Let me ask you something.
When it comes to your romantic life…
When was the last time you and your spouse went out on a date together?
Unless you’re intentional about your relationship, it’s very easy to slide into boring routines and start feeling disconnected.
In fact, a University of Virginia study found that couples who go out together frequently have lower divorce rates and higher levels of happiness and commitment. If you’re ready to strengthen your relationship the fun way, find out how to use date nights to enhance your communications and tell your spouse how much you love them.
This article will give you lots of romantic date night ideas to get your romance juices flowing.
What Defines a Romantic Date?
Romance is not an objective measure but rather a subjective measurement of what happens between two people. What one person may think of as romantic, the other partner might think of as boring.
If you look at dictionary definitions of romance you’ll find that the descriptions and definitions often hold derivatives of the word “romance.” It is impossible to define a word using the word in the definition.
While it might be difficult for you to figure out what your partner’s idea of romance includes, remember that the academic minds who define our words also have a difficult time identifying exactly what romance IS.
Dictionaries define romance as: “a novel or other prose narrative depicting heroic or marvelous deeds, pageantry, romantic exploits, etc., usually in a historical or imaginary setting,” or “a baseless, made-up story, usually full of exaggeration or fanciful invention,” or “romantic character or quality.”
In each case the word or some derivative of it is included. But romance isn’t something that is fanciful, made up, baseless or exaggerated. It is heroic, and based on quality and character of the people involved.
Romance is the act of doing something special for your partner that was not requested but involves effort and sometimes sacrifice on your part.
In our modern society ruled by digital communication, movies, television shows and music videos, we’ve come to believe that romance happens with a foggy backdrop, lots of flowers, and looking deep into each others eyes.
Instead, romance is more about creating a situation in which you are giving more to your partner than you are receiving from them. You might hate the opera, but if your partner loves it then it is very romantic to take them to the opera.
It is self-sacrificing and giving rather than taking.
Romance should never feel forced, as if you have something “romantic” planned but it’s out of your comfort zone. You may not be a wordsmith and enjoy spouting poetry, so don’t try it now when you want to be romantic.
Romance is a handwritten note…
… it’s walking hand-in-hand
… or making someone a sandwich when you weren’t asked.
Of course, your partner may have other ideas about what constitutes romance.
So while you may feel that hand holding and note writing is romantic, your partner may think that having dinner cooked or watching television together is romantic.
Check in with each other and be sure that you both are on the same page about what is and isn’t romantic so your needs and desires are met.
Make Date Night a Habit
1. Plan ahead. Regard quality time with your spouse as a top priority. Find something else you can drop in your schedule if you need to free up a few hours a week for each other. Making arrangements in advance will give you something to look forward to and help you stay on track.
2. Pair off. Parenting can complicate date nights, but there are solutions. See if you can exchange babysitting services with another couple on a tight budget. If necessary, stay home, and meet up after the kids have gone to bed.
3. Reduce expenses. Speaking of limited finances, your outings can be affordable or free. Order coffee and dessert instead of a full meal. Take a hike or browse around antique shops.
4. Manage stress. Date nights are especially important when minor irritations are dampening your sense of romance. Dancing and laughing can reignite your passion.
5. Shift your thinking. Leaving the house doesn’t count if you’re still talking about your broken dishwasher and which one of you is going to drive your daughter to soccer practice. Concentrate on the love and friendship between you.
6. Share responsibility. You’re in this together. Take turns planning your dates. An occasional surprise will add to the fun.
7. Remember small gestures. Stay in the mood by treating each other with affection and respect throughout the week. Express your gratitude, share chores, and dress up a little.
Inexpensive Date Night Ideas
Romance is important to developing a relationship. But, romance means different things to different people. For some, a romantic date is spent over candlelight in an expensive restaurant with a dozen red roses. For others, a romantic date is spent rock climbing or sharing thrills while jumping out of a plane.
In other words, romance has different meaning to each couple. In fact, what might have been romantic with one partner will be different with another because the chemistry between you is different.
But, while romance is important to your relationship, so is your ability to live within a budget.
