So, no one told you marriage was work? That dating didn't end when the church bells rang? Let's say the typical date, dinner and a movie costs $25 for dinner and $15 for the movie. That's $40 a week, or $2,080 a year. A couple of years and children later, add another $20 on for a baby sitter and you have a $60 date night. That's over $3,000 a year.

Save the movie tickets for the big blockbusters and try some of these ideas out. Dating the love of your life can be memorable and cheap.

Couples night

One night a month, or more, invite a few other couples over for games. Have each couple bring a treat and some drinks. You may even be able to gather all your children at one of the other couples' houses with babysitters. This allows the moms and dads to have adult conversation as well as fun.

Couples night progressive dinner

Each couple puts $20 in the pot. You walk to town or the mall and have your appetizer at the first stop, your entree at the next stop, a snack at another and finish at the ice cream or cookie store. The only rules are that everyone has to eat, and you can't spend more money than is in the pot. It's a game and a blast! We tried this and laughed ourselves silly. I watched a doctor eat deep fried bacon and we had a $2 tip for the waiter at our last stop.

Couples swap

This involves other couples as well, so if you don't know any, find some. Trade one night a month, or more, to babysit another couple's children. Swapping babysitting can greatly cut back on your dating expenses; babysitters aren't cheap.

Service dates

Find somewhere you can volunteer for the night. Watching a tender moment between your significant other and an elderly patron of a nursing home or a child in a homeless shelter can greatly increase your love for them. This is a must-do for every couple.


I know, museums can be dull to some, but hear me out. When you go in together and experience something completely different from what you're used to, it can be great fun. Take turns picking the next one. I enjoyed the classic car showing at a museum we visited.

Connect with nature

Take a hike, take a picnic in the park, take a walk on the beach. They all give you plenty of time to talk. Bring a notebook and write down some fun questions you can ask each other. Use this time to really get to know each other. Shannon's all-time favorite dates included a giant air mattress and summer naps on a local lake.

Just be plain silly

Take sleds out in the winter and find a great hill. Go mini golfing. Find a park and swing. Have a water balloon fight. One of my favorites was riding bikes in the hot summer sun to a surprise location where I threw my husband a squirt gun and the fight was on.

Dine in

Set up candles, a dinner for two, and some romantic music. Sit and dine by the fireplace or in the back yard watching the sunset.

Creative movie nights

My favorite was beach night: We cranked up the heat, I put out the beach blankets and tanning lotion, lit the fireplace for marshmallow roasting, decorated with a blow up palm tree, and we played Beach Blanket Bingo and watched ancient surfer movies.

The secret is in the surprise

Anytime you plan a surprise, it is fun. The anticipation alone creates an atmosphere of fun. Your partner can feel your love through your efforts - it doesn't matter what the surprise is. I remember when we were particularly poor serving dinner on our finest china, complete with menus. They listed presidential fare including Lincoln logs (tootsie rolls), Jimmy Carter Steak (Peanut Butter Sandwiches) and other presidential items. We laughed and we knew we were in love.

My favorite date of all time involved two industrial strength garbage bags, a large grassy hill, and a rain storm. Who knew Seattle sledding, as I deemed it, would be so fun. Now, getting drenched while plummeting down a hill in a trash bag may not be your cup of tea, but for an adventure-seeking couple it was a blast. Find what works for you and go for it. Don't be afraid to try new things!

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