Friday, June 13, 2014

7 Courtship Date Ideas

It's the weekend! After a long week at my internship, I am very blessed to be able to have this weekend to recuperate from the stress. Unfortunately for Marisa and I, I have to go to San Antonio, TX for a bonding road trip this weekend with another group of friends from a freshman orientation that we all participate in as counselors. We have so many happy memories from our dates together that we've had and I know we are going to make many more in the future.

In lieu of me posting something about the ideology of young courtship and marriage, I am going to give y'all 7 courtship date ideas for you and your significant other (or even spouse) to do! I use the word "courtship" in the sense that your date's objective is more to get to know the other person, rather than the "modern" dating talked about in many Christian books where intimacy and romance goes ahead of committing and knowing your partner. It's my hope that these date ideas genuinely bless you and help you get to know your date or spouse better!

1. Go to the Beach!

Relaxing at the beach in Galveston!
Like I talked about in this post, going to the beach in Galveston, TX with Marisa was amongst the happiest experiences of my life because I truly felt relaxed and connected with her. What I recommend you do is if you live near a beach (or even a lake), leave your house early on Saturday or Sunday morning and plan to spend the whole day with your date or spouse at the beach or in the beach town. In addition to going to the beach, Marisa and I ate at "The Place," a famous restaurant on the island, we went to the boardwalk and rode rides and played some games, we went shopping at "The Strand" stores for fun souvenirs, and we got our fortunes read by one of the robotic fortunes machines. This date was a little pricy overall, but there are ways you can reduce the cost of the trip if you don't do everything we do and just relax.

What you'll need:
  • Money (I'd say about $20-$60 depending on what you plan on doing and for parking)
  • Food (if you want to pack your own lunch and snacks instead of eating out)
  • A swimsuit and a change of clothes
  • Lots of sunscreen, sunglasses, and perhaps even an umbrella
  • A towel
  • A lawn chair to sit on
  • A happy, relaxed attitude
2. Go to a Museum!

If you love art, history, or science, a trip to a local museum is the thing for you and your partner! Reach a mutual agreement on one or two museums to attend during the day or let each person pick one to go to together. You can learn a lot about the person you are dating or married to by their choice of museum. For instance, I know if I asked Marisa what museum she would want to go to in Houston, she would say in a heartbeat that she wants to go to the Museum of Fine Arts. She loves art and can spend hours in the museum closely observing the detailed brush strokes of the art on display. This didn't just teach me that Marisa loves art, but she also pays fine attention to detail. I am a big picture type of guy, so I like looking at a painting for about a minute or so and move on. She encourages me to slow down and actually look at all the precise details and helps me slow down and "smell the roses." I love her and am so grateful to her for helping me appreciate the details in life!

What you'll need:
  • Money for entry to the museums and parking (check ahead of time to see what the cost is and if there are any discounts or free days)
  • Food or money for food at the museums or at a restaurant
  • Patience... you may not be as fascinated by every piece of art or display as your partner is, so it's important to show him or her that you care enough to stay with them and continue observing whatever they find fascinating
3. DIY Dinner at Home!

Going out can be really expensive. That's why Marisa and I cook a lot for ourselves whenever she comes over to my apartment for an evening date. (Actually, she cooks and I do the dishes because my cooking skills include pouring cereal and not setting hot pockets on fire.) Cooking dinner with your partner can be a perfect way to get to know your partner over a home-cooked meal, as well as learn what roles you and your partner naturally fall into in the kitchen if you are still dating. For instance, I know Marisa will basically always cook and that I'll basically always help and do the dishes. DIY meals are the best, too, because there is nothing more satisfying than sharing the food that you cooked with the person that you love.

What you'll need:
  • Ingredients for your recipe
  • Candles for a romantic dinner
  • Music for cooking and dinner
  • A smoke detector in case things go awry
4. Go on a 'Selfie'  Adventure
Example of a random selfie!

