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Scenic Outdoor Date Ideas to Enhance Your Relationship...

In a relationship, it's often hard to find time for each while balancing work, family, and everything in between. If time's not the issue then it's money, energy, or lack of ideas as to how snatch some QUALITY time together with in hectic lives. I've compiled a list of places where couples can go to experience romance and peace all year around without spending a dime. Though the destinations that I will list are all in Philadelphia, the point is to give you ideas on places that can serve as a mini retreat for you and your partner, no matter where you live.

First let me stress why these dates are crucial to a relationship. For starters, many men have been accused at some point in a relationship of not being completely focused on the topic at hand with their mate. Basically, they can be easily distracted while talking about "relationship things." And we ladies often get frustrated trying to tap into him without it seeming too "forced". Marriage counselor Dr. Willard F. Harley Jr. has a simple solution to this, as described in his book His Needs, Her Needs: find somewhere to go together on a regular basis, where there are no distractions! According to Dr. Harley, full, undivided attention is a basic need of a woman from her spouse, but also commonly a hard thing for a man to provide his spouse with.

For that reason my husband I have always treasured those moments just talking under the stars amidst some of Philadelphia's most beautiful landscapes. It's a tradition that we've continued just about weekly since our very first date seven years ago. These dates are mostly informal and spur-of-the-moment. For us, it's a way to revisit our past  at a place when our lives and relationship were much simpler, and try to recapture some simplicity in our lives, if only for an hour or two.

But nostalgia isn't all we embrace on the outings, we talk about anything and everything such as personal or relationship problems, hopes and dreams, philosophy, sex, etc. I don't know what it is about a beautiful outdoor environment that just makes the conversation flow with ease and encourages romance and affection. But at home I will always have to compete with distractions like the TV or the "sandman" for his attention and interest. So I'm glad to share these tips with other couples with this dilemma. 

The first destination on my list is Penn's Landing, located at about the midpoint of the eastern border of the city. Lots of families go there around summertime for events usually held in the day time, but the atmosphere is completely different after sun-down. Then, you will find mostly couples holding hands strolling, sharing a kiss on a bench, or in whatever way engaged in a world for two. Penn's landing offers a backdrop of Olde City and in the forefront the Delaware River reflecting in it's waves the twinkling lights from the Ben Franklin Bridge, Camden waterfront, and docked or passing ships and boats. Romance completely fills it's evening air.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art also has it's share of outstanding views. The building itself is not only architecturally stunning, but because it sits on high at an ideal location, it's surrounded by fantastic "look-out points" and romantic nooks. It has beautifully landscaped areas are accessorized with benches, statues, and magnificent sculptured fountains. One of the best features are the gazebos overlooking a waterfall in the Schuylkill River with Boathouse Row in the background. Another great feature is Azalea Gardens where we had our wedding day pictures taken, so it's a very for us. It's all accessible to the public, even when the museum is closed.

Of course there are wonderful parks that can be best enjoyed on the weekend for a daytime date. For instance, Pennypack Park, located in Northeast Philadelphia, is an absolutely beautiful place to enjoy a stroll along the creek side. It's so serene that it gives the feeling that you're on vacation somewhere far from the city. Parks such as these are an excellent way to get some quality time in with your mate while adding a healthy dose of exercise and nature.

Another great park is Fairmount Park. With 9,200 acres across the city, there are a number of ways to experience romance and tranquility amidst the outdoors. Most of the park surrounds the Schuylkill River, offering stunning views from embankments, gazebos, fields, or even from your car, for the less adventurous.

Chances are, there are many great places like the ones that I have described around you. It's up to you to take advantage of any chance to get close to your partner. I've suggested places where cost isn't an issue. But if you remain crunched for time, try bringing your dinner along to enjoy under the stars, or a have picnic on day dates. If there's no one to watch the kids for an hour or two, bring them along. All of my suggestions are completely family friendly. Let them run around while you (mostly) focus on your spouse. The point is to find a way to promote oneness in your relationship and express complete interest in each other.   

For more information on ways to create and maintain solidarity in your marriage from Dr. Willard, and  to learn about his book His Needs, Her Needs, refer to www.marriagebuilder.com . Whether your marriage is already strong or on the rocks, I guarantee this book will make you and your spouse have plenty of "light-bulb moments"! If you want more info or directions to any of the destinations mentioned, simply google the name provided to be directed to the proper site.

Hopefully this tip has been helpful. Good luck in your relationship!-Alicia Hopkins

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