I recently celebrated my 20th anniversary and posted some of my marriage tips. One tip I didn’t include but that I think is really important is to enjoy regular date nights with your spouse. I didn’t include the tip because although my husband and I have enjoyed many great dates together, we have always been bad at making them a regular part of our schedule. The only time we succeeded in sticking to a schedule was when we signed up for ballroom dancing lessons and were committed to a class schedule. We had a blast, by the way, which is why dance class is at the top of the list.
Like most parents, the normal, hectic pace of everyday life and the demands of the kids (and guilt over leaving them) are what interfered with our ability to stick to a once-a-week date night. Sometimes the problem was money. When you have kids, you not only have to afford the date, but also the babysitter which can double the cost of the evening. And then, when we finally talked ourselves into date night, we’d be stuck trying to figure out what we were going to do. Sure, dinner and a movie is a fun night out, but after two decades of marriage you like to switch things up a little. Well, I can’t help you be less busy or have more money (actually, I can—that’s the whole purpose of this website so surf around it a little for pointers on those areas), but in a single article, I can give you lots of ideas so that when you and your spouse finally plan date night you won’t abandon the idea just because you don’t know what to do.
Date Night Ideas
Whether or not you like dancing, taking a ballroom dance class together is a lot of fun and will bring you and your spouse closer (literally and emotionally). Some of the benefits are that:
- Signing up for classes locks you into a weekly commitment to stick to date night
- You’ll learn a new skill that you can break out at weddings and high school reunions
- It establishes a firm line between the masculine and feminine role (sometimes it’s nice for your husband to feel like he’s in charge)
- They’re typically not very expensive
No matter where you live, you can probably find a convenient place to take dance classes together. Just do an internet search (e.g. for dance classes in los angeles). We signed up through our local parks and recreation service, but many dance studios also offer dancing classes for couples. Don’t worry, you won’t be limited to waltzing. Depending on where you live, you might be able to sign up for swing dancing, country line dancing, or salsa lessons.
If dancing REALLY isn’t your thing, see if there’s another class you can take that you would both enjoy. Most community centers offer a wide variety including photography, cooking, and learning to speak a foreign language.
If you live in a big city, you’ll have more options, but even small towns have bars or restaurants that will occasionally feature comedians. This is a fun way to enjoy an evening out that is a variation on dinner and a movie. The livelier environment will encourage more interaction between you and your spouse than a movie theater would. If you can’t find a comedy act, a karaoke bar is another option. The singers won’t be intentionally trying to laugh, though you might laugh more here than at a comedy club.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a date, you can enjoy a romantic evening together by simply changing your location. My husband and I love going on picnics together since he loves to be outdoors and I love food. By taking your meal on the go to a quiet, peaceful location, you’ll be able to enjoy each other’s company and talk freely (something that is sometimes hard to do with a bunch of little ears surrounding you).
The purpose of having date night with your spouse is to enjoy alone time with him or her free from distractions and other stressors. Simply walking out your front door can accomplish this. If you want to up the romance factor, drive to a scenic location and stroll there (e.g. historic downtown area, nature trail, or lakeside path).
Geocaching or Letterboxing
It’s like a scavenger hunt for grown-ups. You’ll get to explore new places or discover places you thought you knew in a different way and you’ll work together while you do it.
Even if you don’t live in wine country, a lot of restaurants and wine shops offer wine tastings. Not only will you get the opportunity to discover new wine, but you’ll learn more about what your spouse likes and perhaps discover new similarities.
You don’t have to be in the market for a new house to go house hunting. As a couple, this is a great way to discuss what you each envision for your future and to learn about what aspects of daily living are most important to each of you. Have some courtesy for real estate agents though and limit your house hunting to open houses and model homes.
If you can’t find a bunch of open houses to attend, furniture shopping can be just as fun. If you hit antique stores, you might even find a project you can work on together.
Visit a Travel Agent
Planning your future vacations is half the fun of the vacation (and the least expensive part too). Visit a travel agent or go to the library and explore the travel section. Spend your date planning your next vacation or your dream vacation.
Make a Time Capsule
Collect items from around your home or town; take pictures of favorite items, locations, stores; and write a note to your future selves. This is a fun and easy way to make a memento for the future and also to discover more about each other.
Attend a Sporting Event
If you don’t live within driving distance of a major city, it can be just as fun to go to a minor league game or even a local high school sporting event. You don’t have to have a high schooler to cheer on the football team. The camaraderie, lively environment, and built-in entertainment will be a nice change from sitting on the couch at home watching a movie.
Participate in a Sporting Event
If there’s an activity that you both enjoy, do it together, whether it’s tennis, golf, bowling, soccer, volleyball or baseball. You can go out alone together for one night and work on skills (e.g. batting cages or driving range) or you can join a co-ed intramural to ensure regular date nights (and regular exercise!).
If you have kids, sometimes having the house to yourselves isn’t just rare—it’s impossible. If this sounds like your house, why not coordinate sleepovers for each of the kids at other people’s houses so you can enjoy an evening in without interruptions or distractions.
See a Live Performance
Whether it’s the live taping of a television show, a production of Phantom of the Opera at the local dinner theater, or the high school drama club’s rendition of West Side Story, no matter where you live you should be able to find a live performance you can attend that will be a deviation from the latest romantic comedy or action film showing at the movie theater.
Festivals or Fairs
Watch your local paper for upcoming festivals, carnivals, and fairs. There’s always plenty of food and entertainment, not to mention many opportunities to people watch, at these events.
If you’re like us, you may have a lot of pictures but not very many of them have both you and your spouse in them since one of you is usually holding the camera. Book a photo shoot for just the two of you to give yourselves a reason to get dressed up and to also gather a collection of photographs that include both of you. Don’t want to splurge on a photographer? Head out with a camera and hand it off to strangers in different locations to snap shots of you together.
Head out to the back yard or a local park at night with a cozy blanket, some wine or hot cocoa, and look up at the stars.
Breakfast or Lunch
If your evenings are just too busy, make a standing date for breakfast or lunch. You get the same benefit of alone time with your spouse but at a time that is more convenient for you and for a price that is significantly lower than what you’d pay for dinner out.
Kid Stuff without the Kids
You spend a lot of time finding ways to entertain your kids. Activities are fun for the whole family are equally fun as a couple, but a completely different experience. Here are some examples:
- Amusement Parks
- Apple or Berry Picking
- Miniature Golf
- Corn Maze
- Ice Skating or Roller Skating
These are some of the things we have done. I’m sure you’ve tried some of them yourself but hopefully you’ve found at least one or two new ideas. I’m always looking for more ideas (20 years is a long time to keep the flame lit!) so please share your favorite date ideas in the comments.