If you are anything like me, you don't have a lot of disposable income for grand date nights at the opera or dining out at five-star restaurants hobnobbing with celebrities. Might be nice once in a while, but in the real world that is a dream unattainable by most. Often our schedules are so full many of us struggle to make time with our spouse a priority. It's not usually that we don't want to spend quality time together, but we can get so caught up in other good things like work, family, ministry, etc. that our spouses end up on the back burner.
Some research reveals that each day couples spend roughly 55 minutes watching television, 30 minutes eating, 24 carrying out housework and 16 minutes on their social life.
So how can we spend more time with our spouses when we have kids who live at home (I homeschool, so my children are always with me), or your husband who works long hours far from home, or both husband and wife work outside the home? Date night. Just because we are not "dating" any more doesn't mean we shouldn't spend "date-like" time with our spouses. In fact, there are good reasons for doing exactly that! "According to the United States National Marriage Project, couples, who even find one day a week to go out together have much less chance of winding up in the divorce courts than those who don’t – only 15 percent compared to 25 percent. Couples who have regular date nights score much higher in terms of a range of critical measures, including communication with each other, romantic love and commitment to the relationship. They also tend to carry significantly lower levels of stress."
And date night doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. Need a few inexpensive suggestions? Here are some cheap (but priceless!) dates I've gone on with my husband, as well as ideas shared by friends.
Midnight Picnic in Bed
At one point my husband worked nights and got home at 1:30 in the morning. I would make a snack and set up a picnic on our bed. Now, all my neat readers are thinking, "Eating in bed and making crumbs is not an option--especially not a romantic one." But try spreading a blanket out to catch any crumbs that you can just fold up and toss in the wash afterward. Our midnight picnics in bed gave us a great time to reconnect, without the TV and while the kids were fast asleep.
Window Shopping for Two
Find a sitter for an hour or so and go walk around a store you BOTH enjoy! Don't drag him to the candle store or let him drag you to the hunting store if they are not places you both like to shop. My husband and I have very different tastes in stores, but we agree on a few. Target is a good one that has lots of interesting stuff. Cabela's and Bass Pro Shop are also two of our favorites. I happen to like looking at guns and camping equipment even though I do not hunt or like camping that much. Lots of places have little snack areas so you can get a drink and sit, or talk while you wander around.
Coffee Shop Break
Just getting a cup of coffee or tea and sitting together for awhile can be magic for a couple that is overwhelmed with daily life. Choose an out of the way spot to park and drink homemade, or dip into your local Dunkin' Donuts for some inexpensive quality time together.
Take a Walk--Together
Choose a park with a walking path and go for a walk or if you live near a beach, walk there. Not power walk mind you, this is not the time to get in your workout. It is time to reconnect with your spouse. If your kids are old enough to leave at home, try taking a leisurely walk around your neighborhood. You can still reconnect with your spouse, but feel comfortable knowing you are close by if the kids need you.
Dinner and a Redbox
Lots of inexpensive options for dinner these days don't involve a drive-thru. Check out 2 for 1 dinner specials or share an appetizer. Portions at most places are enough to share. If your budget is really tight, consider a breakfast or lunch date. They are unusually cheaper than dinner. Then on your way home--no matter what time--grab a Redbox and get in lots of cuddling and snuggling on the couch during the movie.
Find something that you both like and do it together! Don't pick watching tv unless there is lots of cuddling and snuggling involved! (See above.) My husband and I like to go target shooting together, but you and your spouse might like bowling, surfing, biking, or something else. Whatever it is, make it something you both enjoy!
Get Aways for Marrieds
This option may not exactly be inexpensive, but you can find great marriage getaways where a little sacrifice and planning could make one fit your budget. The effort would be so worth it! Sandy Cove in Maryland hosts two marriage events each year, one in February and one in November, which I highly recommend. My husband and I are actually going in November this year for our anniversary. Focus on the Family's Weekend to Remember is another good one. They happen all over the country all year long. Believe me, the cost is a worthwhile investment in your marriage.
Start with these ideas to get your creativity flowing. What are some of your favorite inexpensive date night ideas? 16 minutes certainly isn't a lot. I'd love to hear some of your ideas for making the most of the time we spend with our spouses.