s why you want to do this:  a number of the couples I work with have an ongoing struggle with which one of them is suppose to create the romantic memories and do the planning for ongoing dates after they are married.

In the courting stage, it’s fairly obvious and traditional for most couples. He calls, he asks her out, he plans a date they both agree to, he makes the reservations, he finds the parking place, he opens the door — and generally, he pays for it all.  Not all couples do it this way but generally speaking, especially in the first stages of a relation- ship, the male half of the couple does the initiating, planning and romancing.

Then they become ‘a couple’.  They get engaged, they get married, and suddenly I hear from wives: ‘we never do anything romantic anymore’…..’we just sit on the couch and watch a Netflix on Friday night’ …’if we do go anywhere, I have to nag or arrange it all’.

So, here’s what I have asked couples to try and for the most part, I’ve heard great results back:

1) Buy 12 business size envelopes and write the name of each month of the outside. 

2) Divide the 12 envelopes between you and your partner; he might get January, March, May, July, September, November.  She might get the alternate months.

3) If he got a January envelope, the responsibility (and fun) of planning a date for January is his.  He puts the money or tickets into the envelope, he gets the babysitter arranged, he puts a map in, he calls and makes the reservation if needed.  She just needs to show up, be appreciative, and enjoy the day or evening.

4) Visa Versa in February.

5) Here are some great dates that some of my couples have come up with over the years, which range from outlandishly expensive to absolutely free (but creative):

– Money to buy ferry tickets from SF to Tiburon and back; ferry schedule; cash to have lunch at the Ferry Building; a map of Tiburon; money for an ice cream cone or Starbucks while wandering around that day; $20 to buy a book at a bookstore.

– 2 tickets on the Queen Mary 2 for a 12 day cruise in Europe, complete with a map of which countries you’ll be exploring

– Christmas Eve service at Grace Cathedral, money for the cable car to get there, cash for dessert at the Fairmont hotel afterwards, and home at 3 am (make sure the babysitter is spending the night!)

– A picnic at Angel Island and taking bikes along (this would include money for the ferry, a stop along the way to put the picnic together)

– A drive to Bodega Bay, wandering the shops, taking a long walk together, and watching “The Birds” on Netflix when you got back (it was filmed in the area back in the 60’s by Hitchcock).

You get the idea …some couples reserve the same weekend (or week night) of each month for “THE DATE” so the month doesn’t somehow get overscheduled and it never happens.  They have a babysitter lined up for the same evening for 12 months to insure that the day or evening doesn’t get cancelled because there is no one to stay with the kids.

If money is scarce or highly budgeted this year, exchange childcare with another family and encourage them to do their own dates in the same way and you’ll take care of their children on their date night.

One last note about “12 dates, 12 envelopes”:  in your envelope, when it’s your turn, write either a love letter, a quick love note, or a dream you have of something the two of you will do ‘someday’.  It can be as simple as, “Mary, we haven’t done a picnic together in 6 years – I am looking forward to just kicking back with you today and leaving our laptops and cell phones at home!”

The whole idea of this exercise is for you to remember why you originally fell in love with your partner — so don’t spend your date talking about the kids, your jobs, or the household budget!