How to Date Intentionally on a Budget

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Dating is something that is so crucial to any romantic relationship, but even more so in marriage. Dating doesn’t stop once your engaged or married. Dating becomes even more valuable once you’re married. Disclaimer though, dating is so much more than getting dressed up, going out, and spending money. It goes way beyond that. It’s showing your spouse that you value time spent with them and that it’s a priority to you. Dating is where you get to find out things about your spouse that you may not have noticed in the chaos of your everyday life. Life gets hard, even in marriage, and it’s always nice to have those nights where you get to laugh, do silly things, make inside jokes, and all the stuff that makes the challenges worth it. That intentional time spent together is what gets you through the hard times.

I’m learning in marriage that living together doesn’t solve the problem of needing more time. I feel like I’m having to fight for time even more now that we’re married. Brad and I have such crazy schedules that we maybe see each other an hour or two each day, if that, and most of that is spent getting ready for bed or doing things we need to have done for the next day. Yeah…it stinks. So, after my many meltdowns, having many meaningless little arguments, and both realizing it was an issue….we made a promise to be more intentional with our time and make date nights a sacred thing.

We have designated Tuesdays as our date nights. We both have crazy schedules and this is what works best for us. Everyone is different, figure out what works best for you. That could even mean having date night every other week..etc. This always gives us something to look forward to and takes the pressure off of having to plan something every single week in the midst of work, church, ministry, school, and my internship. We know ahead of time that Tuesday nights are designated for each other.

My best advice with that is to keep it sacred. Date night is just that…date night. Don’t make plans with someone else or schedule something during that time. Honor your spouse by keeping that time for them. It’s not always easy, but I promise it’s worth it and it makes all the difference. Let your friends and family know that you are unavailable on those days. That way the people around you can help keep you accountable as well.

 

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Another thing marriage has taught me about dating is that dates don’t have to be expensive…and you don’t even have to leave the house. I’m learning how to redefine date night. It’s not all about going out to super fancy restaurant, with food you can’t even pronounce, in your nicest clothes, and then following it up with a movie. That is fun and if that’s your style, that’s totally okay. Myself, personally, am learning that dating is about spending quality, uninterrupted, intentional time with your spouse, which is essentially free.

Brad and I’s favorite date nights are the ones cuddled up on the couch watching a movie or our favorite TV show. It’s nice to just be. We don’t get to slow down very often and it is so nice to be able to rest with your spouse. That is quality time for us. That time of rest is very special to us and we really appreciate that time we get to not do anything. This is also great because it helps us not talk about work and school the whole time, because we are being entertained. We are very busy, work-oriented, type people so we talk about our jobs, ministry, and school a LOT. Sometimes…a little too much..

Another piece of advice I would give that goes along with that is to make sure you are making your time intentional like I talked about earlier. Don’t spend all your time complaining about work..or school..or your co-worker..or your kids. That is fine to talk about on dates, but don’t let it control your time. Make sure you talk about positive things as well. For example, your vacation coming up, what God has been teaching you, what your spouse did recently that you loved, and other things like that. Make date night something you both look forward to, not something you both avoid because it fuels the negativity. Let this time be a space where you shower your spouse with love, affection, and thanksgiving. Let them leave date night always feeling refueled, encouraged, and fully loved.

Our Top 5 Date Nights on a Budget

1. Bowling: We aren’t very good..in fact, we aren’t good at all, but we have so much fun! We love getting to learn a skill together. We laugh, Brad attempts to teach me, and I just end up making a fool out of myself. But, we get to cheer one another on and it makes it super fun! Bowling alleys normally have discount nights or different ways to pay (by the game or by the hour.)

2. Movie/TV show marathons: This is our go-to favorite date night by far. We love to watch movies and our favorite TV shows. We are a binge-watching kind of couple. We just finished Stranger Things and a Harry Potter Marathon in the past few weekends. We love getting to enjoy something together and be entertained, while still being in the comfort of our own home. That part is HUGE for us, being in the comfort of our own home. We are constantly on the go and going out after a long week isn’t always so appealing. So, we like to stay in our comfy clothes, get some pillows and blankets, and relax. And yes! This is considered a date. Don’t beat yourself up for wanting to stay home with your spouse! It counts! AND IT’S FREE!!

3. Drive-in movie: We haven’t got to go to the drive-in just yet, but it’s on my bucket list (see my bucket list here). And this is a super fun date night idea that doesn’t cost much and you can make it your own! Brad and I love movies, so this is right up our alley! I am so excited to hopefully do this soon!

4. The Zoo: Brad and I also love going to the Zoo or Aquarium. Those also normally have discounted days or just don’t cost much in general. The best thing about these types of dates is you never know what to expect but it’s always fun! We also like these types of dates because you get to learn together. You get to explore and experience new things alongside one another.

5. Game night: Brad and I also love games! (How many things can Brad and I love in one post haha) Board games, card games, you name it! So, we love having game nights together. We get to compete, have fun, and place “bets” on one another. It keeps it fun and exciting! This is also FREE! 

BONUS: Double Dates: Do them! Don’t be afraid of them! Spending time with other couples is super refreshing and helps you learn and grow your own relationship. It’s also nice to spend time around people who are like you, in the same season of life as you, and who understand what you’re going through. We, as humans, were created for community and that is still true in marriage. We need to surround ourselves with healthy, God-honoring, married people. We have a group that we call our SQUAD that is four married couples and I always feel so rejuvenated after spending time with them!


To recap…

Intentional time spent with your spouse is important.

Dating doesn’t have to be going out and getting dressed up.

Keep date night sacred.

Don’t be afraid of double dates.

Marriage, and living together, doesn’t automatically mean you’ll more time with each other.

Talk with your spouse, make a plan, and stick to it.

Everyone is different and what works for someone else might not work for you.

Don’t let negative talk control the night, make sure to have positive conversations as well.

Dating does NOT have to be expensive.


Disclaimer: I am still learning this as well. Brad and I just started really implementing this the past few weeks, because we were spending little to no time one on one. If you haven’t implemented this into your own schedule with your spouse, START NOW! Don’t beat yourself up or get discouraged. Schedule a date night for this upcoming week and get excited about it! Your spouse is your best friend and time spent with them is always something we need more of! I am praying for you and your marriages. May we be a generation that beats the 50 percent statistic of divorce. May we be a generation that does marriage well and the right way. 

Until next time,

Courtney

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2 thoughts on “How to Date Intentionally on a Budget

  1. YES! This is so good!! Before we got married we were so cautious about not being alone late at night (which happened to be the only time we had to hang out) so we were constantly going OUT. It was fun, but now we loooove date night at home just chillin’ with dinner and Netflix! Bowling is a fun one for us too. I always win lowest score and I am not ashamed.

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