Sales + Budget Buys

Do You Date Your Spouse? (And Early Black Friday Deals.)

By: Jen Shoop

Ed. note: I updated the cover photo of this post after initial publication because the first was too blurry. I also updated the Black Friday sale section with fab finds!

Question for you — do you date your spouse? What does this look like?

I have friends all over the map on this front. A few tid-bits I’ve gathered over the years in discussing this with girlfriends:

“We take off work an hour early on Fridays so we can grab a happy hour drink together while our nanny is still with the children. This helps us head into the weekend feeling connected.”

“We arrive at the restaurant in different vehicles so it feels like a true “date”.”

“We go on dates to Costco — we have to squeeze “dates” in wherever we can.”

“We book a neighborhood sitter to come by so we can enjoy a cocktail at home, cloistered somewhere the children are not, but without any of the pomp/circumstance of finding a restaurant.”

“We calendar a monthly date so we have lots of time to find a restaurant/movie/activity and sitter. We always know exactly which date it’ll be, and we move mountains to maintain the commitment.”

“Once a year, my parents take the children for a full week. We catch up on dates during that time.”

Mr. Magpie and I prioritize time alone together and will go out once or twice a month in the evenings, just the two of us — usually for dinner, but sometimes for a musical or cultural performance. These are not pre-programmed (e.g., we don’t calendar them in ahead of time); I am instead opportunistic about keeping my ears open for cool happenings or interesting promotions at local restaurants and then pouncing when they materialize. We also take a lot of daytime dates, especially for lunch (and sometimes coffee). We both work from home so we’ll coordinate on a lunch date once or twice a month. I always feel like saying “it’s not a good day for this” when the lunch date day arrives, but invariably wind up feeling fulfilled and relaxed at the end of the hour. There’s a scene in “Wet Hot American Summer” where campers go on a wild bender in town that clearly seems to unfold over the course of many days, but one of the characters gets back to camp at the end of the scene and says: “It’s always fun to get away from camp, even for an hour.” That’s sort of how these midday dates feel — just an hour, but they contain several days’ worth of release. The topography of my daily stress changes.

We’ve also begun to conceive of “car dates.” Sometimes, Mr. Magpie will drive to pick up lunch and ask me to come along, just for a little square of twenty minutes to chat. More frequently, we are driving into D.C. for dinner with friends — a trek nearly always takes 30-45 minutes from Bethesda. For awhile, we begrudged these journeys, but now, we think of them “ante-dates.” Time to sit with each other and catch up. We put on good music and take turns holding hands and removing hands.

Last but not least, there have been a few nights this past year where we’ve mapped our romantic date nights at home. One recent one involved martinis, delivery burgers from Et Voila, and a scary movie. Pretty much perfect.

Looking across these “dates,” it seems to me that one through-line is simply announcing the occasion. Instead of: “do you want to run out and grab lunch?” it’s “want to have a lunch date with me tomorrow?”; instead of “should we watch a scary movie?” it’s “let’s have a date night at home and watch a scary movie.” There is something about marking off the time together as “dating” that puts me in the right head-space (and heart-space). It always makes me think about my husband from the outside in. Not the partner who fixes door handle and kills the spiders and pours the cereal for the children in the morning, but the handsome man who I am in love with!

Curious to hear your perspectives and advice on this front. How do you handle it?


+Our love story.

+”I think, then, how a life led by love requires so little, and gives so much.”

+A little bit of romantic fiction for you.

+An interesting conversation on John Mayer (see comments). Such a polarizing figure, but generally beloved by us Magpies. John Mayer, the Gap kick fit jeans, and mobile ordering Starbucks at the airport: a Magpie starter kit.

Shopping Break.

The following content may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through the links below, I may receive compensation.

Everyone has started their BF/CM promotions early this year! Sharing my favorite promotions for the shopping super bowl this week below. I’m hoping you are sitting in your tartan nap dress with your Ugg slippers tucked beneath you, sipping a delicious oat milk latte, ready for some fun shopping.

First, I wanted to share a couple of one-off items that are great deals this week (most from “the big retailers” like Boden, J. Crew, etc whose promos seem to be changing every hour — but will generally be a good time to buy any day this week):

+this sparkle rib Boden top;

+this tartan blazer (!!!);

+this silver lurex turtleneck (will pair with this sequin skirt — look for less with this);

+this fair isle sweater (imagining with this hot pink mini or metallic jeans);

+and this face wash I’ve been yapping about (20% off with code BF23 and my favorite face wash, as described here).

