Relationship hacks: 7 awesome date night ideas that bring the fun front and center


Want a relationship that not only lasts but gets better and better as you go along? Without a doubt, one important ingredient is regularly-scheduled date nights. Contrary to popular belief, date nights aren’t just for people who are dating! What starts out as a normal and frequent part of every relationship becomes an endangered species once a few years and children and pile up.

It’s worth pointing out the “scheduled” part of regularly-scheduled is key here. Don’t expect to magically “find” time. You’re more likely to have an errant asteroid hurtle through Earth’s atmosphere and magically “find” your house. Think about it: if you need to have an important meeting with a client, you don’t wait to magically bump into them at a coffee shop — you schedule it! We schedule all the important stuff in our lives, and this is as important as it gets.

Ok, now that we have that squared away, what are you going to do on this freshly scheduled date night? Dinner and a movie? Oh hells no. That’s exactly what Adultitis will be expecting. And besides, you deserve better than that.

Here are some killer ideas to do instead:

1. Revert to Childhood. Go do something that kids like, but don’t bring kids. Go to the zoo, feed the goats, and take in a sea lion show. Visit an amusement park or a video game arcade or a haunted house. Heck, even a park with good old fashioned human-powered swings will do the trick.

2. Go on a Penny Date. When you have a map to anywhere and GPS in your pocket, it’s really hard to get lost. That’s too bad, because sometimes getting lost can lead to great adventures. So get all gussied up and and grab a penny. Get in the car and let your partner choose a number between 10 and 20. This will be the number of times you flip the penny. Pull out of the driveway and begin your adventure. Heads is right, Tails is left. Every time you come to an intersection, flip the penny and turn the corresponding direction. Once you get to the number your partner picked at the beginning, stop. Look around. Make a date where you are.

3. Mystery Meal. Pick a random cookbook off the shelf. Flip to a page. Each person gets two “vetoes,” but otherwise the random recipe becomes a grocery run and combo cooking adventure!

4. Pick a Fight. For some reason, playful fighting is a great way to flirt, which of course, often leads to other good things. So have a pillow fight. Or a popcorn fight. Or a water balloon fight. Or a snowball fight. You get the idea. (Just don’t have a frozen water balloon fight.)

5. Learn Yourself Something. Take a fun class together. Something like glass blowing, painting, cooking, photography, ballroom dancing, underwater naked basketweaving (I’m not here to judge). Pick something neither of you has ever really done before. Perhaps you’ll make something you can proudly show off in your home or learn a new skill that will lead to even more date nights!

6. Plan a Mystery Trip. A friend of mine likes planning what she calls “mystery trips” for her husband. She packs a bag for him and they start in the driveway with one envelope. It gives him a clue as to where they are headed (usually a breakfast stop) and then after breakfast he gets a new envelope with the next destination, and so on, until well into the night. One time it included a hockey game and a stay at a fancy hotel. The fun is in him not knowing what’s coming next, and the anticipation of each step getting a little bigger than the activity before. Take things to the next level with a few token gifts along the way!

7. G’Day Mate. If you MUST go to a dinner and a movie, add this little wrinkle that’s guaranteed to put Adultitis’ panties in a bunch: Speak in a fake accent to every stranger you encounter. Your Uber driver. The hostess. The waiter. The ticket taker. It doesn’t matter what accent it is, and it doesn’t even have to be very good. You just have to own it like a boss. The good news is that doing it together can bolster your courage and makes it tons of fun!

Hopefully this list will get you off to a good start in keeping your relationship fresh, fun, and going strong forever. If you want to take things to the next level, click here to download a checklist of 52 date night ideas (one for every week of the year!)

The Adultitis-Free Way to Win an Argument Every Time


At the most recent Escape Adulthood Summit, a woman named Kate shared an awesome technique for winning arguments.

It all started on a simple premise agreed upon by Kate and her husband. They decided that no matter how angry they were with each other during the course of an argument, if one of them said, “Lincoln Log!” they would both have to laugh.

(Actually, the word they used was “raccoon,” but she joked that it was already taken. Lincoln Log seemed fun — you can use it if you want. So does cantaloupe. Or sasquatch. Use your imagination!)

