You know dating your spouse is good for your marriage. But in the midst of raising kids and balancing commitments, have you put dating on the back burner? It's time to save the date! Do something fun together, just the two of you.
The good news is that you don't have to make elaborate plans or spend a ton of money to have a great time together. Take your cue from these creative ideas — compiled from a recent Focus on the Family Facebook contest. With these low-cost (or no-cost), easy-to-plan dates, you can make memories together without blowing your family budget.
One evening my husband took me out on a surprise date. My wheels were turning trying to think of what he was up to when we pulled into Starbucks, ordered coffee and grabbed a table.
I figured we would just sit and chat, catching up on each other's day. To my surprise, he pulled out a stack of 3x5 cards and said we were going to play a little game. He had written a question on each card: What is something your spouse does very well but doesn't know he does well? What is your favorite joke? What's a childhood memory you'll never forget?
One of us would pull a card and read the question. Then the other would answer. We took turns reading and answering until we were at the bottom of the stack. We laughed. We dreamed. We reminisced.
A cup of coffee, some 3x5 cards, and I can honestly say it was our best date ever!
—Emily Peterson, Virginia
A Stroll Down Memory Lane
My husband and I have two little ones, so we don't get much time away together. One great way we enjoy couple time is by spending an evening at home with special food and memories.
I make some of our favorite finger foods to enjoy after the kids go to bed. We lay a blanket on the floor, light a few candles and watch a home movie — our wedding, kids' birthdays, family vacations. We also have old photo albums or yearbooks close by to continue the reminiscing and giggling!
Remembering the happy moments, laughter and tears is the perfect way to reconnect and just be together.
—Lisa Carey, Idaho
Gift Cards & Coupons
My husband and I combine the gift cards and various coupons in our wallets to create our own frugal date night. Using what we've accumulated, we map out all the places we can go to spend our gift cards and coupons. Between stops, we enjoy lots of conversation. This is a great way to have a fun date and clean out our wallets — while keeping the cash!
—Dionne Marriot, Texas
Romance on a Rooftop
One of my favorite dates is when my husband and I climb up onto our roof with some blankets, a radio and a sweet snack. There, under the stars and moonlight, we can talk, snuggle and listen to the radio. It is romantic, free and something we can do anytime, weather permitting.
—April Walker, Florida
My husband and I share a love for movies. So I came up with an idea that would allow us to go "out" to the movies for almost no money at all. After we've put the kids to bed, we grab the baby monitor and go to the "Driveway Theatre." With a warm blanket, a couple of sodas from the fridge and a big bowl of popcorn, we watch a movie on our laptop computer while sitting in our car. We take turns picking the feature presentation from a DVD, Netflix or Hulu (since we're still in range of our Internet connection). In our own driveway, we get to experience everything a real date at the theater has to offer—with less cost and more privacy. Plus, I get to wear my pajamas!
—Nikki Stansel, Oregon
Exchanging Vows — Hallmark Style
You would think that, after 10 years of marriage and three children, my husband and I would have said it all. Not true. For date night, we have chosen to spend some time in the card aisle at our local grocery store.
We look the cards over and find one for each other — sometimes humorous, sometimes sweet but never dull. We do not show each other the card we've selected ... yet. First, we go to a fast-food place and order sodas. Then we fill out the cards and exchange our most current "vows."
—Sarah Webb, Arizona
With seven kids between us, date nights for my husband and me are rare treasures that require creativity and planning. Money is always tight in our large household, so recently I came up with the "Dollar Date."
To begin our evening, I suggested a "dollar menu" dinner. We only ordered things that were $1, and our total dinner was six bucks! We then went to the local dollar store and each purchased two treats to share. After that treasure hunt, we headed to the dollar theater and saw a great movie.
We laughed and enjoyed our evening, knowing that we had stayed well within our limited budget. And we had treats left over to share with the kids when we got home!
We will be doing the "Dollar Date" on a regular basis. I love the challenge of planning dates that eliminate the stress of overspending. And I know my thrifty husband appreciates my effort. That doubles the enjoyment of our evenings out!
—Kari Long, Alabama
A Romantic Evening at Home
After arranging to send the kids to Grandma's house for the night, I pick up groceries and flowers from the store. While my wife takes a bubble bath, I cook dinner for her and serve it by candlelight.
Afterward, we enjoy dancing in our living room or watching a romantic comedy while munching popcorn. Eventually we fall asleep in each other's arms while watching the flicker of the fireplace. It's not elaborate, but it's what she likes, and it hardly costs a thing.
—Travis Oran, Florida