At The Gottman Institute in Seattle, we have been engaged in an informal research study which has consisted of sadly looking out the windows and periodically turning up the thermostat. We have come to the following conclusion: Winter is coming. 

When your Vitamin D levels plummet and you start to feel like gray skies are permeating every last bit of your existence, don’t let your relationship become yet another storm cloud!

As Dr. Gottman says, “The foundation of my approach is to strengthen the friendship that is at the heart of any marriage.” Friendship, according to Dr. Gottman, is the key to romance!

In the interest of keeping the spark alive in your relationship when adventures outside stop being an option, we at The Gottman Institute would love to share an idea that has been making its rounds on the internet: Date Night in a Jar!

Get together with your partner this weekend and come up with a list of things you both want to try: local area restaurants, movies to go see or rent, events to attend, attractions to visit, firsts to experience together, etc. Keep it updated as new ideas are brought up in everyday conversation. Put these ideas on little scraps of paper or write them on popsicle sticks, as depicted above. Then place your date night ideas into a jar and save them for your next night out together! 

If “Date Night in a Jar” doesn’t really fit into the way that you and your partner interact, think of other ideas to surprise each other in a playful, romantic way. Remember: it is the small things done often that make the most difference in your relationship. You can introduce fun into your relationship in ways that feel more natural to you – every relationship is different! Perhaps you could surprise your love with tokens: a “kiss” token, a “massage” token, a “trip to the ice cream parlor” token…let your imagination run free!

You can give a sweet gift like this to your partner on any occasion, no need to wait for birthdays or holidays! Surprise them with something and rejuvenate your friendship and closeness. Creating great memories together and sharing laughter and joy will help the two of you to build affection and fondness for each other. As the two of you play and have fun with each other, trust and support in your relationship will naturally follow. 

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Weekend Homework Assignment: Date Night in a Jar

Ellie Lisitsa is a staff writer at The Gottman Institute and a regular contributor to The Gottman Relationship Blog. Ellie is pursuing her B.A. in Psychology with an emphasis on Cognitive Dissonance at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.