Dating, especially if you’ve been doing it with the same person for (literally) a decade, can get monotonous. A typical date for me and my husband would involve a movie in Powerplant/Greenbelt and/or dinner in Cibo/a Japanese restaurant. When Cruz was born 5 years ago, Emman and I instituted weekly date nights (mainly to keep our sanity), but not much changed in terms of our activities.
While living in Singapore for a year, yes, we sometimes still fell into the dinner and movie trap. But since we wanted to explore the city, we made it a point to do something new on date nights. From exploring a new stop on the MRT line, to going to the ArtScience Museum or biking at East Coast Park, our dates became more fun as we bonded over a physical activity or a new discovery and not over a bucket of popcorn while staring at a movie screen and gingerly holding (oily) hands.
So when we moved back to Manila, we decided to continue the “creative dating” tradition. First on our list: enroll in french language lessons. Emman took up french in college and when we visited Paris 2 years ago, he got to use some of it (i.e. he would speak to the ticket booth guy in french, ticket booth guy would reply in english, Emman in french again, french guy in english. It was hilarious.) But after a few days, I too, fell in love with the language. There’s just something about the sound of french. Listening to it feels like wading in a pool of warm decadent chocolate. Le swoon.
We now attend basic french classes for 3.5 hour sessions twice a week at Alliance francais de Manille. The facilities and classrooms are clean and modern with large windows to let the sunlight in. There’s a cafe downstairs that serves good food and coffee. The course materials are excellent and relevant for everyday use. Lessons are presented in a high tech way too. The whole course is accessed by the instructor on her laptop via an interactive platform and is projected onto the board with all the recordings played from the screen. I’m enjoying it so much that I’m seriously considering going through all the 7 language modules.
I must admit though, that being classmates with my husband gets on my nerves sometimes. We were never in the same class in college but if you know Emman from school, you’d know that he was a teacher’s pet. He’s the first to volunteer and the first to ask a question. He sometimes also takes it upon himself to correct a classmate’s answer. Super star talaga. On the other hand, I’m the exact opposite. Teachers hardly remember my name. I’m quiet in class but it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m paying attention. However, if I get asked a question, I always know the answer. I like studying on my own and I do all my homework on time. I also get good grades. So you’d imagine my eye-rolling (in my head lang naman) during our first session. But then I must admit that after a few days, I started to appreciate his enthusiasm and to admire his ability to keep his attention span for almost 4 hours without having to check his phone or doodle on his notebook. If I were a teacher, I wouldn’t mind busting my butt off at a (most of the time) thankless job if I had students like him who are genuinely interested in learning all. the. time. His attitude really inspires me (naks) to do better and pay more attention in class. It’s also great that I got to see a side of him that I never really saw firsthand before, thanks to our creative dating effort.
Here are some other reasons why I love creative dating:
1. We’re forced to put away our phones.
Note: Instagramming while biking is hazardous to your health.
2. We provide opportunities to learn something new about each other.
When my husband “taught “me how to ride a bike in Singapore (yes, I learned how to ride a bike at 29), he found out what my learning style is: show me how it’s done once then leave me alone to figure it out for myself. He and the kids cheered me on from afar, though.
3. We can get fit together.
I introduced my husband to yoga via a week of free trial yoga classes. We burned calories off as Emman discovered the joys of sun salutations. He wants us to go rock climbing and ballroom dancing next. Good luck to me and my uncoordinated body.
4. Learning something new together is fun and benefits our marriage.
We get to practice a new skill with each other and bounce off ideas and thoughts about what we’re learning together. This fosters a really good feeling of “being in the same page”, something I think most husbands and wives lose over the years as they pursue their own interests during “me time”.
5. We have an option to spend less.
A “traditional” movie and dinner date can set you back as much as Php2000 to Php2500, depending on where you eat. Renting (or borrowing) a bike costs WAY less. Just make sure you’re insured.
However, alternative activities can also be more expensive (e.g. taking french classes) but…
6. The money we spend is spent more wisely.
Learning a new language, or gaining a new skill is a better investment than spending your hard earned money on yet another bowl of ramen (not to mention how much one needs to spend even more money for a gym membership to burn off calories from said bowls of ramen).
7. Being adventurous takes us out of the bubble that is our own life.
After 5 years of marriage, I sometimes feel like life revolves around chores – going to the grocery, giving the kids a bath, homeschooling – that I tend to forget that there’s a world outside the 5 kilometer radius around my house. Going out of my comfort zone makes me realize that there are infinite possibilities out there. Sometimes the only thing that’s keeping us from seeing that fact is because we don’t do something new, or go someplace we’ve never been before.
Alliance francaise de Manille
209 Nicanor Garcia St., Bel-Air II,
Makati City, Philippines 1209
What creative date ideas do you have up your sleeve? I’d love to hear them!