Sometimes it’s important to have both – romance and to do it frugally.
Romance is not about how much money you spend but is, in fact, about your relationship and how you spend the time together.
Here are ten really great cheap and fun date ideas that won’t break the bank.
1. In the summer you and your partner can pack a great late night snack, bottle of wine and dessert and sit out under the stars. This is best done away from the city so you can actually see the stars. Bring a celestial map and work together to find some of the constellations. Bring wide based candles and put them out around your blanket. Candles and starlight – can’t get better than this!
2. Go to a local lake and rent a canoe. Make it on a shady day because it can get very hot out on the water. Bring a cooler with water – no alcohol and water sports! Pack a lunch. Stop along the shoreline and give each other shoulder rubs to relax your muscles after rowing. It’s amazing what you learn about a person rowing a boat.
3. Take a hike at a local park. Most have trails that are ranked at different difficulty levels. Hold hands, bring drinks and take breaks when you want and enjoy the scenery. Take your phone or camera and get some candid shots you can reminisce with later.
4. Go dancing. Not club dancing, but the hold-me-in-your-arms kind of ballroom dancing. If you don’t know how to dance, take a class together. You’ll be able to find cost effective classes at your local recreation center or YMCA.
5. Host a fondue night. Fondue is fun! Get one or two other couples together and make some memories. Romance is not always about being alone together.
6. Massage night. Schedule a massage night. Use scented oils or lotions and have some fun. This doesn’t have to end with sex, sometimes it’s just about making sure that your partner feels good and relaxed at the end of the evening.
7. Drive in movies are not just for small towns. Look for a drive in theater where you can roll down the windows, snuggle together with popcorn and watch a movie. If your car has bucket seats, spread a blanket outside the car and be sure to bring the mosquito repellent.
8. Be a tourist. No matter where you live there are things that tourists would be interested in seeing. Whether it’s a national landmark, shopping downtown or a particularly large cornfield – just be a tourist in your own home town.
9. Take a cooking class together. Cooking is sexy and eating a great meal that you make together is even sexier. Cooking classes don’t have to be expensive. If they are in your area, rent a video that teaches you to cook a specific meal and do it together.
10 Turn off the power. When the power goes out you pull out the candles and sit to talk. You can play games, talk over candlelight or give each other back rubs in the dark. Put away your cell phones, computers and anything else that uses power. You want the power IN your relationship, not around it!
Common Romantic Date Ideas
Dating is a fun experience that you should have whether you are just getting to know someone or you have been married for years. It’s a platform from which you get to know your partner better and create memories you can reminisce over for years to come.
What is a common dating experience for you may not be a common dating experience for another couple. However, while the term common may have some poor connotations in your mind, things that are common to your relationship and your marriage can also be comforting.
For instance, if it’s your habit to go out to dinner on Friday after work, or lunch after church on Sunday, the habit can be comforting. But, the experience doesn’t always have to be common.
Dinner out on Friday means that you don’t have to cook or clean up after dinner – but it doesn’t always have to be pizza, Chinese or southwestern food. You and your partner can find a new restaurant to try once a month to increase your exposure to what’s available in your city. You might even find a new restaurant that becomes your new favorite!
Other activities that don’t seem like they would be good date ideas include cleaning the house on Saturday morning. It’s an activity that has to be done and usually no one wants to do it.
But, when you make a game out of the activities that have to be done and reward yourselves when it’s over with an activity you both enjoy immensely (we’ll leave that to YOUR imagination!) then cleaning doesn’t become the drudgery it once was.
Suddenly you have a whole new perspective about Saturday mornings.
Take a good strong look at the other things you commonly do in your relationship or your life and figure out how you can make it more fun and exciting – and even romantic.
Shopping at the local grocery store in the summer can get boring, but a weekly trip to a local farmer’s market will yield fresh, locally grown vegetables to spice up your meals. Go to the farmer’s market together and then cook a meal you’ve never eaten together.
Common activity with a romantic twist.