Onto a few sites running particularly good promos this week…

+Tuckernuck. 20% off sitewide, 25% off orders over $500, 30% off orders over $1000 with code CHEERS. I’d use this promotion to round out the holiday attire wardrobe. Love this black watch tartan top (ordered) for more casual holiday gatherings; these coated jeans; these mesh LR flats; this tweed jacket; this velvet Ulla J.

I’m traveling to Tulum this winter, and have begun somewhat passively looking for resort wear picks. If you’re in the same boat, you might consider snagging this Hunza G (the stripes!), this Fanm Mon, or this Hannah Artwear.

+Lake Pajamas. 25% off sitewide. You know how I feel about their Relax Set — one of my absolute favorite things in the world. Now’s the time! I also love this holiday patternmini and I both have a set!

+Doen has discounted a ton of their beautiful pieces (no code needed). You know I’m a major Doen fan girl! I have worn this top (you can size down, runs big — I took an XXS and it’s still roomy; I’m typically an XS) and this dress A TON this season. I’ll be wearing this dress on Thanksgiving! And this plaid top is in my cart.

+Minnow. 25% off sitewide with code MERRY25. One of their two sales per year, and Minnow is my favorite brand for swimwear and boy’s casual wear in the summer months. I always buy my children a few swimsuits using this promo. Love this rash guard, these swim trunks, their twill shorts, and of course their knitwear! (You can see Hill in his here.)

+Jenni Kayne. 25% off sitewide. No code needed. Treat yourself (or your sister) to a luxe sweater! My sister lives in their knitwear and always nails that “quiet luxury” vibe. These are sweaters made for living — she likes to layer hers over leggings to chase her toddler around at the park. Perfect weekend wear. The Cooper is my top pick but nearly sold out. I own and adore their everyday sweater — great midweight layering piece –and love these striped crewnecks, too.

+Petite Plume. 20% off site-wide with code BLACKFRIDAY. My children will be wearing these come Thanksgiving night (the pattern also available in a soft pima cotton if your children prefer that style, but the standard style ones are NOT itchy — very soft! My children have owned tons of pairs!). I also love these tartan nightgowns for little loves. If you’re at a loss for what to get a cute newborn in your life, go with one of these itty bitty tartan rompers. ICONIC!

+Mirth. 30% off sitewide, no code needed. My Mirth caftan ended up being one of my most-worn dresses last summer. The dresses are all thoughtfully designed with unexpected details and lightweight, comfortable fabrics. This looks equally dreamy. And I love the loose fit of this for throwing on over a swimsuit in Mexico.

+Merit. 20% off with code PRIVATE20. One of my absolute favorite beauty brands. I waxed poetic about several of their pieces a few days ago. Now is the time to outfit your makeup bag for the new year. I especially love their minimalist stick, angled brush, and flush balms, and I’m a new admirer of their mascara, which separates lashes like none other.

+Kilte. Use the promotion to snag one of their washable cashmere sets. One of my girlfriends owns this set in two colors and looks beyond fab in it. (She pairs with ballet flats and silk scarves.)

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10 thoughts on “Do You Date Your Spouse? (And Early Black Friday Deals.)

  1. So much of this resonates with me — especially the alternating holding and removing of hands in the car!! Love this detail — I feel seen. My partner and I always do this, whether we are driving four hours to see my parents or 20 minutes to pick the kids up at school. We definitely take advantage of those “dead car times” by accompanying one another (when convenient) and it greatly increases the time alone we have together, especially during the week. We are also fortunate to work from home together AND we both travel frequently for work, sometimes together, so we have an advantage over many couples our age when it comes to alone time together. That said, we concentrate on dining out as a couple (ie going on proper ‘dates’) when we are traveling together, either for work or on vacation, so we can focus on dining out with the kids when at home. This approach works well for us but it often means I’m behind the 8 ball when it comes to having intel on the best new restaurants at home, at least the ones that are more elegant and cater to the 21+ crowd!


    1. Aw – the holding and un-holding hands! It’s such a funny and intimate dance. It’s like we both intuitively know when to drop hands, then find one another again. Funny that you have that too!

