Merging Finances: Three Questions to Consider

Whether you’re moving in together or getting married, there aren’t many aspects of coupling up that can be as contentious as the merging—or not merging—of finances. There’s no right way to navigate these waters, but it can be tricky to figure out the right balance for your relationship. And while we can’t tell you exactly how to strike that balance, we can offer a list of things to think about while you’re working on it. Here are three key considerations to make when merging finances with your partner.

Ownership.

This can mean ownership of physical items, like real estate and cars, but it can also mean ownership of debt or bills, like college loans or monthly utilities. You might choose to combine all assets into joint bank accounts or keep separate accounts and divvy up the bills. No matter what you decide, it’s important to discuss it all up front so there are no unwelcome surprises, like an avoidable past-due payment.

Spending versus saving.

While you might like to save every extra penny for a rainy day, your partner may prefer to spend those pennies on travel or dining out. If you have opposite approaches to spending, you’ll need to learn to meet in the middle. It can take some time to get used to someone else’s financial habits. Give yourself—and your partner—grace during the adjustment period.

Financial goals.

While it’s important to set expectations and boundaries for day-to-day finances, don’t forget the big picture. Where do you see yourself financially in 10 years? Forty years? Financial planning isn’t just about retirement. Whether you would like to buy a property, remodel an existing one, start your own business, or just have more financial freedom, you’ll get farther in your goals if your partner is on the same page. Don’t be afraid to dream a little, as long as you are dreaming together.

There are no right answers when it comes to merging finances, but communication is key. Start your financial life together on the right foot by having the important conversations early. Your relationship will be better off for it.

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How to Negotiate Your Social Life with Your Partner

Finding “the one” was hard enough. But finding him or her doesn’t mean that it’s all smooth sailing from here on out. Once you’ve decided to officially start a life together—things change. Maybe you were accustomed to going out with friends on the weekend and your SO is more of a homebody. That might end up being the perfect yin-yang situation. But more often, partners find that merging their social lives and social styles is a little more complicated, and takes a little more finesse. So how do you negotiate your social life to come up with the perfect marriage—pun intended—of social interaction that works for both of you? 

We’ve got a few tips, so keep reading.

You don’t.

OK, that sounds harsh. But it’s true. Relationships take work and compromise, and this isn’t just limited to the hard stuff, like finances and family planning and communication. It applies to every aspect of your partnership. 

What this means for your social life is that you have to be open to making sacrifices for your partner. Maybe you don’t spend every single weekend clubbing with your girlfriends. Or if you’re the homebody, maybe you make a commitment to regularly venture out of your comfort zone and do something that your extrovert partner enjoys. 

You don’t have to do something you hate all the time. But being receptive to the experiences your partner enjoys is a great way to keep a positive attitude and an open mind.

Be respectful of your partner’s friends and family.

Even if you don’t now, you and your significant other had separate lives at one time. Make sure to maintain space in the relationship to continue those connections. While you are the center of one another’s lives now, that doesn’t mean that there’s no room for anyone else. Give each other freedom to regularly connect with friends and family, even without the other, when warranted. Absence does make the heart grow fonder, after all.

Make new friends, together.

Making couple friends can be tough, but it’s completely doable. Find activities that you can both enjoy, like joining a hiking club, volunteering for a neighborhood association, or playing in a recreational sports league. These are all great places to meet other couples that are in the same phase of life as you. And if you’re into app-based networking, check out Couplr, the app that brings like-minded couples together to socialize.

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Couples Surviving the Pandemic: A COVID-19 Story

It’s been more than a year since coronavirus became a household word. The pandemic has laid bare the strength (or lack thereof) of many an institution. From public schools to your corner deli, there’s a fine line between the organizations that have survived and those that have crumpled. 

This is true also of relationships. A new study by a relationship coaching company surveyed more 1,700 people in long-term relationships. And some 68% of respondents who had separated from their partners this year reported that it was due to the pandemic. But while the study found that the pandemic has been a big stressor for couples, it also drew some interesting conclusions about the habits of couples surviving the pandemic.

“Our results tell the story of two different types of couples—those who are struggling and growing further apart, and those who are adapting and growing closer together,” the study reads.

