Date night: Overrated or Underestimated?

My husband is about as frugal as they come. It is a quality that over the years I have grown to love. He still wears shirts from the County Seat. If you’re unfamiliar with this popular 90’s chain store, it’s because it filed for bankruptcy and became obsolete nearly 20 years ago.

Excuse me a minute while I go burn part of his wardrobe.

This frugal lifestyle is one that I have learned to embrace. Though I am far more frivolous than my husband, we both try to keep a “buy less, waste less” attitude towards life. So when it comes to making time for “just the two of us,” it isn’t always a priority if it comes with a price tag. This has been met with some hard-hitting criticism throughout our 15 years of marriage from other “happily married” couples.

Date night: Overrated or Underestimated?

Admittedly, we don’t have a great track record when it comes to date nights. Especially given that I am a high school teacher and have a plethora of incredibly responsible, fun-loving teens at my fingertips begging to babysit my children. But, to pay these people what they are worth is outrageous. Therefore, we have only paid a babysitter 5 times in the 11 years that we have had children.

Pathetic, I know.

However, according to care.com the going rate for a babysitter in Cedar Rapids for 3 children is $16.00/hr. Do you mamas actually pay this?! This is crazy to me as it is over double the minimum wage for Iowa. Let’s be honest, they are making a little mac-n-cheese and playing a few games of Uno; this isn’t rocket science. 

My babysitters are worth the money. My children are worth the money. My husband is worth the money. Yet, I refuse to cough up the cash, because date night is not the end-all, be-all of our marriage.

There is no quintessential quota of date nights that are going to change a marriage any more drastically than a husband leaving the toilet seat up might. If I can’t maintain a connected relationship with my husband in our own home, moving that relationship to a different location or atmosphere probably isn’t going to change a whole lot either.

The lack of date nights at our house does not mean there is a lack of connection. If anything, I would argue that there is more. We have established a place where we both want to spend time. We both know how to make the most of even the most mundane of evenings. We both know how to relish in the simpler things that our life together has to offer. 

  • We have movie nights. The 9pm show happens on our couch next to the glow of the fireplace. *Bonus, we can smuggle in any food or drink that we want.
  • We have pint nights. We can choose if that pint will be Blue Moon or Ben and Jerry’s and I can wear yoga pants for either one.
  • We have go-carts dates. There is a long-standing Mario Cart battle alive and running in our house right now. Princess Peach forever.
Date night: Overrated or Underestimated?
Blur out the laundry, the dishes in the sink, the kids in their beds…and focus on date night!

Our “date nights” happen after our children go to bed. We still make time for uninterrupted conversation and fun. Making your spouse a priority does not have to involve coordinating a babysitter, calling for a reservation or calculating how expensive of an evening you just had.

I won’t presume to compare my marriage to another, but if I remove myself (figuratively speaking) from our relationship, what I see from the outside looking in is pretty remarkable. My husband is still the guy I would choose over and over again. I’m pretty sure he feels the same about me. Whatever superficial things that we fell in love with many moons ago, have molded into age, wrinkles, or pounds that carry with them wisdom, love, and compassion. Separate, we’re cheap champagne. Together, we’re a fine wine. I love that our fine wine comes with a box wine price tag.

What do you do for “date night” in your marriage? How do you maintain a connection while maintaining a budget? Do you keep a babysitter budget and, if so, can I pry into your life and ask what it is?

My biggest fear is that someday my husband and I will have grown apart and we’ll look back at these thoughts and realize how completely wrong we were. How there is no price tag too high for investing in your marriage. However, I am putting all of my eggs in the one basket that will rejoice when our children have flown the coop and my husband and I are sitting on a nest egg that may allow us to retire contently. To perhaps travel parts of this beautiful world together.

Maybe discover even more reasons why each day we continue to choose each other. Is this crazy thinking?!

Happy dating! May whatever you invest in your relationship reward you with a strong and lasting connection.

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  1. I love this. We seldom hire a babysitter, and on the rare occasion we do go out to dinner and spend more than we’re comfortable with, I wish we’d just gone out for coffee. We’re home bodies and preparing for a babysitter and deciding how to make the most of our two hours out often makes date nights more effort than they’re worth. That said, I confess that I’m terrible at focusing on connection and making things special at home. The kids go to bed and I’m done. Here’s to more date nights at home!

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