She described a typical scenario. An argument begins and quickly escalates, with both sides angrily stating their cases. In the heat of the action, just as Kate prepares to unload with both barrels, her husband says, “Raccoon!” At first she thinks to herself, “I CANNOT believe you pulled out “raccoon” right now; I was just about to bury you!” But inevitably, giggles burst free. Before long, both parties get some instant — and much-needed — perspective.

Most arguments usually morph into a match for superiority, with the actual reason for the argument is lost in the desire to win. When you use the “Raccoon” technique, it diffuses the situation in an instant, and cooler heads usually prevail.

Now you may wonder to yourself, “But who actually wins? The person who said the code word? The person who laughs first?”

That’s the coolest part: You both do.

It’s Adultitis that goes home the loser, its head hung in shame.

Your turn: What’s your favorite argument-diffusing technique? What do you think would make a great code word?

How to Adultitis-Proof Your Wedding


A wedding is supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life. But it can also be a breeding ground for Adultitis. This sinister foe downright salivates at events involving formal wear, the merging of families, and an expectation that everything is supposed to go perfectly.

Is it possible to Adultitis-proof your wedding?


But it requires a mindset that decides you’re going to have fun no matter what the caterer messes up or your mother-in-law does.

It also helps to incorporate some ideas that send the message to you and your guests that Adultitis is not invited. I’ve been collecting some of my favorite best Adultitis-free invites, favors, photo-ops and more on a Pinterest board.

What are YOUR favorite ideas for Adultitis-proofing a wedding?

How We Spent Our 13th Anniversary


Kim and I always do something childlike on our anniversary. One year we went to the circus. Another time we visited Toys “R” Us on Times Square. This year, we took the kids to Medieval Times.

Actually, that happened the day AFTER our anniversary. On our real anniversary, our sister-in-law watched the kids so we could play hooky and have lunch on a beautiful day. (Pretty childlike in its own right, I guess.) At lunch overlooking Lake Monona, we had a chance to chat about many things, gloriously uninterrupted.

We reminisced about our anniversary adventures.

We talked about the logistics of bringing the kids to a funeral the next day. It was for a friend’s mom, who passed away suddenly only two weeks after her husband had retired.

We talked about the fleeting nature of life, silently hoping that such a thing would never happen to us.

Then I asked Kim a question: “If this was our last anniversary together, how would you wish we’d have spent it?” [Read more…]

What Are The Chances?

we-just-clickI can’t imagine having a better business partner, wife, or friend than Kim. When I slow down enough to pay attention, it’s really quite amazing how well we fit together. And it boggles my mind how many things had to go right in order for me to meet her. A whole lot of dominoes had to fall just so in order for us to end up at that Oogie’s restaurant in that small Illinois town on the same December night with the purpose of singing Christmas carols. (Even though our reasons for being there were quite different.) I mean seriously, winning the lottery might be more mathematically likely.

Is there such thing as fate? Many people think life is just random series of unrelated events, coincidences, and dumb luck.

I don’t know. Perhaps fate is an outdated and silly romantic notion.

Perhaps not.

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Hat tip to Jenna for sharing the awesome Oscar Nominated short film, Paperman.

Making Memories Stick: One Sentence Daily Journal


My memory stinks. And I’m not even forty. Perhaps that is why I am so interested in simple ways to record the cool stuff that happens in my life. Then when I’m old I can actually have some idea of what I spent my life doing. [Read more…]

When It Comes to Relationships, Our Days Are Numbered

4,363 days.

That’s how many days Kim and I have been married, as of this writing.

I was inspired to figure this number out after attending a breakout session by Steve Wilson at the AATH (Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor) Conference in Chicago last weekend. He explained that he and his wife Pam don’t count the years they’ve been married, but the days. And if you were to ask either of them on the spot what day they were on, they’d be able to tell you. (I want to say it was over 10,000.)

And here I thought I was lucky getting hitched in 2000 because I’d always be able to tell how long I’d been married as long as I knew what year it was. [Read more…]

You Are The Milk to My Cereal

Pretty much how I feel about my wife. I lucked out big time.