What worked?

When asked “What has been helpful for your relationship during the COVID-19 pandemic?” the people who considered themselves the happiest in their relationships answered with one of these five options:

These are already all positive-sounding things, but now that we know they are associated with relationships that have survived the pandemic, they’re looking like really great ways to spend time together.

What didn’t?

Wondering about the other side of the coin? Those who identified themselves as being unhappy in their relationships answered with these options:

There is nothing wrong with any of these things on their own. However, looking at this list, most of the items are not conducive to quality time together. It’s great to connect with old friends and have some quality time alone, but make sure you’re tending to your relationship, too. As the study showed, that effort can pay off.

“Overall,” the study concludes, “we can see that—for some couples—this year has helped them to develop resilience and grow in a way they may not have predicted. In the words of one of our survey respondents—‘you can’t make diamonds without a little pressure.’” Resilience seems to be a winning skill for couples surviving the pandemic. 

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Talking About Exes: Three Things to Consider

It’s a subject that has been covered in many a sitcom episode: A lovelorn gal (or guy), trying to move on, spends an entire first date talking about an old flame. The message is clear. Talking about exes is a total no-no.

And most Americans agree. A 2017 study found that, across most demographic lines, only roughly one-third of Americans believe it’s ok to discuss past relationships on a first date. But while it’s true that talking about your ex too much can put a damper on a new relationship, that doesn’t mean that you should never talk about your past. 

Your previous relationships are part of what make you who you are, and it’s natural for your partner to be curious about them. These conversations can also bring you closer, if done right.

There are a few simple rules that will help you avoid the minefields while opening up to your SO. Read on for our list of three things you should consider when talking about past relationships with your partner.

Never compare

This should go without saying, but it’s best never to compare your ex to your present, in any way, shape or form. That way madness lies. Past relationships are in the past—and if yours isn’t, you’re probably not ready for your present one.

Consider your intentions

It’s all in the delivery, and your intentions matter. So think about why you are sharing. Is it to give your significant other important context about you and your past? In that case, go ahead. But if you’re venting about your ex because you’re still angry, step back and think about it first. That relationship is over; let it go and focus all your energy on your current romance. Best of all? There’s no downside to this approach

Put this relationship first

Talking about your ex should never make your SO feel worse about themselves. And some things don’t need to be shared. So keep the intimate details to yourself. Yes, even if your partner asks. You don’t want to open that box.

It’s surprisingly easy to overshare when talking about your exes. But these rules will help you navigate those treacherous waters and come out dry on the other side.

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Four Date Night Ideas for Four Different Types of Couples

If you are a resident of Chicagoland, consider yourself lucky! You are in no shortage of fun places to visit. Today, we’ve put a list together of four places guaranteed to make you belly laugh. Because isn’t the whole idea of a double date to be able to let loose and have fun? So, scroll on down and set a date. We promise this will be nothing but fun! Here are four date night ideas for four different types of couples!

For the “Cool” Couples

TRY: KRYPTON VR VIRTUAL REALITY LOUNGE

Escape rooms are so last season. Chicago’s First Virtual Reality Lounge literally helps you lunge into a whole new world! There are tons of virtual realities to choose from, including “flying anywhere in the world”. This is the perfect blend of getting out of the house, having a ton of fun with friends and experiencing something new. Bonus: Its BYOB. Check out their website for more info.

For the “Good Time” Couples  

TRY: LINCOLN KARAOKE

If you prefer non-intimidating looking places, an eclectic mix of people and are out to let lose… you can’t go wrong with this “hole in the wall” karaoke bar. With a solid 4-star rating and over 400 reviews, you can rest assure you are leaving this place with some fun memories. Bonus: they offer Happy hours with 50% off private rooms. You can check out their website here for reservation info.

For the “Daring” Couples 

TRY: WATERIDERS

Listen, we know there are some things that sound really fun to do and you always say you’re gonna do them, but then life happens, and you end up missing out. Don’t miss out on this! a guaranteed unique experience, this is a memory completely worth making with friends. Check out their pricing and rules here but trust us, don’t overthink this whole new way to see Chicago. 

