In the past 10 years, my husband and I haven’t been on nearly as many “date nights” as popular culture might say we should have. Between shift work, raising kids, owning a small business, and all of the other life stuff, it seems that finding the time and extra funds to treat ourselves to a romantic evening on the town seems to be less and less in the cards.
And low and behold, we seem to be doing pretty well. That’s because instead of focusing on one evening out a week, we make concerted efforts every day to make a little time for one another.
Here are nine small but meaningful alternatives to date night.
1. Cook Dinner Together
James and I make sure to cook a meal together at least once a week. He is a railroad worker, which means some pretty crazy shift work. Still, whether it is early morning eggs benny after a long graveyard shift or a roast dinner for the family, we prioritize cooking together.
I didn’t know how to cook until James and I were married. My go-to was Ichiban noodles. He’s taught me everything I know about cooking, and I still love to learn from him. There is something special about preparing real food from scratch and sharing the efforts of your hard work.
2. Do A Couples Work Out Video
If you’re anything like James and me, this will be more for comic effect than anything. Working out can be exposing and sometimes embarrassing, especially when doing so with your spouse.
It opens us up to put ourselves in vulnerable situations. Trying a new couple’s yoga position can give us a reason to laugh with one another while giving us the added benefit of physical touch and togetherness.
3. Netflix A Comedy Special
Laughing together with the people you love is the greatest feeling ever. Whenever there is nothing on TV, we send the kids off to sleepovers with their friends, grab a bottle of wine, and turn on John Mulaney’s newest Netflix special — highly recommend.
4. Foot Massages For The Win
Because who doesn’t love a good foot massage on the couch?
5. Garage Darts
Our kids are old enough to spend a bit of time on their own in the house, and my husband and I now take full advantage of that.
We will sneak out to the garage after the kids are in bed or snuggle down with a movie and play a few games of Around the World. We don’t get competitive but do pander to a bit of playful razzing. It allows us to flirt with one another after all of these years, which always feels nice.
6. Learn Something New Together
James and I are always on the hunt to learn a new skill. However, as previously mentioned, sometimes funds can be a bit low, so we can’t always join a class.
Thank God Google is a thing! From learning countless new baking recipes to writing an epic fantasy tale together, we prioritize learning together. These adventures in education help us bond and make memories for years to come.
7. Go For A Hike
Last February, we adopted a German Shepherd pup named Lucy. She is a high energy dog that requires a lot of exercise. Often we bring the kids along on our hikes with Lucy. However, sometimes when James and I feel that we need some one-on-one time, we opt to go just the two of us.
I often find that with scheduled date nights, we will be sitting at a restaurant table looking at one another with nothing to say. It’s like the pressure of being on a date has erased our ability to talk to one another.
When we walk the dog, surrounded by beautiful scenery with no pressure hammering down on us to make it count, our conversation seems to flow so much easier.
8. Skinny Dipping
Okay, so technically illegal and perhaps traditionally thought of as a young couples game, but I can assure you this is a blast as far as couples’ activities go.
9. Drive Somewhere New
James and I aren’t big drivers. We prefer to sit around a backyard fire pit rather than roam the countryside in our vehicle. However, when the weather is bad, or we don’t have much going on, we will pack a picnic lunch and hop in the car.
We will drive for hours, finding the perfect out-of-the-way park that we haven’t yet visited and enjoy a picnic lunch just the two of us.
Of course, a lovely date out on the town is always a welcome occasion for a couple. However, having a set night out once a week isn’t a make-or-break for a relationship. Spontaneous activities around the house or neighborhood can often provide just as much or more quality bonding time as that expensive dinner might have.
It’s not about what you do as a couple, but how you do it together.