One of the nicest things about dating someone – your new partner or your spouse – is that there are always new things you can do together that don’t require extra money or time. Use the common things you do each and every day and make THEM into a romantic date you’ll remember for years to come.
Exciting Romantic Dates
How do you define exciting?
Before you start planning bungee jumping off the local bridge or rock climbing with your partner – you might want to be sure that their idea of an exciting date isn’t trying a new Thai restaurant or experiencing a new movie genre.
Excitement means different things to different people – and not always does it mean that your heart will be racing and your adrenalin pumping.
Some of the following ideas for an exciting romantic date might seem just the ticket to you – but check it out with your partner before buying tickets, scheduling classes or taking the day off of work.
1. Excitement can come in the form of playing hooky from work. Have you both been having trouble finding time to spend together? Has it been awhile since you spent the day with just each other? It might be time to tap into some of those sick days you’ve both accumulated and take a day off.
Use the time to do things that you won’t be CAUGHT doing. Most employers know that people call in sick even when they aren’t sick – but you don’t want to be caught out and about when you were supposed to be home sick. Leave the city and don’t get caught on the news if something is going on in the area.
2. If you’ve checked with your partner then you may want to try bungee jumping or climbing. Psychologists tell us that experiencing something exciting or scary together can bond a couple closer together. Downhill skiing, water skiing and haunted houses all qualify for exciting dates.
3. Go canoeing in the spring when the water is high and running fast. Or go kayaking together. You’ll have a fun and exciting time together and get a good ab workout. Go through a local conservatory and take the trail that is rated the most difficult. It will challenge both your body and your mind.
4. Rent a local cabin or take a tent and pitch it in a local campground. Bring a bottle of wine and enjoy each other’s company under the stars.
5. Join a local contest in your area. A medallion hunt, cooking challenge or scavenger hunt. Make a pact to see the contest through to the end. You never know what you’ll learn about your partner.
Romantic Day Trips
Staying connected with your partner is an important piece of staying together over the years. Although we all think of romance in a different light, the basic truth and foundation is that our romantic feelings for each other are grounded in the time we spend together.
Relationships are built on trust, but romance is grounded in time spent.
When the day to day grind of work, family, friends, taking care of your home and traveling to see each other if you don’t live together, finally builds a divide between you, it’s time to take a romantic day trip to rekindle the romance and the love between you.
Couples who are focused on keeping the candle burning take the time to get away together at least twice a year without family, friends or children.
But sometimes, you’d like to have a quick getaway that doesn’t involve too much planning and expense. This is where a day trip can fill the bill and leave you both rejuvenated and back in love all over again.
Here are a few day trip ideas that will get your creative juices flowing.
1. Visit a local park. Take your lunch, hiking shoes and camera. Spend the day watching nature, eating under a tree and making out near a stream. Come home with pictures of the foliage and memories about the places you visited that day.
2. Take a trip through your city – or a neighboring city – like you’re a tourist. See all the sites that people visit your city to see but which you probably never visited.
3. Decide to drive for no more than 2 hours and spend the day in another town or city. Explore the area and talk with the residents. Two hours isn’t so far to drive but it’s far enough that you aren’t in your own backyard.
4. Take a class during the day and practice in the evening. You can take a cooking class, tennis class, pottery class or any other number of classes.
5. Go geocaching for the day. Much like a scavenger hunt using geolocating it can be fun, exciting and bring you out of reality and into fantasy land.
6. Take a drive out to a winery and do some wine tasting. Not so much that you shouldn’t drive home, but just enough to taste the wine, drink in the scenery and spend some quality time with your partner.
7. Spend time picking berries and then go home and can them or make jellies and jams. Package them up in pretty jars to give away to friends and relatives.
It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you both enjoy it, you have fun together and you pay more attention to each other than you do to yourself.
Romantic Weekends Date Ideas
Romance is about spending time together or doing special things for each other. One of the most fun ways to put a little romance back in your relationship is to get away together for a couple of days.
Away from the stresses of work, family, home, friends and commitments you can concentrate on just each other and find that connection that sometimes gets lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday living.