For the “WINNER” Couples

TRY: PINSTRIPES

If you’re into friendly competitions and the words “sophisticated fun” sound like your kind of thing then look no further than Pinstripes. Starting at only $5 per person, drool-worthy dinners and an impressive bar menu, this place is a total no brainer choice for a double date night. You can eat, you can drink and you can Bowl. Bonus: There’s Bocce. Check out their website here.

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Double couple competition: How to put on a cooking challenge evening

Modern Solutions for Modern Problems: Double Date Ideas, from the team at Couplr

Double Date Ideas, from the team at Couplr

Double date ideasIf you’re like most long-term couples, you are probably well past the honeymoon phase of your relationship. Thus, you have likely experienced the unavoidable “married life” rut. The good news is there are many ways to keep it alive and thriving, with one of them being…you guessed it! Double Dating.

According to a study in Science Daily, double dating can be a great way to reignite passion for your significant other. Having another couple to share personal details with has been proven to help make you feel closer to your partner.

Let’s face it, passion is one of the first things to go in a long-term relationship. It takes a lot of work to keep the passion train going. Not surprisingly, the antidote to breaking that “dry spell” is introducing new options.

So how exactly can you strengthen the bond with your partner via double dating? Glad you asked. See below for two expert tips.

Indoor Double Date Ideas

Play the question game

This tactic has the power to solidify a couple’s unity and increase partners’ attraction to one another. On your next date night, ask everyone in your group questions like, “Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?” or “If you could go back in your life and change any one experience, what would it be and why?”. If you would rather stick to small talk, you can try questions like “When was the last time you walked for more than an hour?”.

Get Out

The typical couple spends their free time “staying in”, which can get pretty boring. Setting the commitment and feeling the pressure to make a “night out” worthwhile pushes you to try things outside of your comfort zone. Most of the time, it ends with you having a genuinely good time. Not only will you get to reconnect with old friends or make new ones, but it may be good for your relationship!

Introducing new experiences with another couple does not only break the every-day mold. Such interactions have been proven to help us perceive our relationship in a whole new light. While most of our day-to-day interactions are now online, our double dating life doesn’t need to be. Oftentimes, couples may want to hang out with others, but they run into decision-making fatigue and are not quite sure what to do. So here are some suggestions!

Put together a cooking challenge at your home!

Double couple competition, double date ideasIf you and your couple friends are foodies, or just enjoy watching any of the myriad cooking shows on television these days, why not throw a mystery ingredient cooking challenge party?

Cooking challenge shows vary in their rules and complexity, so if there is a particular program that you love, feel free to adapt it to your liking. The plan laid out below allows for some friendly competition for a group of four. If you prefer your competition a little more cutthroat, invite a few more friends over to serve as judges.

The rules

Each person is responsible for one dish: appetizer, entrée, side dish, dessert. Depending on the size and functionality of your kitchen, you can either all cook at the same time, two at a time, or one at a time.

The catch

Each individual will need to use a provided set of mystery ingredients to make their dish. You and your friends can decide how best to do this – will one person do all the shopping, or will each person create a mystery ingredient bag for a particular course?

To keep it fun and manageable for everyone, don’t make your mystery ingredients too outlandish, or too disparate. A combination of shrimp, navel oranges, cocoa powder, and bok choy? Challenging, but doable. Rocky road ice cream, anchovies, turnips, and eggs? Maybe not so much.

Tips for success

Engaging with Other CouplesMake sure your kitchen is well-stocked.  You’ll want a good selection of cookware as well as butter, oil, salt, pepper, and spices. You may want to have staples on hand like Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, flour, cornstarch, and lemons. The more you have to work with, the more creative you can be! And don’t forget to plan for some fun cocktails or mocktails. You’ll need something to wash down the culinary masterpieces!

Don’t forget to plate your dishes – after all, cooking show judges never fail to penalize bad presentation.  Then sit down and enjoy the fruits of your labors while you make your critiques (gently, now!). Since this is all for fun, the losers need not pack their knives and go. But you might want to make them do the dishes!

Play a new (board) game!

