Date Nights & Why I May Never Buy a Nook

The one consistency in our marriage, aside from the steady flow of diaper changing, feedings, the rhythm of nap times & bedtimes, is date night.
Joseph & I have made many sacrifices to ensure this happens on a regular basis.
We aim for once a week.
Sometimes it’ll be twice a week & then we’ll skip a week.  We average 3-5 dates a month.  Over a span of 7 years, this amounts to about 300 dates, more or less.
Since we’ve always been on a rather frugal budget with very little wiggle room our entire marriage, we have had to be creative.
I don’t mean we figure out ways to get free childcare or go on dates that cost no money, although we’ve done that.  What I mean is we figure ways we can trim expenses in other areas & generate extra income on the side so we have money to spend paying for a babysitter & being able to do things like go out to eat or go to a movie.
We figure going on good, quality, memorable dates (& paying for a babysitter) is still much cheaper than therapy or a divorce.
We like to think of any money spent going out with each other as marriage insurance.
More importantly, it’s fun!
Sure, it easier to look at your budget & say, we can easily cut back on expenses by staying at home & watching a movie.  But that can very well turn into just going to bed early, which is no date at all.
Joseph funded our date night fund during his undergraduate years (as well as this past year when he was unemployed) by donating plasma.  You know, you go, they take your blood, extract the plasma, then give you your blood back.  In return, you get paid $25 or $30.
I get queasy thinking about it (needles make me swoon & not in a good way).  Joseph has been a trooper about it.
He would go twice a week & in exchange we had an extra $200+  a month, to pay for a babysitter, go out to eat, go to plays, the movies, do whatever we wanted without the guilt, because we considered all of the money he earned from donating plasma as “free money.”
Now that he’s (finally!) an attorney & will be starting his career with JAG, these plasma days, happily, will be over.
Here are some of the things we’ve done.  
Shopping & Dinner.  One year, for my birthday, Joseph snuck behind my back & donated plasma without me knowing.  This was during law school when he was far too busy to donate.  He went when he could, for two months & saved up enough money to take me out to PF Changs (one of my fave restaurants), took me to the mall for some shopping (he gave me $150 to spend on whatever I wanted), & then out to a play.  How sweet is that?

Plays.  We’re theater lovers.  Fortunately, we live next to two universities & have easy access to professional-grade theater pretty much whenever we want, at an affordable price.
Some of the more memorable shows we’ve been to:
  • Music Man
  • Nutcracker Ballet
  • Midsummer Nights Dream (the ballet)
  • The Fantasticks & Big River (both at the Sundance Outdoor theater)
  • Tuesdays with Morrie
  • Peter Pan
  • Children of Eden
  • Hamlet
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Taming of the Shrew

We also love concerts, especially when they’re outdoor.  Here are some our faves:

  • Peter Brienholt (4 times), the most recent one was this past weekend, where the concert was held on the roof of a parking structure!
  • Mindy Gledhill
  • Ben Harper
  • Brooke White

Dollar theater.  For $1.50 a ticket, almost doesn’t matter what the movie is.  Joseph loves movies & isn’t as picky as me.  I can’t stand watching movies more than once (unless it’s As Good as Gets, Last of the Mohicans, You’ve Got Mail or Pride & Prejudice), but Joseph will watch the same movies over & over again.  

