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We may all remember the early days when we had just started dating our husbands and wives: romantic meals, long evenings out, no worry about childcare or being home at a certain time. Unfortunately, your responsibilities have probably increased tenfold since those early days, and date night is pushed aside in favor of your long to-do list.

Whether you’ve been married five months, five years, or fifty years, spending time alone with your spouse is vital to keeping your marriage strong in the midst of your hectic lives. Here are some ideas for inexpensive dates you can try:

1. Take a weekly class together. Think of something that both of you are interested in, and sign up to take a class together on a weekly basis. You could splurge on official ‘lessons’ or find free classes at your local community college or community center. Here are some ideas:

• Photography. Learn how to take excellent photos—then go on photography dates to practice your new skills!
• Dance. What could be better than getting rid of your two left feet—together? Swallow your pride and laugh together as you learn to show off some new dance moves.
• Cooking. Okay, okay…this might take some convincing for your husband, but making him feel more comfortable in the kitchen can be nothing but a good thing.

The other perk about taking classes together is that you have a date on the calendar each and every week.

2. Take a long drive. There is almost nothing sweeter than a beautiful drive around a scenic, peaceful locale near your home. If it’s warm you can roll the windows down, listen to some music, and catch up with each other. This date idea is ideal if you have a brand new little one who isn’t ready to be left alone just yet; just put her in the car seat and hopefully she’ll just sleep right through your date night.

3. Have a romantic dance party—at home. One of my husband and I’s favorite home dates is to put together a mix of some of our favorite songs and have fun dancing in our living room. You can light candles and even dress up a little bit to make the evening special, and sometimes we’ll take breaks to eat dessert or just laugh together. This date is great if you don’t want to go to the trouble of finding a babysitter; just put the kids to bed and enjoy a romantic evening.

4. Take a walk or hike. Enjoying the beauty of the outdoors is certainly one of the cheapest and most peaceful dates there is. So hold hands and take a walk together for a simple, relaxing date idea. Here are some specific options:

• Enjoy a beautiful sunset. If you can break away in the early evening, find a beautiful overlook and watch the sun set together.
• Stargaze. Even if you don’t know much about astronomy, it’s always fun (and romantic) to enjoy at the night sky.
• Visit places that were special to you while dating. Maybe your husband proposed on a special walk, or you often used to walk a certain route together. Retrace these steps and reflect on those wonderful memories.

5. Become tourists in your own city. No matter how long you have lived in your current city, chances are that you haven’t seen all there is to see. So instead of planning a pricy weekend trip to a new place, do some research about the hidden treasures within your own town. You’ll probably even be able to find some free attractions that would make for a fun afternoon out for you and your husband.

6. Visit a free event in your community. With a little searching in your local newspaper, you can often find free events for you and your husband to enjoy. Concerts, plays, musicals, and art galleries are all options that are often free of charge and would make for inexpensive, enjoyable dates. Check with your local community college as well, as they often host a variety of free events.

If you’re concerned about the money it will cost to hire a babysitter for an evening out, consider swapping date night childcare with some friends. You can agree to watch their kids for free while they go out one evening, and they can reciprocate by watching your children during your date night. It’s a simple way to deal with the financial concerns, and it’s convenient that you won’t have to search high and low for a responsible babysitter.

What do you and your husband do for date nights? If you have some great ideas to add, share them with us here!

Crystal’s Comments:  Mr. BFS and I have been known to karaoke to our favorites or dance in our living room.  I like it when we just kid around and laugh for hours…some of our best date nights have been with a Redbox or Netflix movie and a light bag of popcorn.