There’s ALWAYS a new game on the market you’ve been wanting to try. Why not now? When else do you have countless hours on your hands to actually experiment with a new game?! Find it online, order it, and spend a few hours learning how to play it. Who knows – maybe you’ll become masters at it! Here are some fun games to play with multiple people:

    1. Apples to Apples
    2. Cards Against Humanity
    3. What do you Meme?
    4. Settlers of Catan
    5. Monopoly
    6. Clue
    7. Code Names
    8. Charades
    9. Pictionary
    10. Never Have I Ever

board game

Host a movie night!

We’ve all got that never-ending “to-watch” list. Sometimes, watching them with others is more fun than watching them alone! We’re sure that every couple has one. Why not share your list with another couple and find a movie or two (or five, we won’t judge) to binge-watch your night away together? Don’t forget to warm up your home and stock up on popcorn and hot chocolate!

Movie night

Outdoor Double Date Ideas

Attend a beer-brewing class!

When winter just won’t go away, and spring seems just a distant dream, it can be hard to drag yourself and your significant other out of the doldrums. You may find yourself hibernating indoors, doing the same old things. But that’s no way to spend the prime years of your life!

If you’re looking to shake things up, we recommend taking your next double date to a beer brewing class. Learn something new, and a few weeks later, you can open up a bottle of home brew and toast to your friendship – and your new hobby.

There are several options for brewing classes in the Chicago area.

The Pursuit Supply Company

Outdoor Double Date IdeasThe Pursuit Supply Company at 4316 W. Irving Park Road stocks supplies for all your quirky food-related DIY hobbies, and they also offer classes. In addition to beer brewing, you can take classes in photography, wine-making and coffee roasting!

Brew & Grow

Brew & Grow (3625 N. Kedzie Avenue) offers both beginning home brewer classes and advanced classes, should you decide this is a pastime you’d like to get explore further.

Gnome Brew

At Gnome Brew, 2026 W. Montrose Avenue, you can learn to brew your own beer in just one hour. If you really want to geek out on home brewing, you can also keep your eye on the shop’s events calendar for free public lectures. Other events include the home brew bottle share meet-ups they host on the second Thursday of every month.

Make It The Best

And if you’re looking for a memorable and light-hearted Valentine’s Day double date, Make It The Best at 9030 S. Hermitage Avenue has you covered with an evening of winemaking, dinner, and dancing on February 14. The shop also offers beer brewing and wine-making classes throughout the year.

Enjoy a great activity with friends and stock your fridge with drinks for the next get-together at the same time!

Take a food tour!

Chicago is well known for its extensive range of cuisine. While there are many well known stops, a lot of the best eateries are hidden away and hard to find without guidance. Taking one of the many famous food tours around the Chicago area can help you discover new favorites that you will keep coming back too, and who doesn’t love sharing the experience of good food?

Food tour, double date ideas
Image taken from chicagofoodplanet.com

Chicago Food Planet Tours

Chicago Food Planet Tours are critically acclaimed by sources like USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, and Bon Appetit. They have a range of different tours for you to choose from that include everything from tours of the West Loop to a Chinatown tour. These tours range anywhere from $50 per adult to $75 per adult, and take anywhere from about 2-3 hours. These are pretty extensive tours, with some of them taking you to 5 different locations!

Bobby’s Bike Hike

Private tour,, double date ideas
Image taken from bobbysbikehike.com

Are you and your double date looking for a bit more activity in your day? Bobby’s Bike Hike provides food tours both in a walking format and a biking format. One of their better known options is the Bikes, Bites & Brews tours that they provide, which are 4 hour 12-13 mile trips! Their walking tours are often within the 1-1.5 mile range, which makes them accessible to any level of physical fitness. The prices of these tours vary from $48.75 per adult to $69.75 per adult. They also offer private tours, if that is more your style.

Rebecca Wheeler’s Tours

If you and your double date are looking for something led by a specialist, Rebecca Wheeler’s tours are exquisite. Rebecca Wheeler is a traveler and a cooking instructor. She can lead you through Chicago’s neighborhoods and share her deep knowledge into the culture and history of the food and locations that you visit. All of these tours are private, which makes them much more intimate than a large group tour. Currently Rebecca offers tours of Argyle (Southeast Asian cuisine), Chinatown (Chinese cuisine), and Devon (Indian and Pakistani cuisine). For 4 adults, the price per adult would be $93.75, but this price lowers for every adult you bring with you!

