Dating outside the box {with a Date in a Box}

David walks through the door around 5:15 pm after leaving for work before Abby and Micah are awake for the day, and I can only imagine the look he sees on my face. No, it’s not adoration. Not sexy smolder (he’s lucky if I’m out of yoga pants). But, pure, genuine relief. Another adult is present to direct the chaos of the witching hour(s). Exhaling, I know he will be tackled by Micah, immediately drawn into a project or long story by Abby, and serve as a willing distraction while I collect my patience, fortitude, and whatever is left of the dinner plans.


He is as close to my knight in shining armor in these moments as in any other. I adore him.

And, yet, it is with a schedule like this that we have floundered during different seasons of marriage to find US. To pursue one another. To engage in a way that reminds us of why we each fell in love in the beginning.

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Most of us have a list of excuses. Babysitting costs. Work schedules. Side hustles. Homework. Volunteer commitments. Travel. Perhaps those excuses go even deeper. Perhaps those excuses have made yawning cracks in the bridge that is marriage. One hot Sunday afternoon this summer we had an honest conversation where we were so brave as to admit that we didn’t quite recognize each other any more. We have been married for nearly 12 years and friends for even longer. Clearly though, infertility, job insecurity, finances, deaths in the family, and children have changed both of us. We are both stronger. More resilient. We met as teenagers and are now adults. We’ve grown up, and it was time for our grown-up selves to fall in love all over again. To wander down those deep cracks and then hold hands as we climb back out together.

It was time to relearn how we each needed to be loved. Relearn how we both tick. Talk again about our changed dreams, our hopes, and the things that perhaps have colored our worlds since we got married on Christmas break our junior year in college. He was 20, and I was 18. I was planning on single-handedly changing the world. So there was that. And there is now: two children, more than a decade of time, and what feels like a world of memories and decisions later.

In a blog post this summer, Ann Voskamp wrote:

How we receive each other’s reach — eventually determines if we ever get to hold each other’s heart.

I make him coffee and we make time, (and it has to be made), to simply listen and linger. Find a seat on the porch. Watch the zinnias, the tomatoes, the sunflowers grow. He sits more. I ask more questions. We find each other’s eyes. Steam rises from the coffee. Sunflowers reach for the sun.

The together life is messy and it is hard and it is broken and we are all that — and there is no perfect and there is no easy, and when I think that, it can be hard to breathe.

But — when I think this? When I rest in the essence of marriage being only and simply this — there’s the unhurried rhythm of hope:

Marriage is a long reach in the right direction. 

That together life. I want it to be extraordinary. The slow, soft moments. The chaotic bedtime routine ones. The beautiful moments. The sexy ones. The “I’m-going-to-vomit.-Will-you-watch-the-kids?” ones. And all the messy moments in between that. I want to keep reaching in the right direction. Stumbling out of the broken places hand-in-hand. Learning the rhythm of the everyday.

And, so, we committed this fall all over again to pull together in the same direction. I may be an entrepreneur, and he may be a steady engineer. I may need to talk out my problems like a washer worries the clothes – back and forth, back and forth, round and round – until my thoughts resemble something clean and presentable. His thoughts may be more like the clothes that slowly sway and dry in the sun, hanging from the line before they can be folded neatly and presented.

But we are finding each other and learning each other. Laughing. Crying. Drinking whiskey. Making love. Dating. IMG_5077.JPG

So perhaps if you are like us and going out on dates is a stretch for your schedule and your babysitting budget, perhaps you too would enjoy Date Night in a Box. Choosing a night of the month to have a date night in is one of our small steps to make marriage work NOW even with two Little Ones and opposite work schedules. It doesn’t hurt that you get to hang out in pajamas if you want and pay much less for cocktails, am I right?


And the boxes make planning the evening so simple. Each box has an accompanying Spotify playlist, optional menu, table talk questions, and an activity. Our “Painted with Love” box turned out to be a winner, as David meticulously created an impressionist landscape, while I turned to spray paint for my creation. We are clearly learning quite a bit about each other even after all these years.


IMG_4997And one of the best parts of the box? Friday night sept into Saturday morning which bled over into the entire weekend. After tapas and painting on Friday night, I found myself bringing David waffles in bed on Saturday. He made it possible for me to go on a long training run, and then hung shelves for me later in the day. There was a gentle slowness about our weekend. A sweeter stillness and mindfulness.


So, whether a date night out on the town is your jam or you need an out-of-the-box option for dating your partner, don’t shy away from falling in love all over again. It is hard. It is brave. And it is extraordinary. This process of making the ordinary loving and living into an act of reaching together.

Interested in checking out Date Night in a Box? Click HERE to use my referral code to grab your first box. October is sure to be a cozy month!


First two family lifestyle portraits captured by Haven Life & Photo.


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