Guest post from Alison of Experimental Wifery
My husband and I dated for six years before we got married. We thought we had this relationship thing figured out. But, after only nine months of marriage, things had started to get a little rocky.
My gentle, understanding husband had suddenly become grouchy and irritable. Instead of helping him, all I could think to do was nag him to tell me what was wrong. Because we were saving up for a down payment on a house, we didn’t go out together often.
We worked. We ate. We went to bed.
No wonder our marriage was running into trouble. We barely ever talked to each other!
So we went on a date. He told me how much he hated his job (that’s what was making him grumpy) and we problem solved about how to fix it. For the price of a $20 dinner, we solved a problem months of evening meals together hadn’t.
Nine months into our marriage, I learned that great conversations — the kind that make or break a happy marriage — don’t just happen. I believe that healthy marriages need regular date nights — weekly, if at all possible.
A date night is a night that you and your husband set aside to spend time alone together. It’s a time to refresh as a couple. It’s a time to reevaluate what’s working for your family. It’s a time to discuss big ideas together.
But I don’t believe that it is a luxury. I believe that setting aside money every month for a date night is one of the most important things you can do for your marriage.
Still, $20 (or whatever you can budget) doesn’t go far — especially when you throw in the added expense of babysitting. So here are some great ideas to make your date night money stretch a little further:
1. Shorten your dates.
When you have kids and are paying for a babysitter, the longer you’re out, the more expensive the date — no matter what else you’re doing. Try going out for dinner only. Or have dinner at home before you catch a movie.
2. Split the babysitter costs.
Sitters normally charge only $2-3 more for extra kids, so split a sitter with friends. Or check out these great sitter savings ideas.
3. Bring your own dinner.
Look for local restaurants with moderately priced menus. Many restaurants have early-bird or two-for-one specials.
In warmer weather, break out the picnic basket! Visit a local playground or nearby national park for some sandwiches and dessert.
4. Buy discount tickets.
Check out organizations that sell cheap events tickets. Think about events that always have inexpensive tickets — nosebleed seats at a baseball game are a great venue for a little couple’s time.
5. Avoid dinner and a movie out.
My husband and I have found that dinner + a movie + a sitter is just too expensive. Instead, choose a special film (in advance!) and order out. Put the kids to bed and enjoy an evening in.
Money doesn’t buy happiness, but I believe a weekly date night is an important investment in your marriage.
What are your creative ideas and suggestions for having a date night without breaking the bank?
Alison blogs about learning to be a better woman and wife at Experimental Wifery. She’s a wife, mommy, and high school English teacher. She lives near Washington, DC, where walking around the monuments at night is a cheap, date-night favorite.