The key to a happy, long-lasting relationship, according to numerous studies and psychologists, lies in one word: dates.
Professionals say the best way to bond is through shared experiences and spending time together, and suggest that you and your partner go on a date weekly.
While that might seem overwhelming, don’t feel daunted. The most important aspect of a date is just being together. According to the National Marriage Project conducted by the University of Virginia, husbands who reported spending quality time with their spouse at least once a week were 2.5 times more likely to stay together.
“Date night is an opportunity to connect and get to know each other’s hearts during enjoyable activity away from it all, where bonding can occur,” says Carol Corcoran, Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist in Severna Park.
Here are five creative, local date ideas to make this summer all the more meaningful and memorable:
Hone your Knife Skills
Nothing says romance like a quiet and scrumptious dinner in the comfort of your own home. Linda Heiss, owner of basil, garlic & rosemary (basilgarlicrosemary.com) in Annapolis, offers cooking classes and parties and has seen firsthand couples flourish by cooking together. “There’s magic in cooking together,” she says. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the first date or they’ve been married for 20 years. It’s a different way of communicating.”
If you’d prefer to get out and about for a cooking class, Anne Arundel Community College offers a variety of cooking courses, from an Introduction to Cooking class to Sous Vide at Home.
Give Dancing a Whirl
With wedding season upon us, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts (marylandhall.org) in Annapolis offers Ballroom Dancing and a class specifically focused on wedding dances. The classes focus on posture, dance hold, basic patterns & timing, partnership skills and expression of the dances. “Dance causes a closeness. For a couple it really helps to secure a bond,” says Jennifer Gooding, a professional dance instructor with the Annapolis Dance Academy and instructor at Maryland Hall. “Couples start off very awkward and evolve to looking smooth and confident. Dance forces them to work together as a unit, which is exactly what marriage is.” Gooding explains.
Swirl into Water Marbling
At Mix & Marble (mixandmarble.com), a cozy new watering hole in Severna Park, couples can connect over vino, create art by swirling dye in water and immerse products like scarves, handkerchiefs, headbands or wine bottle covers into the mix. “Couples love it. It’s interactive. The men get more involved than you think,” says Mix & Marble co-owner Jeni Kaline. “Some men say, ‘My wife wanted to do this; I’ll just have a beer.’ And then the husband ends up seeing what the wife makes and wants to make his own. Even if you don’t think you have an artistic bone in your body, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how many people stop you to find out who the designer is.”
Make Waves on the Bay
Spending time on the water is especially relaxing. Even without your own boat, you and your partner can take a cruise of Annapolis Harbor, Spa Creek or spend a day on the Bay going to St. Michaels. If you love water and music, go on a Watermark/WRNR Rock n’ River Cruise, which provides a romantic backdrop as the sun sets over the Severn River with live music from top local and national acts, cold cocktails and light fare, according to Robert Cardoni of sponsor WRNR FM. Check out cruisesonthebay.com for details on all of Watermark Tours’ on-the-water options.
Get your Swing On
Hit the driving range at Severna Park Golf Center (severnaparkgolf.com) in Arnold. For just $10 you can share a bucket of 100 balls. Before or after, a stone’s throw away, hit up Lemongrass Modern Thai for a tasty, authentic Happy Hour (3–6 p.m. weekdays) for affordable drinks and $5 appetizers.
Remember, it doesn’t have to cost money to be a good date night, in fact sometimes going on the cheap can be all the more creative and meaningful. Keep it simple. Sometimes just watching the sunset, or walking the shoreline is all you need.