Chicago Walks, double date ideas
Image taken from chicagofoodwalks.com

Geek out at the Adler Planetarium!

Adler After Dark

The Adler Planetarium hosts a popular 21+ event once a month that transforms the museum into a prime adult entertainment hotspot. You are allowed to peruse the museum itself in the company of other adults rather than the rambunctious families that usually occupy the space. If you have never been to the planetarium, they have a large variety of exhibits that are all expertly designed. The Astronomy in Culture exhibit takes you through the history of astronomy and teaches you about old tools like the astrolabe and how people used them before navigational technology existed.

Adler Planetarium
Image taken from adlerplanetarium.org

 

 

 

 

Chicago’s Night Sky

Another popular exhibit is Chicago’s Night Sky. It focuses on the problem of light pollution and how we can change our design philosophies to lessen the problem. This area includes the Historic Atwood Sphere that lets you see what the night sky would have looked like in 1913 without any light pollution. The Atwood Sphere is also the oldest planetarium on exhibit and recently got refurbished. Other popular attractions at the Adler Planetarium includes the Clark Family Welcome Gallery, the Community Design Labs, and the Doane Observatory. You also have access to unlimited sky shows in one of their state-of-the-art theaters.

Other Adler Events

Along with all of these great exhibits, the Adler Planetarium hosts live entertainment, lectures, and special guests depending on the theme of the month. They also provide themed alcoholic beverages, as well as food from their café. The food isn’t your usual basic fare. They often have an impressive menu including a hotbar stew, soup, and daily specials that range from turkey and goat cheese wraps to astro burgers. The price of these tickets are $25.00 per adult, but if you happen to be a member, they are only $12.50.

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Keeping Connections Strong

Keeping Connections Strong: 5 Ways to Socialize from a Distance

Social distancing. It’s a phrase we’re all sick of, but it doesn’t seem like it will be going away anytime soon. Keeping connections strong has become difficult. You may be ready to resume your normal social life. After all, there’s been quite a bit of discussion about how social distancing impacts mental health, and how to balance the risks with your emotional well-being. But your friends or your family may be taking a more conservative approach. Or maybe you’re not ready to reenter society, and your friends are. Whatever your comfort level, we have a few ideas for socializing and staying connected while maintaining those six feet of distance.

Eat

Have a pod picnic with your friends or family. Members of the same household can sit in “pods” spaced six feet from other pods. Being outdoors and bringing your own food will help you and your loved ones feel safe, while still being able to spend time together and catch up.red meal

Exercise

Go hiking. Again, being outdoors lessens any risks you may be worried about, and hiking six feet apart is not difficult to maintain. Plus, being outside and getting some exercise will lift your mood.

Read

Start a book club. This is a great way to socialize with people whose comfort level differs from your own. People who want to meet in person can do so, and those who prefer to stay virtual can join via video chat. Need an idea for the first read? Check out this list.Keeping Connections Strong

Engage

Start a neighborhood activity. A Chicagoland mom came up with the idea of a shamrock hunt for kids back in March. The post went viral and inspired people in other communities, as well. If you don’t know your neighbors, this is a great way to meet them. Try starting a non-holiday version of the popular “You’ve been Boo’d” Halloween game where people leave mystery packages for neighbors, with a note to do the same for the next person.

Think

Run a trivia night. This is also an activity that can be done both in-person and virtually, depending on people’s comfort levels. Don’t know how to start a trivia night? Check out this guide.

We hope that you find an activity to suit your comfort level and allow you to stay connected to friends and loved ones. Stay safe while keeping connections strong!

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Pandemic Safety: Socializing & Interacting Responsibly

While many of us have our physical health in mind right now for pandemic safety, we often forget that our mental health can also suffer during this time. Feelings of isolation and lack of socialization can harm our emotional wellbeing, but how do we reconcile that with the risk of meeting with friends?

If meeting in person isn’t necessary for you, virtual hangouts and dates have become immensely popular. With tools like Zoom and NetflixParty, couples and friends have started up different online activities to stay engaged while staying entirely safe. Some suggestions include book clubs, movie watching parties, and shared meals.

