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By Alana Gregg, MS

School’s almost out! Can you believe it? The summer can be a really fun time to reconnect with your spouse when during the year you pass like ships in the night. Maybe you’re in the movie night funk like my husband and I have been because by the time the end of the day comes you’re exhausted. Maybe during a year of quarantine (with nothing else to do) it has been your go to. While I’m not knocking movie night (movie and pizza are synonymous with Friday), screen time may be robbing you of a chance to really connect with your spouse. 

Being Intentional

It’s important to be intentional about connecting. It can be really easy to drift apart or get stuck in a routine. Before you know it, it’s been weeks before we have had a real conversation that doesn’t involve logistics and who is gonna drive who where. I don’t mean to be an alarmist. Some seasons of life are busier than others and it might not be realistic to have a date night every week. This doesn’t mean your marriage is doomed to fail! It does mean that it’s important to pay attention to the dynamic of your relationship.

Logistics

How often should you plan a date night? What would be realistic for you? Once a week? Twice a month? Everyone has different schedules and financial situations. Remember the goal isn’t to put more pressure on your marriage to do more activities. The goal is to be intentional about connecting and doing things you enjoy together. Having small children may also mean you need to factor in the cost of babysitting. Do you have family in the area that can watch them for free? Could you swap babysitting with another couple? You each get a night out and free babysitting. It’s a win-win!

Date Night Ideas

Here are 8 ideas for low (or no) cost activities to do with your spouse:

1. Parks: Finding a nearby park or hiking trail can be a great way to spend time with your spouse while doing something active. Being in nature is nourishing to the soul and can provide beautiful scenery for your quality time. It is free and allows you to be adventurous while adding the benefits of lowering stress and improving your health. You can even throw in a picnic!

2. Order in: There are times when going out is more trouble than it’s worth when you have small children. There have been many times my husband and I have chosen to order appetizers after we put our kids to bed and bring them home. We still get to eat yummy food but we force ourselves to eat at the table instead of in front of the TV which gives us the opportunity to talk and share things about our week.

3. Board games: Nothing like a little friendly competition to improve a relationship! Dust off your Monopoly or find a new favorite like Ticket to Ride. You can laugh and joke around while trash talking each other. May the best person win!

4. Movie with a twist: My husband found an old projector that we use to show a movie on an old sheet we set up outside. It’s a fun way to still relax but with different scenery and some fresh air. Throw in some popcorn and blanket and it’s a great way to spend a night together.

5. Free museums: If you are able to get out, there are lots of museums in the Philadelphia area that offer free days. The Art Museum has a pay what you wish option on the first Sunday of the month. Many local libraries also offer free tickets to gardens and museums in the area.

6. Farmers Markets: The summer is the best time to purchase delicious fresh fruits and vegetables at your local farmers market. You can walk through the vendors and only need to purchase what you can use. My favorite is the Ambler Farmers Market located only five minutes from our Lime Tree Counseling office.

7. Dance in the kitchen: Dancing can be silly or romantic. One of the sweetest memories I have of my parents growing up was seeing them slow dance in the kitchen together. Half the time there wasn’t even music playing. Your kids really do watch you and how you interact together. Another idea is to learn a new dance by watching a Youtube tutorial video. My family spent a night last summer learning country line dancing. Sure my kids spent half the time flossing but it was still fun.

8. Watch thunderstorms: My husband’s favorite thing to do in the summer is to watch thunderstorms. It’s so fun watching him turn into a little kid watching the sky light up with streaks of lightning. So we have made it a tradition to (at least a few times a summer) grab a drink, sit on our covered porch and watch the storm together. You may even get the added benefit of a cuddle.

Marriage Counseling

It has been my experience from having provided marriage therapy in Ambler, PA that many relationships don’t struggle because there was a giant problem that came out of nowhere. It’s more likely that there were little issues along the way that were never addressed and the couple allowed themselves to drift apart. You may also struggle with having different interests or ideas than your spouse. Is there a healthy balance in your relationship where you each bend to do something the other person enjoys? Or are you the one always doing the bending? It’s not about whose needs or wants are more important. It’s about finding ways for both of your needs to be met. 

At Lime Tree Counseling, our counselors understand the pain and loneliness of being disconnected from your spouse and would love to help you figure out what is blocking you from having the relationship you are longing for. Marriage counseling isn’t just for crisis situations, it can be helpful to “fine tune” a relationship that may be stuck. We offer Marriage Counseling in Ambler, PA, online counseling in Pennsylvania and online counseling in Colorado. If you are struggling, please don’t hesitate to call our office and schedule an appointment or schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation to see if marriage counseling is right for you.