date-night DANCE1-INK   Growing up I used to always look at our Stake directory. I love maps and they had one of every ward! In the calendar section, I remember seeing an icon of a man and woman dancing on every Friday night. Above it in bold all caps were the words DATE NIGHT!    Flash forward 18 years, now married with children, and our relationship wasn’t as strong as it could have been. We wanted to add strength to our relationship. Part of our plan was to go out with a “power couple” in the ward. You know, the ones that are always chosen as the witness couple at ward temple night? We wanted to pick their brains and find out what they were doing to be successful.
We had a great time together and we got a lot of great advice. One of the things that they told us was to have a consistent date night. With kids, jobs, callings, etc. this can be an easy thing to fall by the wayside, but it is essential. Fathers and Mothers need to take time out to be Husbands and Wives. In 1995, Elder Joe J. Christensen talked about eight things we can do to add value to our marriages.  In number 5 he said, “Keep your courtship alive. Make time to do things together—just the two of you. As important as it is to be with the children as a family, you need regular weekly time alone together. Scheduling it will let your children know that you feel that your marriage is so important that you need to nurture it. That takes commitment, planning, and scheduling”

   I can attest that this, among other things, have changed our marriage! It isn’t easy, and we haven’t always been perfect, but we are making it a priority. I have often heard the feedback we can’t afford to go out, or we can’t pay a babysitter. I know this feeling and it is a part of what contributed to out loss of date night habit.  Like all things worthwhile, date night takes sacrifice and creativity.  I’d like to offer some solutions that we have done to create our Date Night 2.0.

  • Temple AnniversaryGo to the Temple: I heard someone say once, “going to the Temple is not a date.”  To which I replied, “Then you’re doing it wrong.” Grabbing some In-N-Out and then heading to an endowment session might qualify as “dinner and a movie.” Forus though, we enjoy doing a sealing session. A few years ago we even made doing sealings a marriage anniversary tradition. What better way to celebrate our love than to “renew our vows.”  There are even some youth that will babysit for free if you are going to the Temple. If they do, maybe pay a little bit if you grab dessert after or bring them some home.  Most importantly, if you find yourself able to afford a babysitter in the future, these little sisters should be your first call!
  • Babysitting Swaps: In our last home we had friends a few doors down who also had young kids.  We would sometimes do swaps where we would watch all the kids on Friday Night, and they would watch all the kids on Saturday night.  The kids loved it because it was like having back to back sleepovers, and we loved it because we saved money.
  • Sushi at HomeStay at Home: The other night we put the kiddies to bed a little early and made dinner together. If you aren’t a magician in the kitchen, Home Chef has a program where they deliver everything you need to make a romantic meal right to your door! They have fresh ingredients, menu variety, and professionally printed recipes that you can add to your cookbook. Plus right now they are offering $30 off your first order with the promo code: 3PLATESOFF.
    After that, we popped some corn and snuggled up together on the couch to watch a romantic movie. Afterward, we talked about the couples in the movie and pointed out strengths they had.
  • Go on a Free Date: We often have enough in the budget for a babysitter or enough for a date, but not both.  That’s when creativity comes in!  One time we got dinner at the ward activity and then went to our local Marriott with a lobby/bistro/business center where they have WiFi and big comfy couches.  We sat together, shared an earbud, and watched the series finale of The Office on Hulu with our iPhone.

1653698_10151845731311805_767528507_n   You can find a ton of other great ideas out there.  Our post on getting into the movies for free is a good start, but also has an article as well as articles I found on LDS Living and LDS Weddings.  Even if you aren’t on a budget, these sites have some real fun ideas to keep your courtship fresh and you should check them out.
Typically in February Olive Garden celebrates Parents Night Out by paying for your babysitting! Drop your kids off at any participating MyGym location where they will eat pizza and play. You head over to Olive Garden where they have a special meal for two. Unlimited Breadsticks? Yes Please! Maybe you can catch a movie or just go for a walk.  (Details vary by location, be sure to call beforehand and make reservations and ask how they will operate that night.)
Date Night is a wonderful tradition to create a healthy marriage and family.  Men, if you missed last week, repent and figure out how you can incorporate these ideas for next week. Ladies, if you want your husband to take you out this week find a sitter and ask him to some one of these activities with you.  You will be glad you did.