Some people prefer to meet and interact in person. If this is the case with you and your friends, it is important to weigh some risk factors. First, consider if anyone in the group or those they live with have a higher risk, such as an autoimmune disease. Also, take into account the activities you want to plan for. Outdoors events are safer, as are gatherings with fewer people that last shorter amounts of time. Of course, everyone must wear there mask as much as possible when together.

Socially distanced walking outside with masks is a low-risk way of interacting while still getting that in-person interactivity. You can catch up while also getting active, which is a challenge for many of us right now. Another great option is getting together in a park. In these public spaces, you can either have a relaxing chat or a bring-your-own-lunch picnic.

Regardless of how you choose to socialize during the pandemic, it is essential to adopt a harm-reduction philosophy. Balancing emotional wellbeing and your physical health is very difficult right now. Come up with a plan to safely and comfortably keep up with each other.

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Long-Distance Relationships

Long-Distance Relationship: 5 Tips for Making the Most Out of Them

Are you in a long-distance relationship? If so, you know that they can be extremely difficult, especially during a global pandemic. However, we know from experience that they can also be very rewarding.

The Downsides

Everyone knows the downsides of an LDR – you don’t get to spend as much time with your significant other as you would like. Rather than blossoming through shared experiences, the relationship’s focus on one-on-one conversation can become very intense very quickly.

The Benefits

But what about the benefits of an intercity, interstate, or intercountry relationship? Well, one of its potential downsides – intensity – is also one of its greatest benefits. The frequent phone calls, video chats, and e-mail conversations that are the hallmark of a long-distance relationship can allow couples to get to know one another deeply very quickly. This is great, but can get a little heavy at times.

Long-Distance Relationships

We’ve got some ideas to lighten up your LDR with shared experiences.

  1. Play games together online. Maybe you like chess, or you’re both trivia junkies. There are options for these, and many other games on the Internet.
  2. Read the same book and talk about it.
  3. Watch a movie or TV show at the same time.
  4. Surprise your significant other with a care package that references inside jokes, memories and your shared likes.
  5. Learn together. Why not try a language or a cooking class together? You can find a number of live group classes on the Internet.

And when you do get to see one another, get out and experience things together.

One thing that long-distance couples can find challenging is the lack of a shared social life. This is where Couplr can help you once meeting strangers is popular and safe again! Create social connections during your visits by meeting your perfect couple match on our app. The time spent with other couples can push you out of your comfort zones and into uncharted, and thrilling, territory where you will grow together.

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Helping Others

Helping Others: 5 Tips for Staying Sane through the Process

It’s summer, the weather is beautiful, and you want to be hanging out with your loved ones. Only, the coronavirus is still out there.

It can be easy to get down in the dumps about social distancing. If we’re not careful, the strain can really take its toll. We’ve brought you ideas for socializing from a distance, taking care of yourself, and using creativity to bolster your relationships.

As the pandemic continues, here are a few more ideas to help you get through this time by helping others. Read on for our top 5 ideas for staying sane while giving back.

1 Write a letter

An actual handwritten letter put in an envelope with a stamp on it. Letters are rare these days. How excited would you be to find one in your mailbox? That’s what we thought. Write to a friend or family member and make their day.

Helping Others

2 Donate

You can donate your time or your resources. UChicagoMedicine has a list of places that can use donations including food, supplies, and even blood, which is needed now more than ever

3 Pick up trash.

There might not be as much of it lying around as during a normal summer, but beautifying your neighborhood’s parks and green spaces is a great way to give back while staying socially distant.

4 Check in on your friends and neighbors

Especially the elderly and those who live alone. You never know what someone might be going through. Your phone call or email could lift someone’s spirits on a difficult day.

5 Volunteer

Food banks and other community organizations always need volunteers. Social services around the country have been working overtime to provide food to families whose children depend on school meals for nutrition, and they are in need of volunteers. Spending a few hours helping others will help lift your spirits amid uncertainty.

Sometimes looking out for others is a form of self-care. We hope these tips have given you ideas for taking care of your community and yourself at the same time. Stay well and healthy.

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