We were recently asked to review a new book available on Amazon titled, 52 Uncommon Dates, A Couple’s Adventure Guide For Praying, Playing And Staying Together, by Randy Southern. And we are so glad we were asked. This book is excellent. It offers 52 creative dates that will work for any couple on any budget. And the thoughtfulness going into each date is extensive. There is The Music Date, The Water Date, The Arcade Date and The Cemetery Date to name a few. Yeah, you read that right, and we’re not going to explain that one. You’ll have to get the book and discover what it’s about for yourself. But let me say, I love it! (Click on the image above to purchase your own copy, or see NOTE below).
With each date Randy provides a Scripture verse, a quote by Gary Chapman (author of The Five Love Languages), how to set the scene, make it happen, and finish strong. He ends each chapter connecting the date to one of the 5 love languages. It’s a great resource for any couple who wants to grow in the area of romance through regular dates.
(NOTE: At the end of this post we are sharing how you can win a copy of 52 Uncommon Dates for yourself. So don’t miss it!)
We had the privilege to interview Mr. Southern and this is what he had to say:
1. How long have you been married?
I have a two-part answer. I married Ann Sorensen on May 11, 1991. She died of breast cancer on October 28, 2005. I married Holly Halvorson on July 31, 2010, and we’re still going strong. So my answer is 14 years and 4 years.
2. How did you come to see the importance of continuing to date your wife?
As a writer, I’m driven by the notion that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing creatively. That goes especially for building a relationship. Why settle for the same old date-night routine when there are so many options available?
I’m convinced that mystery and surprise are two of the most useful tools on the marital workbench. I’ve found that using them judiciously when planning time with my wife heightens our experience together. I want my wife to be able to depend on me in every situation, but I don’t necessarily want her to be able to predict what I’m going to do next.
3. What are some of your favorite dates in the book?
There’s a reason The-First-Time-for-Everything Date leads off the book. I like the idea of spending an entire evening trying things you’ve never tried before. Good things happen – spiritually and relationally – when we step outside our comfort zones.
I also have a soft spot in my heart for The Photography Date. Not only does it open the door to all kinds of creative interaction, it also gives the couple souvenirs of their time together.
4. What’s the craziest or most meaningful date you and your wife have been on?
Unless going to see people like Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan or John Prine in concert qualifies as “crazy,” I’m afraid most of my dates with Holly have been decidedly sane. But I can address the question of our most meaningful date. First, though, a little background.
Holly and I met and became friends at Taylor University in the late 1980s. After graduation, we went our separate ways and lost contact … until the advent of Facebook. In the interval, I moved from Indiana to the Chicago suburbs; got married; started a family; lost my wife to breast cancer when our kids were 7, 5 and 4; learned how to be a single parent; and did freelance writing when my parenting duties allowed it.
Holly moved a few times; went to grad school; dated someone for 15 years, but never got married; pursued a career – first as a school psychologist and then as a children’s librarian; and built a successful life for herself.
After our Facebook reunion, we started dating long-distance. That turned into an engagement, which necessitated a move from the Chicago burbs back to Indiana. We got married in 2010.
Last year, Holly and I took the kids back to Taylor University, the place where we met. The five of us explored the campus while Holly and I told our college stories. Even though the kids were present, I consider that a date because there was a definite romantic vibe to the day. I consider it especially meaningful because it gave a certain context to our relationship, remembering how we came to know one another. It also gave the kids a sense of our history and strengthened us as a family.
5. You’ve incorporated Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages in your book. Can you tell us if there are date ideas for all five love languages included in your 52 dates?
I can tell you the book was specially designed to incorporate all five love languages. Each love language is represented by at least ten different date ideas.
6. Finally, what would you say to a couple who have small children and are overwhelmed with the thought of adding one more thing, like regular date nights, to their calendar?
First, I would tell them that their feelings are valid, because parenting small children is an overwhelming task.
Second, I would ask them to think in terms of investment. In today’s economy, budgets – especially those of young couples – are stretched tight. Such a couple could be forgiven for looking at their monthly financial outlay and deciding that they have nothing left over to invest.
Financial planners, though, would call that a shortsighted approach – not to mention a missed opportunity. They would urge the couple to free up some money in their budget to invest – even if it’s just a small amount at first, and even if it means sacrificing in another area. The long-term benefits of investing something every week are just too important to ignore.
