Brandon and I firmly believe that a good marriage is stronger than romantic feelings. In fact, we think the best relationships are more about deep friendship and less about ooey-gooey emotions. Dating your partner is important even after you get married. When the emotions are less heightened, your marriage is strengthened by that bond of friendship. But we also know that money can be tight those first few years (or more) and that dating doesn’t have to cost you money. We’ve compiled a few of our favorite date ideas for those times when the budget just doesn’t allow for a fancy dinner and theater tickets or a weekend getaway.
1. Berry picking
Here in middle-Tennessee we have several good options for pick-your-own berries. In May we typically go pick strawberries and in June we often go for blueberries or blackberries. This is something I dragged Brandon to the first year we were married and now it is an annual tradition that we love. Now, you can spend as much or as little as you want depending on how much you pick, but the point is having fun and doing something new together. You can then go home and have a muffin-baking day with your haul.
P.S. The photos in this blog post are all cell phone snaps. (If I only knew a good photographer to take photos of these things for me??)
2. S’mores and a fire
This one needs no explanation. There is just something about sitting around a campfire with a blanket wrapped around you. You can invite friends or just keep it special for the two of you, but as that warm flicker of the fire lights up your face, something magical happens and you can just sit and talk for hours together. Plus, s’mores. Enough said.
3. Homemade pasta and Italian music
Cooking together can be a fun date night. Pasta is relatively cheap and it’s also fairly easy, so even those of us who aren’t chefs can have a hard time ruining it. But the best part of a pasta night is the music. Brandon and I will play a popular Italian station on Pandora and dance along to the accordion rhythm – sometimes even making up words as we go. It’s good to be silly sometimes, and if you like wine you could always add that in to your theme for the evening. (Bonus points: speak in your best Italian accents as you cook for a more authentic, and ridiculous, touch.)
It doesn’t cost you anything to volunteer your time, and getting involved in the community to help someone less fortunate is a great relationship builder. Not only that, it will open your eyes to things you might not have thought of before, and it’ll give you a tremendous sense of pride. Get involved in a local charity that you are interested in and give a little time and a little love to people who could use a hand.
5. At-home spa
Even guys like to be pampered, even if they act like they don’t. If your fella is up for a facial, massage or manicure (with no polish of course), this can be a really fun date night in. You can buy a facial mask or make one with brown sugar and honey, or maybe coconut oil. (Hello Pinterest.) Use some lotion for a hand and arm massage and a quick nail file for some tidy nails. Or if you’re brave, go for the feet. And if he’s up for it, have your fella paint your nails. Brandon painted my nails once in college and he was surprisingly great at it!
On a clear warm night, grab an air mattress or some pillows and blankets and take a drive to a spot where you can see the bright stars. You can take a map of the constellations and see what you can find, and who knows – you might even see a shooting star. If you have a truck you can lay your pillows down and lay in the bed of it, and even play some light music. Or borrow a telescope if you’re into that. It can be fun exploring the night sky and chatting alone with your favorite person.
7. Explore your area
On a nice day, going for a hike can be just the therapy you need. Enjoying nature together can be a new favorite relaxing or adventurous date day. Bring a picnic for lunch and don’t forget the bug spray. You can explore a new trail, find a waterfall, or just go to the park and plop down a blanket, but get out there and enjoy a pretty day with your love. Or if outdoors really isn’t your thing, you can go for a drive. Windows down, music up and exploring backroads you’ve never been down can be a fun mini-adventure too.
8. Drive-in movie
There’s something about a drive-in movie that takes you back in time. Not only is it cheaper, it’s fun to eat junk food in your car and enjoy the summer night cricket-chirping air while you enjoy a couple of movies with your boo. Grab a pizza or some fast food and hit up your local drive-in for a different movie experience.
The point of dating isn’t always about romance, it’s about BEING together. So it doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. Heck, stay in your jammies for all we care! Just make sure to make time for your spouse. Check IN with your partner and check OUT of social media for a bit. This is how you grow together, not apart. The time you spend having fun together is so healthy for your relationship so plan a day to say no to everything else and yes to a date.
Thanks for reading! If you end up taking one of the adventures we listed above, leave a comment below and tell me about it, we’d love hearing your take on these ideas!