Ok, you are married now. You are officially “taken.” Your days are now filled with work, doing household chores, paying bills, worrying about finances, taking care of children. By the end of the day you are exhausted and spending quality time with your spouse gets put on the back burner, after all, he or she is in this with you and should understand how demanding life has become. A quick kiss when you both arrive home from work, before both moving on to household responsibilities is now considered a “date.”
As busy as your life is, dating your spouse is just as important, if not more important, as it was before you were married - if you want to stay married. Spending time alone, sharing dreams, making plans for the future, laughing together all help you feel connected to one another. While you might think you just don’t have time or that you can’t afford to spend money on dates, carving out time for your marriage is well worth the effort…and there are plenty of ways to have a date without spending money.
If you aren’t sure where or how to start, the following tips might help:
Remember, there is no such thing as a perfect date. What makes a date great is unique to each couple, and sometimes to each individual. Some couples might like a romantic dinner out and then a movie or play afterwards; others might prefer a walk in the park. Relax and find activities reflect yours and your spouse’s likes.
Incorporate what you did when you were first dating into some of your dates. You don’t need to actually recreate early dates, but incorporating some of the things you did can rekindle memories and make time spent together even more special.
Take turns planning dates. If you are the only one who takes the initiative and plans what you are going to do, you might end up feeling resentful that “date night” has only added one more responsibility on your plate. By sharing the responsibility, both of you spend time focused on the relationship and each other.
Keep in mind dates don’t need to be expensive or even cost anything. A date should be a block of time when you and your partner give each other your undivided attention. It can be strolling through the park, taking a drive, going to flea markets or staying home with a bottle of wine and a movie. Focusing on each other is much more important than the money you spend.
Find ways to learn new things together. Many couples say they have grown closer when they took a class together or started a new hobby. Some ideas include classes in cooking, dancing, photography or gardening. Make sure your new skill doesn’t become a competition between the two of you where one person wants to be “better.”
Make the mundane special. Are your weekends filled with running errands? Try making a list of all the errands and then do them together, starting with having breakfast together. Stop along the way at a favorite store, restaurant, flea market or park. Use the time in the car to talk about plans for the future or to continue learning about what makes your spouse tick.
No matter what you decide to do for your date, remember to schedule “just the two of us” time each week. This might be after your kids are tucked in bed or while a relative watches them for a few hours. Add it to your calendar and be proactive in making sure nothing interferes with this time. Let each other know that spending time together is a priority.
For ideas on what to do on dates, check out more HealthCentral articles:
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.