One of the things D and I have sacrificed this year during our Spending Fast is our date night budget. But just because we won’t be going out to restaurants or to the movies doesn’t mean that we are resigned to a year without date nights. Oh no, that would never do!
Date nights are extremely important to us. They give us some sacrosanct time in our busy lives where we can enjoy uninterrupted time together, and time to shine a spotlight on our relationship. We haven’t always been diligent about having them once a week (oddly enough, they tend to get derailed for a while after a baby shows up…) but we’ve always taken turns to organise the date. It’s actually loads of fun trying to think of things to do that the other one would like, and the best spin-off was we’ve often surprised each other with our creativity.
There are heaps of ‘date night idea’ posts out there with some really cool things you could do together. However, at this time in my life I tend to read ideas like ‘Go away for the weekend’ or ‘Take a cooking class together’ and think to myself ‘these things either cost money (hello, Spending Fast) or are for people without tiny tots at home’. And while there are plenty of free or frugal dates we could have outside the home thanks to our willing babysitters, we aim to have loads of fun on our date nights without even leaving the house.
- Make a list of your top 3 (or 5 or 10…) favourite songs and play them to your spouse. Try to articulate why that song means so much to you. Is it the lyrics? Is it the memories of a good/bad time in your life? D and I did this a couple of years ago and this still remains hands down my best-ever date night. We learnt a lot about each other, got introduced to some wonderful new music and it didn’t cost us a bean.
- In a similar vein, watch each other’s favourite childhood movie. You might get an insight into your spouse once you’ve seen Tron or Clueless.
- Have a themed night. Choose a country/genre/tv show or whatever takes your fancy and work that theme into your night e.g. French – cook some delicious French recipes, serve your spouse using a ridiculous French accent and watch a wonderful French flick like the hysterically funny ‘Bienvenue chez le Ch’tis‘ (Welcome to the Sticks). Ooh la la!
- Have a picnic on your living room floor. Because food just tastes better when you are sitting on the floor. Or something like that.
- Play board games. I struggle with this one a little myself because on the one hand, I love board games. But on the other hand, D is WAY better at games than me (he’s very logical, I am not) so I usually suck at the games he likes (although I can still beat anyone at Cluedo…). It can be a bit demoralising to lose at Citadels 50 times in a row, although my one victory is a sweet, sweet memory. Some games are no good with two people, but we love Citadels and Pandemic.
- Watch a TV series together. This is our go-to date night for times when we are knackered. Which is a lot. We’ve been through Prison Break, Midsomer Murders, 24, Downton Abbey, Homeland and are in the middle of Foyle’s War. (In case you can’t tell I LOVE murder mysteries, WWII-related stuff, and plenty of action.)
- Make a special dish together. If you’ve got little ones at home, let’s face it, it’ll probably be dessert as you’ll be starving if you have to wait for your dinner until the tots are in bed. You don’t have to spend heaps of money to create something yummy. My husband makes plain old self-saucing pudding every now and then (we use a sugar-free alternative) and I like it so much I even made up a special pudding song. True story. Anyway, get cooking together and reap the reward.
- Go through a book together and discuss. Get a book out of the library for free (or peanuts). It doesn’t really matter what sort of book, but I would recommend choosing a topic that appeals to you both (D might salivate over ‘Adventures of an IT Nerd’, but I will be snoozing in 5 seconds). Books with a bit of philosophy in them are great like ‘How to Be Free‘ or something on a controversial topic like ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin‘.
- Even better, go through a book about marriage/relationships together. Relationship are hard work, even for the most compatible couples. Invest in yours, and dig deep into your trouble spots together. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but as a couple you MUST GET USED TO TALKING ABOUT THE HARD STUFF TOGETHER. I highly recommend Harville Hendrix’s ‘Getting the Love You Want‘ and Timothy Keller’s ‘The Meaning of Marriage‘.
- Write love letters to each other. Okay, so this one is dripping with cheese, but go with it. Cast your mind back to when you first met and started dating. What attracted you to your partner? What do you still love about them? What are you grateful for about them? Write it down and then read them out loud to each other.
- Play the ‘What If…’ game. This one is fun, fun, fun and will give you a lot of insight into that guy/gal of yours. Try and think of some really curly dilemmas (there are lots of great resources online like this), you know, stuff like ‘If you had to press a button which meant one person would die, but hundreds of lives would be saved, would you do it’?
- Record each other telling your life stories. This is gold. Like heirloom gold. Ask questions like, ‘What are some family traditions you remember’? ‘What was school like for you‘? ‘Walk me around your house, describe what it looked like‘?
- If one or both of you are musical have a jam session/singalong. My husband likes to make up terrible songs about me that don’t rhyme. I love it.
- Dig out your old pre-partner photos of your life and go through them together. Ask questions.
- And last but not least, D says: assemble flat-pack furniture together. Not only do two pairs of hands get things done faster, NOTHING strengthens a relationship more like trying to figure out why the heck your bookcase is wonky and you’ve got three screws leftover. IKEA: the place that screams are made of…