AKP-NASHVILLE-46Photos by Ashton Kelley Photography

For those of you that don’t know the story behind Weeknight Date Night I’ll give you a quick recap. Anthony and I had a very eventful 2015. We got engaged in April, and we both started new jobs in May. On top of that, we were wedding planning and building our first home. After all the excitement of 2015, we started 2016 off by moving into our first home and getting married in April. After a year full of HIGHS we thought what’s next!

Anthony suggested we start to explore our new neighborhood and go to a different restaurant each week. Me being the creative one wanted to take it a step further. I suggested that we have a date once a week on a weekday to break up the monotony of the work week. My creative juices really got going and I suggested that we take turns on who selects the date. And just like that Thursday, June 2nd, 2016 was the first edition of Weeknight Date Night. We went to “Movies in the Park” to see Space Jam. Anthony practically begged to have the first Weeknight Date Night, and I later found out it was due to him finding out about movies in the park. This made his job of finding a date easy that first week. That has pretty much been the sentiment this first year. It’s taken Anthony a little more effort to come up with dates, but I’m impressed that he doesn’t give up. Don’t get me wrong I have my tough weeks, but I’m creative and it’s a lot easier for me.

I came out the gate blazing with my first date of field day in our backyard. I still remember the score (Hutch 65 – Stew 85). That started a string of competitive dates which included Top Chef Karaoke (both of us agree it was our favorite date so far), Goodwill Hunting (part I), rock climbing, I spy in the park and adult laser tag. At one point there were people screaming Team Hutch or Team Stew. I won’t say who won the most. Yeah right, who am I kidding, I DID!!!

Giving back is something that’s simply ingrained in my DNA, so we’ve had some dates centered around giving back which included, buying school supplies for students, going out in Nashville and passing out gifts and hugs to strangers, but the most powerful date was about discrimination. This date was pre-blog, but I wrote a letter describing how I previously discriminated against a Muslim. Anthony and I went to a mosque and delivered the letter to a Muslim man named Nile. The letter described the situation and my apology for my ignorance. In the envelope I included some money for lunch on us. We talked for about 15 minutes and really shared a connection. Nile told me he wanted to pay it forward and give the money to someone that needed it more than him. Anthony and I then drove around town and found a police officer having dinner. We sat down at his table and had an honest conversation with him about discrimination and how it doesn’t feel good to be discriminated against. Anthony wrote him a letter about being a black man in America. Just like with Nile, we gave Officer Ryan a card with money in it to have lunch on us. That date stuck with me for a while and as I write these words my body starts to react to the memories of that night.

As previously stated date night feeds the soul of our marriage. Without a doubt starting Weeknight Date Night has been the BEST thing we’ve done in this first year of marriage. It has impacted our marriage on so many levels. It’s built in quality time each week. It adds anticipation to our marriage. It ensures we invest in one another. Sure, most of the dates cost money (if it’s your date you must pay for the date), but what I mean by invest is we’re investing time and energy into constantly finding a new adventure to experience together. Not to mention the planning and preparation that goes into the dates. It helps with disagreements. This isn’t a Truth Tuesday post, but I must keep it real. We’ve had dates where we’ve had a disagreement while driving to the date, but the date forces us to put those feelings aside and have fun together.

What I’ve learned about Anthony through weekly dates is he’s committed! Of course you know that your spouse is committed to you before you get married, but are they committed enough to make time and have energy to invest in you weekly? As well as bi-weekly coming up with a new date. Just let that marinate for a second! In addition to having weekly date nights I’ve started a blog which highlights the dates. This means Anthony must once again be committed to me and my dreams! He wasn’t a picture person when we first met, and he’s really not now as far as taking his phone out and capturing a moment. But, with me blogging we must constantly step in front of the camera and shine. Can I just pause right here and give a shout out to our AMAZING photographers Ivory Door Studio! Those two are heaven sent!!! I realized I’m nothing without them lol. I don’t know how to pose unless they tell me what to do. Hey, I’m not ashamed to admit that. Okay, back to Anthony…he has become a pro in front of the camera and when I say hey we have a shoot on this day at this time he doesn’t complain he just says, “let me get clothes picked out”. Seriously, can a gal be anymore blessed?

I understand that everyone’s life is different and maybe weekly dates doesn’t work for everyone’s schedule. Who know how long we’re going to be able to keep this up? I’m just blessed and amazed we did it for a whole 52 weeks!!! I suggest all couples find time to DATE one another. Trust me, it will teach you things about your mate that you didn’t know or hadn’t stopped to realize. If you need ideas check my previous blog posts or head over to my person IG page (sheena_nichelle21) to see dates I posted before the blog was launched.

Without further ado, here are our lists of our top 5 dates from the first year of Weeknight Date Night!

Stew’s Top 5 Dates

  1. Top Chef Karaoke Date
  2. Discrimination Date
  3. Field Day Date
  4. Mixology Date
  5. Mom’s Birthday Date

Hutch’s Top 5 Dates

  1. Top Chef Karaoke Date
  2. Field Day Date
  3. Yoga Date
  4. Discrimination Date
  5. Target School Supply Date

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Until next time loves…