It’s no secret that marriage takes work. Our relationships usually start out with a lot of date nights — a fun romantic season that sweeps us off our feet. When that fun feeling stops, a lot of couples start questioning was it ever really there? And that can be a scary feeling, but what you don’t water doesn’t grow. All you have to do is decide to water!
Keeping up the connection with your spouse doesn’t magically happen. It takes effort and work to cultivate it long term, and that’s totally normal! At around year eight of our marriage, my husband and I began realizing how little time we were setting aside for us to actually spend time together. Date nights required babysitters which we didn’t always have, and they are expensive. So, we decided we were going to have a date night every Friday night and mostly do them at home. We rotate on who oversees date night and although there have been date nights where we’ve gone all out, I also think keeping it low key is more manageable long term.
- Themed Candlelit Dinner. What’s your spouse’s favorite cuisine? Is there a country they have always wanted to visit but haven’t yet? Themed dinners are always fun and honestly, make it easier to pinpoint what to cook (or order 😉). Simple themes and even ordering out to your favorite restaurant make this pretty low key, but you can get as creative as you want with this. We have done different degrees of this throughout our marriage, and it is always memorable. Light several candles and turn the lights down and it’s an instant romantic atmosphere (that also conveniently hides a dirty house and any evidence of kids, ha!).
- Game Night. My husband and I both grew up playing games and it was a point of connection when we were dating. We still play a lot of games with our kids and families, but a lot of our favorite games are limited to more than three players. For one game night my husband researched how to play one of our favorite board games for just two players. It changed the game slightly, but it was a lot of fun. I love this screen-free date night option!
- Painting Your Relationship. One night my husband surprised me by doing a painting night! This is really fun and dives into both of your creative sides. His instruction was to paint a scene that reflects our relationship. And then it became a bit of a competition. Tapping into a creative side is something we don’t do a lot as a couple, so it felt new and really fun!
- Target Date Night Scavenger Hunt. I’ve seen this trending on social media and really wanted to give it a go. My husband is not a shopper, but he is competitive, and this challenge really appealed to that side of him! If you search ‘Target Date Night Scavenger Hunt’ it will no doubt pop up with a lot of options. But basically, you are given different things to buy for your spouse. The options include things like their favorite snack, something that reminds you of them, something they need, something that’s their favorite color, etc. You are both given the same amount of time and budget and then after the challenge you go over your purchases and thought process with your spouse. It’s a great way to learn new things about them! When I initially saw the list, I thought we could never afford to do all of it, so together we came up with a few objectives and set a budget of $15 each. You can do this at any store and even come up with completely new objectives.
- Raffle. All the credit for this idea goes to my husband who came up with it. You sit down and write ideas on a scrap of paper. You can write anything — date night ideas, something you want to do by yourself, something new you want to do as a couple. Fold them all up and draw one piece every week. Then you have to find time to fit it in within that week. This is great because it also meets some needs of the individual. One of ours was go to a coffee shop by yourself for a couple hours. Sometimes we need to prioritize ourselves to be in a good place in our relationships.
- Chopped. This is the episode you do in your own kitchen with your spouse as your opponent. You have to use only ingredients you have in your kitchen. Obviously, you’re going to need some outside judges for this one. Especially if you’re both inclined to be competitive. We used our kids and our best friends to judge our dishes!
We’ve been doing Friday night date nights for several years now and I’m a huge advocate! It is easy for life to get in the way but keeping the connection going with your spouse is so important. I hope these ideas inspire you and your spouse to set aside some time and create your own memorable date nights!