Spiderman, Iron Man, the Narnia series, the Harry Potter series, The King’s Speech–these are just a few of the movies we’ve gone to without the kids, & enjoyed.  Joseph’s a sucker for anything Nicolas Sparks (can you believe it?) & I enjoy a good tragedy or epic film.
Storytelling events.  We also love a good story & go to the our local storytelling festival every year.
Out to eat.  Yes, this one can quickly add up.
As such, we typically only go out to eat once or twice a month.  It’s not so much the food that we’re paying for.  It’s the experience, atmosphere, & the opportunity to be alone, away from our kids.
One of our favorite places is a little sushi/Chinese joint.
I get some amazing vegetarian sushi, miso soup, & authentic Chinese food (black mushrooms & Napa cabbage in a spicy sauce–yum!) & Joseph can get what he wants (99.9% of time time–some type of a beef something).
It’s funny because I’ll look at what Joseph is eating & say, “I can’t believe you’re going to eat that” (the whole plate is meat, where are the vegetables?) and Joseph will look at me & say, “I can’t believe you’re going to eat that” (he thinks mushrooms are disgusting & doesn’t care for tofu).  But we’re both happy because we each get something we enjoy, so it works.
A good Chinese restaurant (that doesn’t use MSG & uses fresh ingredients) is one the best places for us to eat because it offers something for both of us.  They have plenty of gluten-free, vegan options, lots of seaweed & mushrooms (ingredients I rarely use at home) for me, and a variety of meat dishes for Joseph’s taste.

Barnes & Noble.  I know, it may seem strange that going to a bookstore would be considered a date.

A date, for the record, is anytime Joseph & I are together without the kids.  That is a date.

Last weekend we went to the bookstore & decided it was time to get a few books to add to our collection. We don’t do it often, but a nice woman that I barely knew, gave me $100.  We decided we’d spend it on books & buy some for ourselves & a few for the kids.

This is what we bought:

  • The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
  • Ordinary People, by Judith Guest
  • Stories & Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages, by Harold Bloom
  • The Wind & The Willows, by Kenneth Grahame
  • A collection of novels by Ernest Hemingway
We flattered ourselves by buying the Harold Bloom book.  Isn’t that a brilliant title?  What parent wouldn’t want to rush out and buy that one?
I love the Wind & the Willows, a classic read for children.  We’re both Hemingway fans (love his terse prose) & we’re always trying to add to our “nice/classics” book collection, so this was an obvious choice.  The other two are highly acclaimed literary pieces I’ve been wanting to read for some time.
  Yes, we are a bit obsessed with books.  

It’s not just the reading of them, we like the idea of books.  The cover, the binding, the space that they take up.  (We have a book case/shelves in every room of our house, although we’ve packed much of that away since we’re getting ready to sale our house.)
(Side note:  here’s a great article on how to use used books to decorate your home).
Joseph says he’ll never buy me a nook reader.
He’s opposed to technology.  Not really, since he’s always on his Ipod doing who knows what, but that’s besides the point.  He likes the look of books, the feel of books.  He wants to be surrounded by books.  This is why he does not like the concept of the nook or any other e-reader.  He sees them as a threat to tangible books.
I agree with him, but I do find the concept of having so many books all in one place alluring.
Also, I should mention I don’t like to focus on only one book.  I like to have a stack of books on my shelf that at any given time & will go back & forth between several different books depending on my mood.  Joseph cannot understand this approach.  He reads one book & then moves on to the next.  I think it’s an exciting idea to have 200 or more books accessible at my fingertips.
Coming up this week:
  • 3 new workouts (including some Pilates)
  • a house tour (& some new furniture from Pier One!)
  • a review on a great new brand of cruelty-free mineral makeup
  • another protein powered recipe
Do you have a scheduled “date” night?  

What do you like doing together?
What do you do to make sure dates happen?  


  1. Pingback: It’s a Date | Frock Files

  2. Tia
    on May 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm said:

    Love these ideas! We make lots of time for each other, but that's easy since we don't have kids yet (I'm due in August). I have to disagree about the trips to the store though. One of our fun date nights is to go to Target and wander around. We think up ideas for our house, discuss dinner options for the week, browse through sale items, etc. We have a great time together. I think it's all about what the couple likes to do that is most important.

  3. Janae Wise
    on May 8, 2012 at 2:32 pm said:

    Melissa: I think working out with your spouse is very sexy. Joseph just started running for the 1st time in our marriage (prepping for bootcamp). I gave him a hug after he went running & he was sweaty! That's a rarity, kinda sexy :)Mattheworbit: Wow, so fun to have a reader all the way from Australia! Welcome, & thanks for stopping by. About the plasma, I know! Have you seen the size of those needles? I'm about to faint, just thinking about it….

