Six Ways to Stay Connected in your Marriage Without Breaking the Bank
I recently read about a local couple that celebrated their 75th anniversary surrounded by their six children and multiple grandchildren. For a couple together for one-third of that time and right in the thick of childrearing, I wondered how they did it. After becoming parents, we get so wrapped up in the day-to-day that many of us forget about nurturing that part of our relationship. Jane Kahle MS. LCPC, a licensed clinical professional counselor says, “A couple should look at their marriage as their first born.” Just as you would not disregard your child when another comes along, Kahle urges parents not to overlook their marriage.
Establishing a regular date with your spouse will help you to stay connected. Too often, parents forgo a much needed date night, choosing to spend their time and money on their children. Kahle advises couples to not always put their marriage last. “Time for a couple with young children is the hardest priority for a young family to fill, especially when finances are stretched. Finding time to be away can be hard, but a date that continues to happen shows the bond between the couple is important.”
In today’s economy, it’s not always easy to keep the family budget in mind when planning your date. A couple may spend $100 on a simple dinner-and-a -movie date, not including the babysitter. Don’t let that stop you. Spending time together is the goal – not how much money you spend. With a little creativity, you can plan a fantastic date without breaking the bank.
Support the local arts in your area – Check with your neighborhood high schools and colleges for their theatre performance schedules. If you prefer music, you will find a variety of choir, band, and orchestra concerts performed by their students, as well. Tickets can be found for under $10 and parking is usually free. Make a night of it by reviewing the show over coffee and dessert.
Head outdoors – No matter what the season, there is plenty to do outside. Enjoy some fresh air and exercise while spending time together. When weather allows, find a shady tree and share a picnic. When it doesn’t, make the most of a snowy day. You are never too old to have a snowball fight or make snow angels.
Volunteer together – Rekindle your love for each other by showing kindness to strangers. Find a charity or cause that you both want to support and ask where you can help. Try working in an animal shelter, running a tent at a fundraising event, or serving in a soup kitchen. The experience you share may turn into a lifelong commitment.
Window Shop – Browse the aisles of a flea market, downtown area or your local mall. Hold hands like a new couple while you search for great bargains or dream about larger purchases. Throw pennies in the fountain or listen to the music of local performers. Enjoy a snack from a food vendor and find a good spot to people watch. Take a picture in a photo booth as a memento from your date.
Be a tourist in your hometown – Grab your camera and head out to see the sights. Every town has tourist attractions in the form of statues, historic buildings, and natural occurrences. Take turns snapping pictures of each other in front of the landmarks that are part of your community. Enjoy a restaurant crawl for two by stopping at several restaurants in town to try a specialty item from each menu.
Stay in for the night – It never fails that on the night you and your spouse have scheduled a date night, one of your kids gets sick or the babysitter cancels. You may have to alter your original plans, but you can still have a date night at home. Once your children are settled, take out the old board games. Dim the lights and bring out a few candles. Pour a glass of wine and turn on some light jazz music. Open the photo albums or play the home movies and enjoy a trip down memory lane.
Spending time alone with your spouse is essential to a healthy marriage. The investment of your time is beneficial in the long term. “If your date nights continue, you are probably working out the issues in the marriage as they come up instead of being blindsided,” explains Kahle. Staying connected with your spouse will make communication easier while you are raising your family and long after your nest is empty.
Pam Molnar is a freelance journalist and mother of three. She and her husbandhave been dating for the past 27 years.