Health

The romance dance

If you want to put that lovin' feeling back in your relationship, try these 17 great date ideas

You know that guy you live with? The one you’re committed to and the one you’re going to have committed if he doesn’t pick his dirty socks up off the floor? Think back to when he used to drive you crazy for reasons that had nothing to do with not taking out the garbage. For a return to that pre-mortgage bliss, try dating your spouse all over again. We looked to readers and experts alike to find great ideas for you to steal (we won’t tell). And if your love is endless but your schedule is limited, we have some tips on how even the busiest bees can make time for their honey.

Put the “Woo-hoo!” back in your relationship with a little wooing. After all, dating is not just about spending money; it’s also about paying attention to each other. So, try some close encounters of the physical kind—they’re free, fun and time-friendly, too:

Be a big ol’ flirt Wink, blow a kiss and show a little leg. If at first you get puzzled looks, try try again—or come right out and explain what you’re doing: “I’m showing you some affection, you big galoot!”

Play a kissing game There are lots of variations on a peck on the cheek. So, when you have the time—that’s what commercial breaks are for—try playing one of these tongue twisters from www.virtualkiss.com: Slow-Mo (pick a designated amount of time and kiss your partner as slowly as possible) or Secret Word (choose a word and every time you hear it, whether it’s for five minutes or over the course of an entire day, pucker up and plant one on each other).

Bring on the puppy love Go outside and write your initials in the snow, hold hands while standing in a checkout line or driving to work, or dust off some other innocent public ritual you used to engage in. Footsie under the table, anyone?

Let your love be noted When you can’t whisper sweet nothings in your lover’s ear, put them on a Post-it Note for his lunch bag or briefcase, along with a handful of cinnamon hearts or Hershey’s Kisses.

When you have as much time as an episode of ER

Even the infamous Dr. Ruth Westheimer is a proponent of dating your spouse. In her book Rekindling Romance for Dummies (Wiley), Dr. Westheimer recommends mini-dates for the time-pressed. “Whatever form your mini-dates take, the point is that they require setting time aside for just the two of you,” she says. So, take 60 minutes and turn it into something you’ll remember for hours afterwards:

Go go-karting Honestly. Some couples swear they rev up their love lives by going for a few laps around the track, especially now that indoor racetracks have become so popular. “Go-karting is something that only takes a short period of time but is so much fun because we’re together,” says Pam. “You get the day’s road rage out in a fun and safe manner, plus the adrenalin from racing around the track often carries over into the bedroom!”

Break for lunch The noon hour is a popular date time for couples who work or happen to be in the same vicinity. Brown bag, food-court or reserve it—whatever time allows. It’s a chance to reconnect in the middle of the day and remind both of you that there’s more to life than just work.

Get physical Playing sports is fantastic for generating some heat. Bring out the Tiger in you (Woods, that is) by heading to a driving range or playing a round of miniature golf. Or, follow reader Ayumi and her man’s example by registering for a team sport such as indoor floor hockey. As Ayumi says, “It’s a great way to bond because you’re working together and cheering each other on.”

Follow doctor’s orders Dr. Westheimer also recommends enlisting the kids to get involved in mom-and-dad time. Throw in a video and put the eldest in charge, then steal away to the car, where you can listen to the radio and indulge in some uninterrupted conversation.

When you have a few hours on a school night

Boredom can be like Botox to a relationship: the more it enters your system, the more it paralyses you. According to Steven C. Smith, author of Cheap Dates (Prima), “Too many routine dinner-and-a-movie outings can put you and your significant other in a dating rut.” So, when you need to rekindle the home fires, try these activities to get the sparks flying:

Go out on a lim-o Tour your town or out-lying areas in style by renting a luxury car and a driver for an hour. There’s a fiscal reason only hotshots can afford such a treat on a regular basis, but once in a while, it is a decadent (yet affordable) way to spend an evening. Depending on your neck of the woods, the hourly rate ranges from $50 to $150. Add to the splendour by packing hors d’oeuvres and some bubbly.

Walk away from it all Anyone who dated before driving knows that a simple walk can be very romantic, whether it’s along a beach or around the block. It may be chilly outside, but the weather will inspire lots of snuggling. Try strolling without having a set destination in mind, but pop a few loonies in your pocket in case you decide to stop for hot chocolate.

Get classy Sign up for an exotic cooking class, ballroom dancing or a wine tasting. Your local newspaper or continuing-education centre is likely filled with ideas for one-night and week-long events and courses.

Rub it in Many day spas offer couples’ packages that include tandem massages, private mineral baths or side-by-side pedicures. While it may be hard to convince your macho stud that having his toenails clipped by a stranger is luxurious, you might be able to lure him in with the words no kids allowed. Search for spas in your region at www.spalifeonline.com.

When time is no object

Make like Emeril and kick it up a notch. By adding a little more time or money, you and your sweetie can make things spicier, more exotic or just plain unforgettable:

Take your love to new heights When the weather gets warmer, go up, up and away in a beautiful hot-air balloon. With 11 locations across Canada, Sundance Balloons will organize the perfect day for two. Prices range from $145 to $225 per person. Check the Yellow Pages or visit www.sundanceballoons.com for locations.

Recreate a memorable date Relive the moment to a T or just visit the place where love bloomed. If your relationship has survived longer than the establishment, you can always find an alternate venue. Thanks to nostalgia, there’s probably a ’50s diner or an ’80s disco just a short drive away.

Make a love connection Even if you and your man can’t get it together—in the same city, that is—try a long-distance date. Rent a video or tune in to the same TV station to watch a flick together while talking on the phone.

Get a room Make out like newlyweds and check into a hotel. And if you want to go for the full shebang, make like Tina and her hubby and head to Niagara Falls. “Between our Gone with the Wind room and the Falls, it was an amusing and romantic getaway,” says Tina.

Try kidding around Why should the kids get to have all the fun? This month, check out a maple sugar camp or winter carnival. Visit www.finditincanada.ca to find seasonal events in your area.