[ You Are The Milk To My Cereal. Acrylic, graphite, and Sharpie on newsprint. 10 x 7 inches. ]

Ode To My Parents

“I’ve come to realize that making it your life’s work to be different than your parents is not only hard to do, it’s a dumb idea.” — Paul Reiser, Familyhood

[Read more…]

14 Super Fun (and Thrifty) Ways to Say I Love You


Valentine’s Day is the holiday of love. Well, at least according to Hallmark. The stores are saturated in pink and red, the calendar has that pesky little fine print next to the fourteenth day of February, and the pressure is huge to commemorate the big day with your sweetheart. That often means roses, chocolate, a dinner out…zzzzzz…oh, sorry, I drifted off there for a second. Valentine’s Day may be one of those obligatory holidays, but it’s never a bad thing to show someone how much you care, and it needn’t be boring. Your honey deserves more than ho-hum! And the fun ideas that follow won’t break the bank, either. [Read more…]

How Many Kids Can You Really Have Before Adultitis Takes Over?

Does having more kids increase your chances of Adultitis?

If so, how many kids can you have before it takes over your life completely? [Read more…]

Four Magic Words For Helping Those You Love De-stress

For our prenatal care with Lucy’s pregnancy and now with baby #2, Jason and I have had the good fortune of being under midwifery care. It’s truly been a gift that I am humbled by because of the attention, level of care, and love we receive from our midwives. All of our appointments are at least an hour — typically 75-90 minutes — and they come to our home (SUPER awesome with a 2-year-old).

Most couples not working with a midwife say, “What are you talking about all of that time? Our appointments are usually only 20 minutes.” Well, it usually comes down to four simple words they ask, spoken very sincerely, with patience and love: [Read more…]

Life Is Good. But Would You Like It To Be Better?

Most people are striving to make their lives better. Even if they are already pretty good. Unfortunately, we too often get caught in the trap of thinking that more is the same as better.

It’s not. (At least not as much as we think it is.) [Read more…]

On Darth Vader, Adultitis and Our Wedding Day

Last Friday, Jason and I celebrated 11 years of being Mr. & Mrs.

In true “Escape Adulthood” fashion, we played hooky in the afternoon and enjoyed a beautiful spring day in Madison together — just the two of us. Lunch outside by the lake, a nice stroll down State Street, dreaming together by the water. Our boss didn’t even care!! :)

It’s fun to think back to our wedding day. There were so many amazing little moments that I like to savor. [Read more…]

Laid Off Husband Celebrates Anniversary with Slew of Small Rebellions

Small rebellions rule. They really are the most effective way to beat Adultitis.

And they are so ridiculously simple.

Pretty much my favorite thing in the world these days is getting an email, a blog comment, or an anecdote at the end of one of my speaking programs from someone who shares an example of a small rebellion they have participated in. Most of the time, they don’t even realize they’ve done it, because the effort was pretty minimal. But the result is monumental. [Read more…]

The Hidden Secret Ingredient to a Great Marriage

I love going to concerts. Always have. However, maybe it’s my age, or maybe it’s that I have enough “noise” in my life, but I’ve been gravitating to quieter, more acoustic-driven shows these days. Kim and I had the chance to see The Weepies when they came to Madison recently. The singing songwriting duo consists of Steve Tannen and Deb Talan, who also happen to be married with two children. [Read more…]

Key West Wisdom #2: Invest in Your Marriage

We recently celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in Key West, Florida. With the little one in excellent hands back home, we had a chance for some good old-fashioned doin’ nothing.

While soaking up some rays and enjoying the surf, we were hit with some bits of wisdom regarding stressing less and having more fun. So we decided to create a six-part video series sharing some of the thoughts we had while we were in a Key West state of mind. In this tip, we talk about the crucial importance of investing in your marriage relationship.

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Sign up to receive our free newsletter to get regular reminders and tips for stressing less and having more fun. Consider it a well-deserved jolt of happiness for your inbox.

The Best Gift Ever (and Why It’s So Hard To Give)

What’s the best gift you can give someone?

Gold? Gift Certificates? Ghirardelli?

The real answer? TIME.

Time has really been on my mind lately because it’s such a limited resource.

