Hi, we're Hunter and Sarah, a husband-and-wife, luxury wedding photography team. We’re also educators, helping other photographers build profitable and sustainable photography businesses.
It’s no secret that Sarah and I practice a weekly tradition of date night. Every single week, we set aside one evening where we won’t book any jobs, won’t meet with any clients, put away our cameras and our computers, and spend intentional quality time together.
Although we’ve been practicing this weekly ritual since we got married in 2017, about 18 months ago we added a set of just four questions that were given to us by a mentor. Beyond just the weekly time together, these questions have been huge in helping us build a strong foundation for our marriage, and staying aware of what’s going on in each other’s innermost lives.
Before we get to our four questions, let’s chat about why we practice date night in the first place. Since I was a kid, my brother Tanner and I have known that Thursday night meant date night for our parents. When we were young, it meant we were off to Grandma’s house so my parents could go out for a casual dinner each week without kids. As we got older, Tanner and I were able to stay home while they went out or — when Tanner got his driver’s license — go out to our own dinner together or with friends.
Last Fall, my parents celebrated 30 years of marriage and running a business together full-time. Apparently small business ownership with your spouse runs in the family! And they point to their weekly date night as one of the best things they’ve done, and impressed it upon Sarah and I, and later on Tanner and his soon-to-be-wife, Jess. Their only rule: no work/business talk. Just intentional conversation with each other. Although our shooting schedule doesn’t allow us to always do date night on the same night of the week like my parents, we still make sure that there’s one evening each workweek with no shoots and no meetings!
We also understand that in our current stage of life — no kids and no pets, not even a fish — date night is easy. All we need to do is set aside one night a week without a photoshoot. The pastor who married Sarah and I joked with us during our pre-marital counseling that before you have kids, every night is date night! But we know there’s a difference between being together in the evening, and intentional conversation and quality time.
An important thing to note: although it’s fun to literally go out for date night, it doesn’t have to mean eating out. For much of our marriage so far, our conservative budget or the global pandemic have meant most date nights have been cooking at home, which we do most nights, or ordering takeout. It isn’t the atmosphere that makes date night special, but the conversations we have.
If you and your significant other/spouse don’t have a weekly date night, we cannot recommend it highly enough. Give it a shot for a few months, and see how it goes! And if you’re really up for a new level of intentionality and vulnerability with each other, consider asking each other these 4 questions.
This is a powerful question. There are so many moments throughout the week where Sarah shows her love for me — both in the big ways and the small. But after being together for almost 10 years, it’s easy to take these moments for granted. When we ask each other this question, it gives us space to pause, reflect, and show appreciation for the moments of love throughout the week. And if your partner takes 5 minutes to consider this question, and can’t think of a single time in the last 7 days where they felt tangibly loved by you — helloooo wake-up call, it’s time to step up your game!
This question is especially important for couples that don’t work together full-time like Sarah and I. In the first year of our marriage, we were both working full-time jobs while running our photography business on nights and weekends. Boy would this question have helped then!
It gives time to anticipate potential challenges — times where you can proactively step up to help your partner ahead of a difficult day at work, rather than being caught off-guard and reacting in the moment. It’s also just a nice time to coordinate your schedules ahead of a busy week. For Sarah and I, this question can sometimes devolve into planning our workweek, so we try to snap back out of workday scheduling and get back into “how can I love you well this week”.
If you and your partner are people of faith, we don’t need to explain how consequential prayer is in the life of a couple. But even if you aren’t a person of faith, we wouldn’t skip over this question entirely. Although we believe that prayer is fundamentally a conversation with God, and the power of prayer comes from that relationship, we also recognize some secondary benefits.
If I sit down and spend five minutes praying for my wife every day, that’s five minutes that I’m spending committing all my intellectual and emotional energy toward perceiving and anticipating her thoughts, needs and desires. If Sarah tells me she has a stressful week coming up, and asks that I pray for her to resist anxiety and worrying, I’ll be much more aware of the way I talk to and encourage her the rest of the week. If you aren’t’ a person of faith, what could this look like for you?
Yes, you read that right. We literally ask each other this question every single week. Sarah and I are really transparent with each other in just about every area of our lives, so we’ve been a bit surprised at how difficult it is for some couples to talk about their own sex life to each other. Sex is a natural part of most romantic relationships, and when both partners engage in it in a loving and selfless way — centered on their partner and not on themselves — it can be an incredible expression of love.
It saddens us to see friends who have been married for multiple years and are regularly sexually active, exclusively with each other, but still find the topic taboo and awkward. That’s a recipe for a lifetime of mediocre sex! Just opening the conversation and listening to each other’s response — and that goes doubly for my fellow men, most of whom have been misled by movies and TV about what it takes to please a woman — can change your relationship forever!
Thanks so much for reading! We hope this marriage advice serves to strengthen your love for each other every single week!