10 dates to heat up your marriage this summer

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Ready to heat up your marriage with some hot summer date nights? These 10 dates can really turn up the thermostat in your relationship. Ready, set, go!

1. Be a kid again. When I think of my childhood summers, I remember endless games of tag and hide-and-seek. Now we have adult responsibilities that prevent us from being footloose and fancy-free. You can bring some of that joy back by being a kid again. Activities can include mini-golf, bowling, roller skating and visiting an amusement park or an arcade.

2. Gather a group. Remember when you used to hang out with your friends? It may have been at the mall, a park or the local eatery. Nothing was better than spending time with your friends, talking, laughing and enjoying each other's company. Get a group of your favorite married couples together. Go on a walking tour of your town, go ax throwing or even participate in an escape room together.

3. Go retro. You know the saying, "What's old is new again." Think about the clothes, music or hairstyles from the past. Find a thrift shop with clothes from the '50s, '60s, '70s or '80s. Select an outfit for each of you. Host your own Retro Date Night with friends, or you all can dress up and have a date like they would have had in the past. For example, for a '50s date, go to a drive-in movie and then hit a hamburger spot or ice cream shop where you can share a milkshake.

4. Look into the future. Think about what your life might look like in 30 years. Would you be retired? Would you own that boat or lake house you've dreamed about? Would you have grandchildren? Would you have an RV? Try renting an RV and go camping (or glamping) near your home. Or go ahead and rent a lake house for the weekend.

5. Enjoy your town. You may have lived in your town for years but have never experienced it like a tourist. It may be fun to go on a walking tour. Enjoy the sights and sounds of a local farmers market.

6. Try out a First Things First date night. We've got a long list of great date nights that all can be done for free and at home. From learning how to dance the salsa to baking an apple pie together, you and your spouse can rekindle that spark without ever leaving the house! (If you have kids, you won't even need to hire a sitter. Just start after the kids go to bed and enjoy an intentional night together.)

7. Listen to the music of your life. Do you and your honey have a song? This summer may be a great time to take in an outdoor concert. One of my favorite concerts is when our local symphony plays outdoors. Classical may not be your favorite, but see if your town has music festivals or local artists playing your favorite genres. It's been said that "Sometimes music is the only medicine the heart and soul need."

8. Expand your mind. Maybe the thought of heat or crowds of people doesn't seem like fun. Instead, you may enjoy quieter moments together where you stimulate your brain, which is the largest sex organ in the body. Seek out art, history or cultural museums. If your town has public art, find it. Go see a play performed by a theater group. Find and watch a lecture by your favorite poet or writer.

9. Hit the road. Take a short drive, a weekend trip to the beach or even a planned two-week road trip that allows you to see and experience something other than the ordinary. Talk to each other instead of spending time on your phone or device. If you run out of things to talk about, you can find lots of conversation starters online.

10. Get physical. Doing something physical with your spouse creates a deeper level of intimacy and greater bonding with each other. Participate in a virtual race, and train together. Or take an outdoor exercise class like walking, yoga or kayaking. (If you run out of ideas, you can always do a bedroom date!)

Let this be your summer of love.

Gena Ellis is a relationship coach at family advocacy nonprofit First Things First. Email her at gena@firstthings.org.

photo Gena Ellis / Contributed photo