"We go on alphabet-themed dates."
Heather and Spencer Sokol
Married 14 years
Parents of Stacia, 13; Brenia, 8; and Lorelai, 5
Heather: Each month we plan a date that's based on a different letter of the alphabet, an idea I got from the book Alphabet Weekends: Love on the Road From A to Z, by Elizabeth Noble. For the letter C, we spent an afternoon at the local children's museum by ourselves. This gave us the opportunity to explore the exhibits our kids aren't crazy about, and it made us feel young again. We even rode the carousel together. For D, we spent "a day in downtown," in Indianapolis. I know alphabet dating sounds a bit goofy, but it gives us an excuse and an incentive to be together.
Spencer: When Heather first brought up the idea, I was skeptical. But I knew we needed to try something because the only time we ever spent as a couple was related to housework or the kids. Still, I was worried we'd spend more time planning dates than being together.
Heather: We had been so out of sync that Spencer didn't even share his concerns with me. But we dove in, desperate to try anything. Along the way, we've discovered that this exercise does involve planning, but in a good way. In between the dates, we plot out the next one as a couple. Even the elaborate plans -- like G for "getaway," when we drove to Chicago to see a musical comedy -- have been satisfying to pull off as a team. It's gratifying to come up with new ideas together, or even to revisit old ones. Next up is the letter M.
Spencer: The best part is getting to escape with Heather for a little while. Even if it's just a hike down a trail or a quick bite at a local dive, being able to get away from our responsibilities as parents without feeling guilty has been critical. We're now communicating better and laughing a lot more, and dating again has made for a lot of special moments.