You can do this however you want. You can drive around town to a bunch of different locations, but I actually highly encourage that you and your partner walk around downtown or another fun area to do this. You can eat out if you wish, but basically the idea behind a selfie adventure is that you and your partner can be together, learn a lot about each other and the community, and take funny photos of yourself. It's the perfect date idea to have a lot of fun and make great memories together (in the form of hilarious selfless). Lord only knows how many selfies Marisa and I have on our phones as a couple. Maybe over 500, and we've only been dating for a little over 9 months!

What you'll need:

  • A camera or camera phone
  • Money if you plan to buy anything while out on your adventure
  • A good sense of humor and your beautiful smile
5. Babysit for a Couple with Kids

You're probably thinking that this date doesn't sound like a lot of fun, but personally I think it'll teach you invaluable lessons about your significant other that you need to learn, especially if you are still dating. This idea is adapted with inspiration from a courtship date idea Joshua Harris wrote about in Boy Meets Girl. Marisa and I haven't done this yet, but we want to at some point. It's easy for people to say how they want to raise their kids and it's easy to think someone is going to be a good parent, but until you or your significant other is responsible for kids, it's hard really to say how someone is around children. By babysitting kids, you'll learn how you and your partner share responsibility with children, how you and your partner treat children, and how you and your partner discipline children (to an extent). If you find that during the course of the evening you and your partner are having conflicts with how to take care of the children, you may want to talk to them more extensively some point about the evening and their goals of how they want to raise a family (if you both want a family, of course). Personally, I think if everything goes well, it could be a really fun evening, too! I love kids. They are full of energy and an inspiration for what God wants us to be like... more mature, but have the heart and love of a child. 

What you'll need: 
  • A couple that needs a babysitter for an evening--please bless them and babysit free of charge
  • Patience... kids can be a little hard to deal with sometimes
  • Observation--be sure to watch how your partner handles kids
  • Responsibility--if you don't know how to change a diaper or handle children, perhaps try learning these skills before you get put into a situation where you have to do this
6. Work on a Mutual Project

Marriage is basically a team sport that lasts for a life time. When you get married (or if you already are), in order to accomplish anything effectively you and your spouse need to work together. This date idea is inspired by one of the dates on this blog which recommends couples work on a mutual project together. If one of you have some house-keeping project at your house or need to do yard work, you should do it together and make a date of it, keeping each other company while doing a seemingly meaningless task. You could also do something more creative, like write a story, write a song, work on a scrapbook, or something else that would require you both to creatively contribute. It's good, in my opinion, to develop a healthy teamwork dynamic as a couple early in the relationship.

What you'll need: 

  • A task to do
  • Commitment to the task
  • Other supplies per task needs
7. Go to a Local Church or Study the Bible or a Christian Book Together

This is something that's REALLY important in my mind that all Christian couples do together during courtship and while married. We all need fellowship. If you aren't plugged into a local church or you are but want to try something new, perhaps you and your partner can attend a different church and see what it's like. Talk about the experience over lunch after the service. Coming in at number 5, this blog recommends that couples attend a Bible study together. That's a good option too! Part of our job in marriage is grow deeper individually and as a couple in our love and service to Christ. Encourage your partner or spouse to go with you on this journey. Marisa and I have been blessed to attend Ecclesia in Houston these past few weeks. Ecclesia is a new church for both of us and I am truly blessed with what I am learning there with her.

In closing I want to clarify why going to church came in as #7 on my list and not #1. First of all, I wrote down 7 courtship date ideas because 7 is God's perfect number. Secondly, I put going to church at #7 on the list to reemphasize that point. In my mind, going to church really shouldn't be a date, but a habit, and unfortunately I know it's not a habit for everyone. Marisa and I did not attend church regularly at the begging part of our relationship, and that's something I personally regret. I've grown more with her in the months we've attended church and made God a priority in our lives. God's perfect number is 7, and his perfect plan for us and for all is marriage. Marriage is not a broken institution... people are broken. God has a plan and instructions on how to grow to love and how to mature spiritually. Making courtship a top priority in your dating life will please God and will give you more of an opportunity to serve him and serve your partner. 

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