The same goes for dating. Like our budgets, our calendars (and energies) are stretched tight. We may have trouble finding the time (and effort) to plan regular date nights. But that, too, is a shortsighted approach. We need to think in terms of investing in our relationship. A little time set aside every week for romance and fun will pay serious dividends later.
I love his idea of “investing in the long-term benefits of the marriage”. How often we get short-sighted and miss what’s of most importance in cultivating a healthy marriage.
If you would like a chance to win a free copy of this excellent book, simply comment on this post with the number of years you’ve been married and whether or not you are currently “investing” in your marriage with regular date nights. We’ll select a winner on Friday, August 8th. Good luck!
14 years. And we’ve had our ups and downs like any couple. We don’t do date nights, but we do enjoy a quiet dessert together most nights after our daughter has gone to bed…
We’ve been married for 28 years and invest in our marriage with date nights. We now live and work in Asia. My daughters have made Friday nights their girl’s night. They can stay up late and watch movies and play together. They know Friday nights are our time together. There are many Friday evenings that we just go to our room and have a home date. It is so important to us that we had to find a way to do it even here.
Hi friends! In less than 2 weeks my wife and I will have been married for 15 years. I’m amazed she’s tolerated my shenanigans for so long. We are at best “intermittent investors” in our marriage. We can justify why it’s not more consistent with many well practiced excuses. This site and your app has been a blessing in deepening our dates nights. We love you guys!
We have been married 22 years. We are indeed continuing to invest in out relationship by dating. We try to date weekly and I thoroughly believe the practice, and it is a practice, to be instrumental in helping me become a better spouse and build a better marriage.
I’ve been married for 6 years. I used to date my spouse regularly, but the arrival our new baby has brought fresh challenge to that routine!
been married 52 years and have really gotten out of good habits that we used to have. We need a boost to renew our fun times.
In 19 days Donna and I will be celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary. We struggle to have very irregular date nights with raising a 7 month old, 3 yr old, and a 6 yr old. Most dates are relaxing on the couch in the quiet of a house full of sleeping children.
Mark and I will be celebrating 24 years together this December. I would say that we have “semi-regular” date nights 🙂 Since both of our kids graduated from High School this past May, we are looking forward to MORE couple time now! I’m hoping to win a copy of the book — but if not, will definitely be buying a copy!!
We have been married for 15 years. We have not had a date night in over 6 months. We are past due!
Drew and I have been married for 30 years. In the last couple of months, we’ve slacked off on our weekly planned date nights, but we’ve taken two out-of-state non-business trips together during that period and had a great time.
We’ve been married 13 years, and while we don’t have time blocked off on our calendar for regular date nights, we seem to be able to pawn the kids off on family and get away by ourselves every week and a half on average. Though, some creativity and intentionality would be a valued addition. We have about two date templates. We either go to out to game nights at stores or with friends, or we go to a restaurant and watch a sporting event. There’s a few movies thrown in now and then, but basically, we’re predictable, and I’d rather not be.
That was helpful and my wife and I are dating regularly and planning vacation dates and weekend getaways frequently. Thank you for sharing. I hope I win this book. We have been married two years on August 26th
I’m glad I read this…And grateful to my husband for really finding ways to date me out 🙂
We have been married for 26 years. Since the kids have been old enough to stay home alone, we try to get out at least twice a month, even if it is part of our regular shoppping trip
23 years and yes we are investing in the “us” at least once a month!
Making it last forever
My husband and I have been married 4 years and make sure to budget 1x per month for a date night. Our kids are older and can be left alone. It would be nice to incorporate more creativity and mystery into the dates.
Just recently bought this book and have already used two of the ideas in it. We really love the uncommon dates; things we wouldn’t normally think of. What we really love is not just the idea, but the explanations, suggestions, and quotes around it. Highly recommended!
We’ve been married for 5 months on Friday! And we have a date night every Tuesday!
We have been married for 13 years and we are very invested in our marriage (which are remarriages for us both). We have date nights and are always looking for ways in our daily lives to enhance our relationship. This sounds like a great resource for us!
5 years, we do our best to but sometimes it gets hard on a budget and with kids.
I am engaged at the moment. The wedding is a few months away. This review intrigued me and I am eager to read this book now because I would like to get our marriage started off on the right track. Really hoping to win this book 🙂