There are some incredible weekend getaway options that are romantic, expensive and all-inclusive. However, when they require a 5 hour plane ride, your weekend is suddenly shorter and much less romantic.
Hours in an airport, eating airport food can dampen anyone’s excitement and anticipation about spending 2 uninterrupted days together.
If you have 5 days for a weekend getaway, then Cancun, the Poconos, Cayman Islands or Bahamas might just be what the two of you are looking for. However, if you don’t live 2 hours from the beach or a romantic nature retreat, what are your options?
The first thing you should do is pull out a map, or bring up MapQuest on your computer. Decide how far you want to drive for this trip and then determine the outside limit of your travel plans. Using this as your starting point look for points of interest that might lie within that geographical circle.
Are there state parks, national points of interest, or campgrounds with rustic cabins in your circle. Getting away without electricity will help you to connect without relying on digital entertainment.
If the rough and ready type of weekend isn’t your style, think about your city or a neighboring city as if you are a tourist. Look for a hotel near the tourist attraction you want to visit and book a weekend. You don’t have to travel outside your city to enjoy a romantic weekend getaway.
You might want to consider a weekend at a 5 star hotel in your local area and get away without any plans of interacting with anyone but room service. Sometimes it’s bonding and great for the relationship to put children, family and friends aside and just concentrate on each other.
Movies in bed, room service with lots of sleep and alone time; at the end of the weekend you should both be rejuvenated!
Romantic weekend getaways can happen in your own backyard, camping in a tent…
…They can happen in a 5 star hotel or a rustic cabin.
The question isn’t where they happen but that you and your partner follow through and DO THEM.
Staying connected with each other is important to the long-term health and wellness of your relationship.
Unusual Romantic Dates
Romance is important and doesn’t have to be boring.
In other words, there is more than dinner and a movie, candlelight and flowers.
The truly unusual can also be romantic.
Sometimes it can be expensive and sometimes it can be pretty inexpensive. The idea is to find scenarios which will satisfy both of you and help you both create memories that last a lifetime.
1) Visit a brewery or go for a wine tasting. This is a great way to have some fun, great conversation between you and others as well as enjoying more than one type of drink without overindulging. If you don’t live in wine country there is likely a winery in your local area that holds wine tastings.
Some wine clubs open their tastings up to the public and some restaurants with a wide wine selection will host a wine tasting.
2) Dates don’t have to happen in the evenings. You can visit a farmer’s market, flea market, museum or early matinee in the afternoon. It’s fun and puts a different twist on how you see your partner.
3) Take a class together – it can be cooking, dancing or macrame. It doesn’t matter what the class is – as long as you are taking it together. Look at your local YMCA for a list of classes that will help satisfy both your needs.
4) Volunteer together at a soup kitchen, Habitat for Humanity or your own local charity. You learn quite a bit about someone when they are busy taking care of others. Watch how they care for others, what they say and talk about the experience later. It’s an unusual date that will tell you more about your partner than dinner and movie.
5) Each of you organize half the evening. You might cook dinner and your partner chooses a game, a movie or a visit to a local gallery. Each of you keeps your part of the evening a secret until it’s your turn, UNLESS it’s necessary to share so your plans aren’t ruined by timing.
6) Do something that neither of you have done before. It might be a pottery class, a dancing class, climbing or fishing. Rent a moped and go touring around the country. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you are sharing the experience together.
7) Walk around a neighborhood you used to live in or where you grew up. Tell your date about the memories you have and share a bit of your history.
8) Pull out your smartphone or a camera and start taking pictures of your surroundings. Maybe it’s an abandoned building, a local park or a tourist area. Take them home and play around on the computer to make a montage of your afternoon together.
Dates are times that you spend together, enjoying each other’s company. They are more than dinner and movie and they provide a great platform from which to bond, create memories and learn more about each other.
Marriage takes work, but date nights can make your labors seem like play. Recapture the excitement you felt when you first met while nurturing the deeper intimacy you’ve been developing during your years together. Regular dates will help you and your spouse to draw closer and stay in love.