Photo by Amy Paulson Photography
Written by Peg Theobald
“A successful marriage is not something that just magically happened. It’s something that was built upon years of love, patience, loyalty, kindness, passion and understanding.” – Unknown
After having our second child, my husband and I were struggling in our relationship. Of course, the lack of sleep, the postpartum hormonal roller coaster and all the adjustments that come with a new baby were not making matters any easier. We had some really difficult moments and we courageously pressed forward through really hard conversations(If you want to hear more about our story, head to my blog to read my “Sometimes Marriage is Hard” series.)
Things improved, especially, after we attended a marriage conference and started regularly connecting with an older couple who became our marriage mentors. This couple, Brett and Carol Ray, taught us to prioritize a weekly date night as they believe it is key to developing and maintaining a strong marital bond.
Brett shares a weekly eNewsletter with marriage and family tips and just recently he wrote about the importance of a weekly date night. He stated that date night is “more than a cute idea.” In fact, he added, “it’s been a marriage saver for us.”
There are many hurdles in the way of making date night a regular, weekly thing (especially once kids are in the picture) — finances, child care and time are all common obstacles. However, having a regular, weekly date night IS possible and does not have to be costly.
Here are my 7 Tips for Making Date Night Affordable and Fun:
- Date Night at Home: Date night doesn’t have to involve a babysitter or even leaving the house. My husband and I have done plenty of “at home date nights” and they can be just as special as a night out on the town. Just make sure to plan something special or fun at home to make the night feel different than a typical evening. Once your kids go to bed, you could cook dinner together, play a two-person game, put together a fancy cheese board, or get a new movie to watch from Redbox.
- Babysitting Swap: If you want to get out of the house for date night, but the cost of a babysitter is too much — try asking a friend or relative to do a babysitting swap with you. Set up a time where you take turns watching each other’s kids so you can get a night out. Lots of local gyms and recreational facilities also offer “Kids Night Out” where parents can drop off their kids for a fun night of games and dinner (for a reasonable fee), and the parents get a night out, too.
- Thrifty Restaurant Tips: Going out to eat doesn’t have to cost you an arm and leg. If you are on a tight budget, look for weekly specials or happy hour deals and plan your date night accordingly. You can also check Groupon (or similar sites) for restaurant coupons and deals. Last but not least, my husband and I LOVE experiencing “hole in the wall” diners. We also love trying out a variety of ethnic cuisine restaurants, many of which are less expensive than your standard “New American” cuisine restaurant. Our favorites in Grand Rapids include: Chez Olga (Haitian food), Mi Casa Restaurante (Dominican cuisine), 7 Mares (Mexican food) and GoJo Ethiopian Cuisine.
- MoviePass: If going to see movies is your thing, you know how quickly a trip to the theatre adds up. MoviePass is a rather new subscription service that allows you to pay a flat fee of $9.95/month for unlimited movies. As their website says, “Any theater, any movie, any day.” It’s like Netflix for the movie theatre and somehow it works! I know this sounds too good to be true, but we have been subscribing to MoviePass for a few months now and LOVE it!
- Get Outside: Perhaps one of the best (and most affordable) ideas for a date, is to simply get outside. There are so many ways you can enjoy an outdoor date. From biking together, going for a walk around a lake or playing a two-person game, like tennis or mini-golf. Most mini-golf courses are quite inexpensive, and believe it or not, my husband and I have had some of our most fun dates playing mini golf. It’s a fun way to be (playfully) competitive and silly together.
- Coffee Shops or Breweries: Whether you enjoy drinking a decaf latte in the evening or trying out a microbrewery, simply going out for a drink with your partner is another fun, affordable date night idea. We enjoy bringing a cribbage board to coffee shops for a cheap date idea. We have also been working our way through this book called All About Us, which helps us learn more about each other (even after being together for over a decade now). It’s the perfect book to bring with you for an activity at a coffee/tea shop or brewery.
- Look for Free Events: Check out your city (or a nearby city) website to find free activities and events. The Grand Rapids Art Museum offers free admission every Thursday night from 5-9pm. There are also free live music events like Jazz in the Park on Mondays and Meijer Garden’s Tuesday evening summer concerts, just to name a few. Even if you live in a small town, there are sure to be occasional free city events and concerts. Take advantage of those opportunities for an affordable date night idea!
There you have it! Seven ideas to help make date night more affordable and doable. Who is ready to start prioritizing date night to help build/maintain a strong relationship with your spouse/partner?
Peg Theobald is a local mom blogger, honestly sharing her everyday #momlife on Instagram @the.honest.mom. Peg loves iced coffee, dance parties and exercise endorphins. She enjoys exploring the Grand Rapids food scene and has yet to meet a cheese she didn’t like. Follow her blog at www.pegtheobald.com.