Date night. Whether you are in a serious relationship or have been married for 20 years, date night is a must. Date nights help you reconnect to your partner and enjoy your relationship. Date night can work wonders for your relationships — but a few guidelines should be followed.
- Date night is with your partner, no one else. The time must be blocked off in advance. Let your work and friends know you are not available. It's best not to attend social events — it's just about the two of you.
- Devote the whole night to date night. This isn't a lunch break; it's an evening to enjoy each other.
- Date night is not about doing chores, so no housework and no children. It's best to arrange for a sitter.
- Keep up with date nights! Try to have one once a week or at least once a month.
Several studies have shown that keeping up with date nights help bring the butterflies back. More recent studies show that injecting novelty into the relationship and trying new things together activates the brain activity and floods it with the same chemicals that are present during the early romance stages of love.
But date night can be expensive. You start thinking of fancy dinners and expensive shows, babysitters, etc., and that can cause stress in the relationship. Starting date night off fighting about gas prices and restaurant costs is not going to fire–up your relationship in the way you want.
Just think of dinner and a movie in today’s world. Gas prices alone will set back date night, with gas nearing five dollars a gallon in some states. The frustration of driving around town can crush your night. Then you get to dinner: you might have to valet or pay for a parking garage, and order a nice bottle of wine. You have to tip 15 percent on top of that. So dinner has now cost you a bundle of cash and you head off to the movie. Okay, you know where this is going.
So here are five great ways to enjoy each other and still have money to send the kids to college.
Let's revisit that expensive dinner
You can create the same romantic feel at home for much less money. Dust off the china plates, light some votive candles, play some soft music and let the romance take over. You can cook at home or get your favorite take out. Also while the wine is one of my favorite parts of date night — it can really add up. That expensive bottle of wine at the restaurant is usually marked up anywhere from 2 – 3 times the actual cost. So buy that bottle of wine at the liquor store. One thing my husband and I love to do is to remember wine we had at restaurants on special occasions, birthdays, anniversaries, etc., and then buy them at the store and save them for date nights.
Alright, dinner is over and it's time to snuggle up to a great movie. An average movie ticket is around seven dollars, and in some cities can cost up to 12 dollars. Throw in the popcorn and soda and we are getting pretty pricey. So forget about the theater. Your homemade popcorn is less expensive and tastier anyway. The week of date night, check what movies are playing on your cable stations and movie channels and record them on your DVR or Tivo. I like to look at the movies on demand as well; those are usually five dollars or less to purchase. Don't see a movie you want to watch? Then head to the local movie shop and rent movies from the year you met. A bonus if you can remember the first movie you saw together! A more adventurous alternative? In almost every city they have a movie in the park night. Make a picnic, get there early to pick out the best spot and enjoy your dinner in the park. Check the alcohol policy to see if you might be able to bring in a bottle of wine. These movie nights are free, or only a few bucks.
Check out museum/local exhibit or just something new!
This is one of my favorites! Most cities have lots of museums and exhibits. There is the MOMA, the Exploratoriums or aquariums, and the entrance fee is much less than a show or Opera. Prices range from free to 20 dollars, so check the price before you head out. Try a game of tennis at a public court (usually free), a round of golf at a public course (average $36) or even take out a kayak or rowboat ($15-$35)
Take a class together
Trying something new together is sure to get those butterflies fluttering. Take an art class together, or a dance class, or learn a new language. There are some inexpensive classes at most community centers or universities. These courses usually last 4-8 weeks, so that will help keep you committed to date nights! There are also some fun cooking classes that can be a little pricier, but a great alternative. I found a dance class online for 6 weeks at a local college for about $40 a person.
Take a personal day
The excitement of playing hooky alone is sure to get the chemistry flowing. The act of spending an entire day alone together is very powerful! Don't do chores or run errands. Stay in your pajamas all day, watch movies, order take out, lay by the pool and play games!
The real point here is that couples need to feel that burning connection that brought them together and to be reminded that they are more than two people raising a house full of children.