I was blessed today to spend time alone with the man I love. I know many couples who make this a priority, but I know more couples who don't. I know that life is busy and hectic, and, from what I am told, the older your kids get, the busier life gets until they are grown and gone, which makes date nights more and more challenging, but never impossible. I have also been told by mature, wise couples that the best way to keep a marriage healthy is to make dating your spouse a priority. I've been to marriage conferences and seminars at which the same thing was said. Someone once went as far as to suggest we should have a weekly date night for which we should hire a sitter and go somewhere. I don't see that ever being realistic, but I also don't understand how couples can keep their marriages fresh when dates are not a part of their routine. In this business of being parents, we will one day find ourselves without our children in our home. When that day comes, I want to know my husband better than I did before we had children, better than I do today. How can I expect to be looking at anyone other than a stranger if I don't take the time to know him better?
I am grateful for our times alone. With everything that is pressing down upon us right now, we made it a priority to not talk about anything stressful while we were on our date. We talked about our hopes, dreams and priorities. We talked about loving each other. Yes, we talked about the kids. Don't all parents talk about the kids when they're away from them? We held hands. We sat close to each other. We didn't want the evening to end. It's been too long since we've had such an opportunity. We would love to have a full weekend to ourselves sometime, but I know that won't be happening at least until the end of June with soccer season in full swing. For now, the occasional date is going to have to work for us.
If you haven't made dating your spouse a priority, surprise them by planning a special night just for the two of you. If you don't think you can afford it (We can't financially swing it right now, so, in our case, we were blessed with a restaurant.com gift certificate which friends gave to us. Check out their website for great deals on local restaurants!), here are some inexpensive or free ideas for dates with the most important man or woman in your life!
- Take the kids to Grandma's and stay home. Rent your favorite movies. Cook a meal together from scratch, and make something neither of you has ever made. Eat by candlelight. Play "your song" and dance. Sleep-in together the next morning. Whoever is awake first can bring the other spouse breakfast in bed.
- Go someplace that has a "Happy Hour" special like Sonic. Every day from 2-4, drinks are half price. Leave your kids with a neighbor or friend for an hour and head to "Happy Hour." Count pennies if you have to. It'll cost you a buck or two to sip a vanilla coke or cherry limeade with your spouse, but you'll have a whole hour to remember why you love him or her so much. Want to make it a longer date? Take a drive in the country while sipping your favorite drink.
- Visit a local park and take a picnic lunch. Sit on a blanket under a tree and enjoy some uninterrupted time with your spouse and nature. Note: Find a tree that is nowhere near the playground. ;)
- Do you like to play games? Head to a coffee shop or McDonalds if you prefer soda and spend a couple hours playing a game of cards while sipping an inexpensive beverage. Who says dating your spouse has to be expensive?
- Check local museums for free admission days and plan a date during that time.
- Gallery hop. Here in Columbus, you can go gallery hopping in the Short North for free. There are several art galleries in the Short North as well as many interesting shops that you won't find anywhere else in the city. If you don't live in Columbus, look for the same kind of thing where you live. Most cities have somewhere interesting to window shop.
- Free summer concert series are all over the place. Check your local library or your city's website to find one in your area.
- Go hiking or biking or boating or roller skating or whatever you like! Getting fit with the one you love is a great way to form a bond with each other!
I don't really see any reason not to do something to make dating your spouse a priority. If you don't like my ideas, share your own ideas in the comments. Eric and I ideally like to go on a date once a month, but it has been more like every-other month lately. We're working on getting back to our regular once a month schedule. Maybe I'll blog each month so that you can hear about our dates. Maybe that'll encourage us to get more creative!
This month, as I previously mentioned, we used a restaurant.com certificate to go to a great restaurant which we had never visited. O'Shaughnessy's Public House in the Arena District is fantastic!!! Everything in the restaurant was crafted in Ireland so that the restaurant would be authentically Irish. Apparently, the Arena District was once the Irish District of Columbus, something neither of us knew. We learned a lot about the history of that part of town while enjoying a great meal alone at a fantastic local restaurant. I say "alone" because we were the only ones there when we first arrived, but that didn't last long. On event nights, the place is packed. We went before the evening rush, and there was no event at the arena tonight. It was a great, early evening to enjoy the atmosphere without the crowd in our own little corner booth. If you want to try O'Shaughnessy's, use a restaurant.com certificate to save yourself money. Ours was given to us, but now that we've discovered this website, it's going to be a go-to site for us from now on!Please share your date ideas! We like to do new things and see new places when we go out. Help us keep our marriage a priority!