Jo is the author of Jo, My Gosh! a blog about her journey as a newlywed military wife. When she’s not working from home, she’s writing, reading, trying new recipes, watching sports or cross stitching. Catch her on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook and say hi!
Before we were married, my husband and I had only spent 15 consecutive days together. That was when he came home for half a month for R&R during his year-long deployment to Afghanistan… and we had already been engaged for 8 months. We had always been in a long-distance relationship– from dating to “Will you?” to “I do.” And we didn’t live together before we got married. There was a little bit of culture shock, of course, when we moved in together. But it was awesome.
I mean that. It was– and still is– awesome.
We learned how to work together, we learned (well, we’re still learning) how to split chores, how to communicate with each other. John learned that I hate it when towels aren’t folded and hung up in the bathroom. I learned that he has a particular way of stacking the dishwasher just so. And we both learned that we are terrible at actually saying what we want. We’d rather make each other happy, so we end up playing a very passive game of “What Do You Want to Do? Well, What Do YOU Want to Do?”
So this spring, we instituted Selfish Date Days. In essence, we each pick activities for a day that we each want to do– without thinking of the other person. That’s right, we’re encouraging each other to be selfish.
And it’s been awesome, too.
We’ve done things together that we never would have done if we would have left it up to our collective decision-making. We’ve hiked down to an 80-foot waterfall in the Blue Ridges. We’ve seen a black bear in the wild. We’ve tried glass fusing (which we’d never even heard of before). We’ve explored an 18th Century town and ate award-winning cherry pie on the porch of a general store. We’ve visited a craft beer festival and got pedicures at a chocolate spa (in two separate days, of course). We’ve done a candy bar tour of a town we visited (just think about a bar tour, except with candy stores instead of bars and truffles instead of beer). We’ve seen a glass-blowing demonstration and painted our own Christmas ornament.
What makes it so much fun is that we’re forcing each other to expand our horizons and go beyond our comfort zones. We’re surrendering our preconceptions and our preferences and putting our trust in each other. Even though we have so many interests in common, we rarely pick things that we both would stereotypically enjoy for our day.
And it’s been a boatload of fun. It’s fun because we both go into each other’s days ready for an adventure and with a positive attitude. It’s fun because we’re getting to share something we like to do– or something we’ve wanted to do for awhile– with the other.
Here’s how to pull off your own Selfish Date Days:
Each person gets a day.
There has got to be equality in the planning of the date days. John and I both have to have planned and executed our days before either of us gets another date day to plan.
Set limits ahead of time.
Make sure that both of your calendars are clear for whatever amount of time you’ll need. Have a talk about what the budget should be and if there are any concerns– like travel time.
You have to do what you want.
Listen to what you want to do– not what you think your partner would put their stamp of approval on. This isn’t the time to be valiant and a knight in shining armor. The whole point of the day is to do what you want to do without thinking about what the other person wants. It doesn’t have to be an expensive day– if you want to watch the entire Star Wars series from the comfort of your couch, go for it– but it does have to be a day that you want.
For one of my days, I picked going to a chocolate spa and getting pedicures. When I say chocolate spa, I mean chocolate spa. There was a chocolate buffet. Hot chocolate. Chocolate foot scrubs. And of course, it was just the tiniest bit girly. But John went into it wholeheartedly because he knew it was something that I genuinely wanted to do and because he knew that I would keep up my end of the bargain by going whole-hog into his day.
You both have to be game.
No matter what the other person has planned, you’ve got to be enthusiastic and ready to try it. You have to exercise your generosity of spirit. Seriously, no copping out and no whining. No passive-aggressively getting the other person to change their plans. You don’t get to say, “That’s not manly enough,” or “Girls don’t do this.” And unless you are allergic to the food that your partner has suggested you try, you don’t get to turn your nose up at any of it. Not a darn thing. It’s so much better if you just let the day play out. Really.
Case in point: I hate, hate, hate hiking. I was considering breaking the rules and complaining about John’s choice of macho, rugged activity because I just hate it that much. I sucked it up and (even though I was terrified of the outcropping we were standing on) saw how beautiful the waterfall was and enjoyed the adventure that we had together. We’re planning on going back in the next few weeks before it gets too cold.
You call the punches. On everything.
There’s no, “Eh, I’m not sure what to do for lunch.” Even if you haven’t planned it out ahead of time where lunch is, you get to pick. Part of the day is about learning how to be assertive and say what you want to do. So pick it… and be confident in your decision.
And if your choice is terrible (and believe me, John and I have chosen some doozies during our date days), it adds to the stories you both can tell. Remember that awful restaurant where it took 40 minutes to get water? What about that time you stayed in a bed and breakfast right next to train tracks… and you woke up thinking there was an earthquake? Remember that beautiful sunset… with no cell phones to interfere with it? Those are some of our stories. And we’re excited for our next adventure together.
What would you do on your day? I’d love to hear your plans! (And live vicariously through them!)