  2. We have toddlers (twins), and even when we can get away for an evening, it doesn’t always feel like a date. It’s so hard to overcome the urge to talk about logistics and the kids. I always feel like we have an overflowing list of boring issues to deal with and talking about them when our kids are howling in the background or after they’ve gone to bed and we’re exhausted from the day isn’t appealing either. Overall I’ve found it really hard to consistently carve out mental space as a partner amidst everything else.

    However, our best solution for quality time has been to take a day off work while the kids are in daycare and do a movie or a hike or skiing, but that’s not always the most date-like. I’ve actually found that double dates with other friends is often the most romantic. The laundry list of household maintenance doesn’t get ever dragged out and there’s something interesting about seeing your partner in interaction with other people that brings some novelty into it.

    1. Hi Mia! These are such great insights / thoughts. I totally know what you mean about dragging logistics (“STPs” as we call them — “Shoop Talking Points”) into a romantic context. Can really kill the mood! Love the idea of a double date as a novel way to see your loved one.


  3. Big caveat that we don’t have kids, and I imagine the following will be less relevant afterwards. On Sundays, we head to the farmer’s market for our weekly produce then head home to have breakfast and make plans for the coming week to spend time together. We use a weekly planning notepad that I found through this blog to first note our social commitments during the week and next note our just us plans. We have some go-to activities that we tend to schedule over and over in addition to newer activities. During the work week, we’ll often take evening walks through Georgetown (such a charming neighborhood during the day but pure magic in the evenings), go for a run somewhere we’re looking forward to, pick up take out and/or make a drink we’re looking forward to and pair it with an activity (walk, board game) or a specific topic of conversation, etc. For the weekend, we usually plan a dinner date out but sometimes we’ll plan to make a meal we’re particularly looking forward to. Beyond social commitments and restaurant reservations required for the weekend, we typically don’t schedule any weekend activities for a specific day or time (with the exception of the farmer’s market on Sundays). Instead, we’ll do whatever sounds good to us that day. This includes everyday, mundane activities like working out, grocery shopping, etc. If we find we have too many things we want to do in a given day (often the case), we’ll each name our least priority activities until we find a match that we’ll then deprioritize. Sometimes, we will plan ahead to have an entire weekend day dedicated to a day trip. And the first weekend day after any kind of trip, we will head to a coffee shop and enjoying a drink together and catch up (e.g., after visiting family for the holidays, after a work trip even if we went together, after a vacation just us). We also find time on the weekends for individual activities- calling family, pursuing individual hobbies, etc.

    Overall though, I find there are many small, routine interactions that I look forward to most on a day to day basis… our conversations as we get ready for the day in the morning (what’s the weather today, what’s new in the world, how did you sleep), our texts throughout the day checking in on another (how is your day going, let’s talk about XYZ topic tonight), seeing each other after work in the evenings, the comfort of being in his company, and falling asleep next to one another. All of our planned together time pales in comparison to the steadiness of these everyday interactions.

    1. Hi! This is such a beautiful note. You are so right that the everyday is really where the magic happens, even though it can be easy to lose sight of that! My girlfriend always says “life happens between the drumbeats.” Yep!!

      I also loved this note/practice: “If we find we have too many things we want to do in a given day (often the case), we’ll each name our least priority activities until we find a match that we’ll then deprioritize.” So considerate, and my engineer husband would love this structured technique!


  4. I know someone who car commutes with her husband a few times a week and the drive is 1 hour each way- a significant commute for sure, but much lovelier when you consider that the two of them get two hours of uninterrupted time away from their children to chat, plan, and just be together.

    1. So sweet – I love that idea. I do agree that car time is often dead time — why not fill it with company? I will sometimes call Mr. Magpie when on a longer drive!


  5. I like what you said Jen about outwardly phrasing things in a way that puts you in the right headspace! It’s so easy to forget to specifically view your partner from the lens of being the person you love! Versus all their daily and less exciting roles in life. My husband and I don’t have kids right now but we met when we were 23 and have now been together 13 years, and it’s so easy to get caught up in the monotony of the day to day and forget to take a step back!

    That said, I think we both prioritize spending time doing fun or new things together. We approach it similarly to how you do — it’s not scheduled but informed by something interesting going on, whether that’s a show we want to see together at the Kennedy Center, a new restaurant or bar, or a great travel deal somewhere we’ve always talked about traveling to.

    1. Yes, so easy to get caught up in “getting things done.” I find it’s really important to take those glasses off every now and then and see him as I did from the beginning!


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