One afternoon last October I was at work and needed a break from the project I was working on. So I checked my blog feed and a post from one of my favorite blogs made my heart skip a beat. The post, A Secret to a Happy Marriage, describes a long-married couple's weekly tradition of dining together al fresco at a pretty overlook in Brooklyn– which they have been doing for 24 years! The couple said that having a way to connect everyday, without distractions, is key to a happy marriage. How simple and true is that?
Instantly I loved the idea of a simple weekly tradition with Chris that would be fun but low stress. I immediately texted him the article, "What will our weekly tradition be? It's for the longevity of our marriage!" And then also texted the article to several girl friends. If I'm excited about something I love to share it.
I think the idea also appealed to me so much because we were in the midst of a very demanding year. The leadership role Chris took on at work this past year meant earlier mornings and longer days. The leisurely mornings and evenings that we could usually count on a few times each week evaporated. Chris was too busy to work from home and so the house wasn't getting a reset midweek when he would usually do some laundry and tidy up. That meant that by the end of the week the kitchen would be a wreck and dirty laundry filled every hamper. We still carpooled some days but a little less because Chris needed to take the bus to or from work to accommodate his meeting schedule. Plus we were both feeling more exhausted at the end of the day and our occasional game nights had also gone by the wayside.
And so I started brainstorming a weekly ritual that would work for our busy lives. As a lover of yearly goals and habits I wanted to start something in the new year. And then in December, Cup of Jo delivered inspiration (again!). I read The #1 Thing to Keep in Your Freezer about the magic of keeping frozen cookie dough on hand. And immediately I knew the perfect weekly ritual - freshly baked cookies made from frozen cookie dough!
This is the perfect idea for us because we can make a batch of dough once and be set for several weeks (we just bake 2 - 4 cookies each week). And it's quick! Baking the cookies only takes 20 minutes at most, including time to preheat the oven. Plus, sweets don't tend last long in our house (ahem, Chris) so having frozen cookie dough instead of ready-to-eat sweets like ice cream or other dessert is more likely to last. Chris took a pledge to honor the cookie date night cookies and not raid the freezer. So far he's (mostly) stuck by his word.
And so in January we started cookie date night! To keep the ritual simple enough for a busy week night the only requirements are that once a week we'll bake cookies, sit on the couch, and talk. No phones allowed. That's it!
So now on most Thursdays (or sometimes a Wednesday) as we put the boys to bed one of us preheats the oven. Then we pop a few frozen cookie dough balls in and a few minutes later the house starts smelling like cookies. Chris likes his cooked barely beyond dough state, I like mine cooked through but chewy. When the cookies are ready I pour myself a glass of milk and then we settle on the couch with warm cookies.
Even if we just talk for 15 minutes it feels meaningful to have made the time just for each other. Often we'll talk about what's going on with the boys lately, or maybe get into a deeper topic that's hard to talk about when little boys are interrupting every 23 seconds. Since January we've talked a lot about the big change we were planning. We've talked through the finances and imagined what life would look like other the other side.
What is so funny is that to stock the freezer with cookie dough I went to find a recipe to use and pulled out my Joy the Baker Cookbook. "The best browned butter chocolate chip cookies" sounded like the ticket and they are incredible, even baked from frozen! Now I'm looking back at the Cup of Jo post and they share a version the same recipe! So there you go. It is definitively the best. Before we left for our long trip to Texas I whipped up a batch to restock our freezer with future date night cookies. I'm looking forward to coming home to them!
Do you have any simple weekly rituals with your spouse or ideas of what might be fun?