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!