  4. Mattheworbit
    on May 8, 2012 at 3:06 am said:

    What an interesting post on date nights! You guys really take it to the next level. As I said on Twitter, any man who is willing to donate plasma to fund a date night is clearly an awesome man.

  5. Melissa DeLeon
    on May 7, 2012 at 10:46 pm said:

    I have both a Nook and a Kindle. Love the Kindle more than the Nook, but Nook has more available titles, including more free books. (Bought one brand new at the store and the other at a Pawn Shop.) My Kindle is also available on my iPhone, which is AWESOME and allows me to read anywhere, at anytime (in line at a store, waiting room, etc), and it is always on the right page regardless of which one I pick up.I still love buying books, but I cannot DREAM of paying full price (or even percentage off) at Barnes & Noble for the average book. I borrow from the library (which allows for e-borrowing on Nook btw) or, my favorite, I buy second-hand. My favorite place is Goodwill, where I can get a small paperback for $.99, large paperback for $1.99 and hardback for $2.99. My complete line of Sophia Kinsella (Madeleine Wickham) is all Goodwill/second-hand. :)Oh… and I have NO PERSPECTIVE on date night, because I have one everynight. Spent last Friday night at the gym running a 5K on the treadmill and then doing circuit training with my date. Sexy, I know. 😉

  6. Janae Wise
    on May 7, 2012 at 9:35 pm said:

    Katie: Thank you so much for pointing out that going to Walmart or funerals ARE NOT dates. I think it's easy to get too casual about what constitutes a date. If you got really liberal, you could consider every night sleeping next to your husband a "date." A date for me is anything that is "special." This could be after the kids go down & my husband & I sit on the couch & just talk or read next to each other (& I interrupt him every 2 minutes to share something I've just read). We make sure to mix it up so that we're not always going to the movies or to dinner (we couldn't afford that anyway!) or staying at home. It is pretty sexy that Joseph would get stuck with huge needles (he has the scars to prove it, eck) twice a week so we could go on dates, huh? I've never thought of how an e-reader would make reading & nursing so much easier. I've given up trying to read while nursing w/ Salem because if I try to read she just bats at the book & doesn't eat. Another reason why an ereader would be a lovely thing. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Katie
    on May 7, 2012 at 8:50 pm said:

    It wasn't until we had our second kid that I realized why date nights are so essential to marriage. Now I am learning that REAL date nights are essential as well. Going to Walmart or a funeral is not a date 🙂 Money is tight and I never considered donating plasma – that is a great idea. Seriously, it is so romantic that your hubby was doing that.I am completely on board with you as far as ereaders go. I never wanted one and am a huge book lover. I told my husband that nothing can ever compare to turning pages, hefting the weight of the book in your hand, and the smell that old and new books have. But, I was given the Nook for my birthday from the inlaws and have a special place in my heart for it as well. It is really nice to use when nursing because you only need one hand, plus some books are outrageously cheap. However, real books can't be beat.

  8. Janae Wise
    on May 7, 2012 at 8:48 pm said:

    Joy: It's so true! It's about quality as well as quantity. We try to spend 15 hours a week together, just us, no kids. This isn't just dates, but time when kids are in bed. This is averages 2 hours a day, not too difficult with some time & effort.I'm with ya on the books, but I've never been one to think that I have to exclude things just because I have something else. I listen to podcasts but I still listen to radio. I watch YouTube videos but I also watch movies. I think I could do an e-reader & still read books in print….

  9. Joy
    on May 7, 2012 at 7:26 pm said:

    Date nights are so important! My parents are one of the happiest couples I know of, and they've always had a date night (at least) once a week. Relationships take time and effort, and I'm so happy to see a couple that's making this a priority. Re: books — I'll never be able to convert to an e-reader either! Although I used to design digital books, e-books just don't do it for me. I love the weight of books, the whole sensory experience of turning pages, having that stack of novels on my night stand. Cheers for real books!