Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Aindrea and Rich, hosts of the podcast From Long Distance to Marriage.
It seems nearly impossible to keep your date life fresh and fun at all times, especially if you’ve been together for years. This is why so many couples find themselves in a rut, sitting across from one another in the same booth in the same corner at the same restaurant every Saturday night, ordering the same food and the same wine. We get comfortable, and we eventually let our dating life go on autopilot.
It’s no news that to keep your marriage healthy and evolving, you have to continue dating each other. If you’re struggling to find new ideas to throw into your date night rotation, giving yourselves new challenges for planning dates can be a great place to start. Often, people’s first objection is that they can’t afford to have more dates.
Enter the at-home date.
These are a great way to force you to be creative as a couple, and in the current world climate you’ll definitely benefit from finding a few ways to take part in date nights from the comfort and safety of your own home. When we were first married, we were on a tight budget so we had to get pretty creative when it came to our date nights. Below, we’re sharing some of the great date ideas we found on Pinterest through the years, and a few we came up with along the way.
The Favorite Night
The rules of the favorite night are simple: one partner takes responsibility for planning a home-based date night for the other around their favorite things. The brilliant thing about the favorite night is that it makes you think about the things your partner likes, and can even make you search your memory for anything they have mentioned lately. Did they say recently that they’d been craving tacos? Have they been wanting to watch their favorite old John Hughes film for months?
Favorite night can be a request or a total surprise, and you can mix it up each time. You might know that your spouse is obsessed with Harry Potter and is a cheeseburger fanatic – and there you have it. Homemade cheeseburgers enjoyed in front of their favorite Harry Potter installment.
The Collaborative Date Night
Many couples find it sexy to cook together. Moving together in the kitchen whilst preparing food can be incredibly sensual, and it’s a great way to get talking and working together. The collaborative date night doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does require putting your heads together.
Plan a three course meal together, and don’t be afraid to branch out and try new recipes that might be a challenge for you. The goal is to create something fun and maybe even a little bit exotic. One spouse takes responsibility for choosing and cooking the appetizer while the other takes charge of whipping up the main dish. Dessert should be something that you make together. Think baking cupcakes and decorating them together, or laying out an amazing spread of ice creams and toppings to create the ultimate sundae – with two spoons. Work together to create your meal, then sit down together with a bottle of wine and enjoy your mutual culinary creations.
The Formal Date Night
There’s only one rule for the formal date night: get snazzy. It doesn’t matter what you’re eating – you could get your favorite frozen pizzas or elevate the collaborative date night with formal dining.
It doesn’t matter – just dress up, do your hair and makeup (if it applies), get out the fancy china dinner plates, light some candles and really show up for date night at home.
The Blackout Night
We’ve all seen couples out for dinner, picking at their food in silence, smartphones glued to their hands. What’s the point, right? Well, the problem is that many of us are also guilty of this and it’s an easy trip to fall into.
The aim of blackout night is to eliminate electronics so that your focus is 100% on one another. You can be as strict with this rule as you want – put your smartphones in a drawer, turn off the television, unplug the phone and leave the tablets in another room. Play boardgames, cards, sit in the backyard around the fire pit, drinking wine and roasting marshmallows. Whatever it is you choose to do, make it intentional and push aside all distractions.
If you want to be more lenient, that’s ok, too. We typically opt for leaving our phones in the other room with our Apple watches (no sneaky notifications) but allow Netflix to pick a movie together. Find out which approach works best for you, but make your rules clear and stick to them. You’ll find yourselves interacting so much more than if your devices are within reach.
The Theme Date Night
This was the first at-home date idea we tried, other than a straightforward movie night with snacks. Theme date night takes dinner and a movie at home to the next level. Think of a theme – it could be a culture, a genre or a historical time period. Align your menu and entertainment so that they go together to create a theme.
Enchiladas with “The Three Amigos.”
Spaghetti and meatballs with “The Godfather.” Don’t forget the cannoli.
Kung Pao Chicken and “Enter the Dragon.”
Steak and beans with “True Grit.”
Nachos and wings with “Any Given Sunday.”
Turkey Legs with “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”
The possibilities are endless, and you’re only limited by your own creativity. You can ramp up the festivities a little bit more by dressing to match the theme. That doesn’t have to mean renting costumes, but simply getting creative with what you have in the closet.
The aim with any of these date ideas is to connect with one another in a different way without having to splurge for a fancy experience or even leave the house. When you start to realize that, as a couple, you can turn any situation into a date, you begin to create more and more opportunities to truly be present and together. And who can ask for more than that in their relationship?
Aindrea and Rich are hosts of the podcast From Long Distance to Marriage. They also run a website to support couples of all types, whether they’re long distance, newly dating, or have been married for years.