“Date Night—at Home,” Ensign, Apr. 1991, 57
My husband and I, with our two toddlers and small baby, lived in a university ward. Often, our leaders stressed the importance of weekly dates for Mom and Dad alone. As students on a limited budget, however, we couldn’t afford a date, not to mention a baby-sitter. We decided we would have to wait to apply the counsel when we could afford to do so.
One wise leader changed our minds. He convinced us that weekly dates are vital to a young couple’s marriage. Time spent together sharing interests helps a couple grow closer and gives them a chance to relax and take a break from daily stresses. Perhaps most important, dates help a couple build a reserve of love. Filled with memories of good times and strong positive feelings, this reserve can help them through difficult times of stress, disagreement, and trial.
My husband and I finally determined to follow this leader’s counsel, even though most of our dates would need to be the stay-at-home type. Alternating the responsibility of planning the dates, we scheduled these evenings on the calendar just as we would any important meeting. We tucked the kids into bed a little early on the night of our date, then began to build our reserve of love.
Since variety is one key to successful dating, we brainstormed a wide range of simple, inexpensive activities we both could enjoy. Many of them would work even for couples whose children are beyond the stage at which they can be tucked into bed early. Here are a few ideas that may work for you, or perhaps these will help you come up with ideas that suit your own needs and preferences as a couple.
Play a favorite board game, or challenge each other to childhood games—such as marbles, jacks, and hopscotch.
Make cookies and take some to a neighbor’s house. Place them on the doorstep, then knock or ring the bell and run to hide.
Read a book, the scriptures, or the Ensign together. If you prefer, read a book during the month, then discuss it in depth on your date night.
Make a list of the goals you want to accomplish in one, five, ten, or twenty-five years. Seal these lists in envelopes with a “to-open” date written clearly on the front.
Make holiday (Christmas, Easter, etc.) decorations for your home. Make Christmas gifts for family members or friends.
Plant a garden or a tree.
Dance to old records or to music on the radio. Learn new steps together.
Plan a special midnight supper, barbecue, picnic (summer or winter), make-your-own-pizza party, or candlelight dinner.
Make popcorn. Watch a favorite television show, video, or athletic event.
Refinish a piece of furniture for your home.
Read past entries from journals. Look at old photo albums and high-school yearbooks. Learn about your spouse’s childhood and teen years.
Plan an upcoming vacation or a second honeymoon—even if it’s only imaginary.
Check out a library book about the constellations, then go look at the stars.
Create your own recipe for homemade ice cream. Try it out!
Wash the car.
Design your dream house or dream yard. Sketch your plans, then share your ideas.
Sing together, with or without a piano. Harmonize, blend. Sing rounds. If you have musical instruments, play a duet.
Watch or listen to a talk show, educational program, or readers’ theater.
Make a collage of your life together to hang on a wall in your home. Include pictures, tickets, programs, and other objects that mean something to both of you.
Trace your family history to learn whether your ancestry ties together anywhere.
Work together to finish one of those monumental tasks that you have put off forever: paint a room, wash windows, or something similar.
Read or reread your patriarchal blessings to each other.
Make a big cookie (the size of a cookie tray) for each other. Decorate it to say “I Love You!”
Teach each other something new, such as a principle of geometry or a bit of a foreign language.
Plan for the handling of your estate.
Paint matching T-shirts.
Read magazine articles or a book based on gospel principles, or one on improving your marriage. Do the assignments or exercises included in the book or articles.
Make a soap-carving gift for each other.
Put together a picture puzzle.
Develop an inexpensive hobby together.
Have an indoor sports tournament, altering some of the equipment as needed. Try miniature golf in a living room obstacle course, balloon volleyball, or bowling with plastic drinking glasses and a child’s ball.
Make chalk drawings on the sidewalk.
Record on tape how you first met, recollections of your first date, memories of your wedding and honeymoon, and thoughts about your first few weeks of marriage. It’s interesting to discover the different impressions your spouse remembers.
Watch the sun set.
Plan a foreign country night. Learn about different customs. Prepare authentic food from the country, and learn how to say “I Love You” in the native language.
Fly a kite.
Prepare a tribute for each other, gathering letters of appreciation from those who know your spouse. Make it into a “This Is Your Life” night.
When you have used up these ideas, spend another evening brainstorming a new list. With creativity and effort, some advance planning and determination to carry out those plans, your stay-at-home dates can help build that important reserve of love every marriage needs.