And no one, not even the most acclaimed inventor has figured out a way to create more of it. The other crazy thing about time is that we don’t know how much of it we have to work with. Some get 96 years, others get 6. Simply put (as cliche as it sounds): it’s priceless.

We know this cognitively, but our actions don’t reflect this knowledge. [Read more…]

5 Musts for a Meaningful Marriage

The other day I received a nice email from a woman who shared, “I was at the conference in Milwaukee last week and really enjoyed your message — thank you! Very positive and I just left thinking…wow, they must have a really fun marriage.”

What a nice thing to say and very timely, since we were celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary the same week. Man, if every decade goes this fast then I might as well accept the fact that I’m going to be ninety years old in about 25 seconds. Seriously. Ladies and gentlemen: time is not our friend.

Jason and I are a good team. Usually people who are having fun make it look easy, but in the case of marriage, it is something you really have to work at. There’s a fine line between routine and boredom, and between being comfortable and taking things for granted. So, in reflecting on these amazingly awesome 10 years with Jason I’ve identified my 5 MUSTS for a meaningful marriage. Give ’em a read and let me know what makes your marriage meaningful. Here’s to ten years and counting… [Read more…]

Good Day Sunshine: 7 Ways to Make Your Living Space More Fun

If you’ve followed us for a while, then you know that like many entrepreneurs out there, Jason and I have had to work and sacrifice a lot to get where we are today – all the while being quite unsure if the investment was actually going to pay off. We spent the first seven years of our married life together living and working in a crowded apartment here in Madison. When we were selling greeting cards and prints wholesale to retail stores (one of our early business models), we often felt like we were living in a Hallmark store/warehouse filled with boxes, packing peanuts and the screeching sound of packing tape at 10:30 p.m. Yikes!

It took an enormous amount of mental and physical energy to rise above our physical environment in order to keep our blue sky mentality. I realize that our situation was not unique. This is a challenge for many folks for a variety of reasons. A tight budget may be preventing you from upgrading that outdated decor. Your spouse’s job loss may have brought you to the reality of downsizing your square footage. You might just be looking for something to lift your spirits to combat the negativity that pummels us day in and day out. Whatever the reason, here are a few easy ways to make your home more fun, with a little inspiration from our friends John, Paul, George and Ringo. [Read more…]

How to Keep Your Wedding Adultitis-Free

See more hilarious cakes gone wrong at

See more cakes gone wrong at

I’ve been to a lot of weddings. Sometimes I’ve been in the audience, other times I’ve been an extra as a member of the wedding party, and once I was even in the supporting role (that’s high as guys can go — the bride is unquestionably the star). On the fun scale of social events, weddings are typically the polar opposite of funerals. But it’s funny to me how something that is supposed to be such a joyous and happy event often involves a big ol’ cloud of stress.

Maybe it’s due to the inordinate amount of time spent preparing for one day — that’s a lot of pressure. Maybe all the money invested entitles people to expect perfection. Or maybe one of the mothers involved had a sister who was killed by a tornado-tossed house. Whatever the case may be, stress and Adultitis are often uninvited guests at weddings.

To which I say, lighten the frick up, people. [Read more…]

Jon & Kate Plus 8 Plus Adultitis

jon_and_kate1Over the past few years, I have watched more Jon & Kate Plus 8 than I care to admit. The wifey got me into it a few years ago. It’s not like we watch every episode, but it always seems to be on, and we get sucked in by something cute one of the kids says (like “I got to hit the tiñata.”).

Initially, I thought watching it made for pretty good birth control. Then Lucy came along and I began thanking my lucky stars that there weren’t five more of her in there. Now that I’m doing more of the grocery shopping, I am bombarded by the tabloids alerting me to the latest “scoop” on this couple now known by their famous first names. (Brangelina who?)

The season five premiere shattered TLC records, with about 10 million people tuning in to see what makes a train wreck look like a happy walk in a wading pool. It has followed the familiar arc of American celebrity: Someone rises up from obscurity to capture the hearts and minds of all the people only to be tarred and feathered (or worse) once we grow tired of them.

There is plenty of blame to go around for this monstrosity. Everybody is culpable, except the kids, who seem to always end up with the raw deal in these things. [Read more…]

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