Do you remember date night? I have to admit that, 19 years and 2 kids later, my wife and I don’t take a lot of dates. It is such a headache with a busy chaotic life these days and corona got us all down; add kids and kiss the romantic evenings goodbye! In all fairness, I am writing this as much for me as any of you guys, so know this is not just a generic article. Everyone remembers fondly that dating period, when everything was fresh and new. You stayed up giggling and laughing all night long, even if you had to go to work feeling half dead. You talked for long hours and stared lovingly at each other without a word sometimes. You held hands like school kids everywhere you went, no one had any question about the fact that you guys were in love. Fast forward a couple of years, you both work full time jobs but the time off is yours and you still sneak in date nights regularly. You still do silly, almost childish things that all the “old married” people just roll their eyes about. It's ok, they are just jealous or embarrassed that they acted like that a long time ago. I am sorry to say that, for a lot of them, it was a long time ago. Jump forward a few more years now. Careers have grown, you both work a lot more hours because of the bills you created trying to upgrade your life (its normal). There are a lot less nights out because you are both chasing your dreams, hopefully still together, and are often like two ships passing in the night. Maybe you had kids, they require a lot of time and focus to do it right. There is laundry, meals to cook, lawns to mow, the kid is playing on the floor putting everything in their mouth. Diapers need to be changed and bills still have to be paid. Instead of wild passionate romance all over every room in the house, rendezvous get rushed (which can be exciting, at first) and by the end of the day when the kid is finally asleep, all you want to do is stop and crash.
The most important thing you can do is not give up now. You love each other and you are both tired, but relationships take work. Your relationship being healthy is one of the most important things you can accomplish for success in every facet of your life. Don’t make the common mistakes like so many of us have (including me). You are a fixer and it is time to fix this.
Let me throw in one tip before I share with you 5 budget friendly dates to keep the romance fires burning. Find a great babysitter! I didn’t do this and it was one of the worst mistakes I ever made in my marriage. I felt like a bad parent leaving my kid with someone else and going out.
YOU ARE NOT A BAD PARENT FOR PRIORITIZING YOUR MARRIAGE! In fact you are doing one of the very best things you can do for your kids.
So here we go: 5 budget friendly dates to keep the romance fires burning.
1. Drop your kids off with a sitter; go home and turn off all the lights and electronics (no phones, tablets etc.) like you had a power outage. Eat a picnic on the floor by candle light and see where the evening goes
Maybe you experienced this early in your marriage or maybe not, but power outages were awesome! Blankets, finger foods and candle light, leads to great conversations, some laughs and even sometimes a little amour. Take everything else out of the equation and just have some “US” time.
2. Go for a picnic! For an added bonus, walk or hike there together and watch the sun set or rise.
Too cliché’? There is a reason you see it in so many movies and books. Every couple article written seems to throw it into the mix; there is a reason, it works. Leave the phones on silent and stay off the phones in general. Doing this simple thing together brings a togetherness that is incredible. And don’t count walking for exercise as strolling together for a walk, different entirely.
****** I am going to stop here and say, leave the phones down and out of the equation except in case of emergency. Also all these involve leaving your kids (who are great, just like mine are) with someone else. If I have to type that with every idea this is going to get incredibly long saying the same thing repeatedly. *********
3. Go to a drive-in movie. They still exist.
Big bonus if it is one like I used to go to where you get a double feature for the price of one. Bigger bonus if they are movies you don’t care if you see or have seen before. Park in the back or far side and make out like a bunch of high school kids. You are the only one who wants this spot, so get there early. Watching the movie is optional.
4. Go try a new coffee spot together
Pressed on time, I get it, it is difficult to take time out for more than an hour sometimes. This one is easy as coffee places pop up like ants at a picnic. If it is drive-thru find a park to sit at. Roll the windows down, hold hands and enjoy your beverage. You don’t even have to like coffee, most of them have several other choices as well.
5. Do something off your normal radar together. Check out your local paper and see what is in the arts section. Go to a local theater production, or a school play. Hit an art gallery opening or a local open mic night. Maybe a poetry reading. Find something totally outside your norm and go try it. Experiencing new things outside of either of your normal routine brings a closeness you may have not felt in a while. Even if the venue sucks, you can at least laugh together.
Note: Number 3 maybe not possible for you as the amount of these are dwindling (although I am hoping covid brings a resurgence in their popularity)
* While a little more expensive, have a high school level restaurant tour. Go to a different restaurant for each course and order only 1 course. Go for a 6 or 7 course meal. 6 courses, 6 restaurants. It will take a few hours but with a little planning it can be awesome!
Your relationship is incredibly important, success there breeds success everywhere else in your life. Don’t let life get in the way and if it does, fix it. It really is not that much work since you already love the person. Just put a little fun back into it and you will be amazed at how much of a difference it makes.
Thanks for spending some time with me today and remember,
Be better tomorrow because of what you do today!