Couple in Movie Theater

Keeping the Love Alive

A romantic dinner by candlelight is hard to swing when you have a crying child and no babysitter available, but date nights are important to keeping the spark in your relationship alive. Most couples don’t have nearly enough quality alone time, so make time for a date!

Dating isn’t just for getting to know someone, it is essential to keeping your marriage or relationship happy and healthy. A study by the National Marriage Project called ‘The Date Night Opportunity’ found that date nights are a symptom (or cause) of a great marriage; in fact, 3.5 times more likely to be happy.

Date nights help keep communication alive. When you’ve had a long day at work or a tiring day looking after a high-energy toddler, it’s hard to take the energy to just be together. But at date night, the pressure is off. You can talk as a couple, have fun, and laugh.

“Date nights are when you remember that you are more than parents. You are sweethearts and hopefully friends,” said Mary Maisey-Ireland, a Rapid City wedding ceremony planner and officiant who has been married for over 30 years. “It will help if you make a pact not to talk about the kids on date night. This is not the time to hash out how to discipline, what to do about Little Johnny’s grades, or review your budget. I encourage you to set appointments to talk about all of those things when you can give them your total, uninterrupted focus. Date night is about taking a mini-vacation from all of that, and focusing on connecting with and enjoying each other.”

@momofmanytoes: We wait until Wednesday night when they all go to youth group. We have 1 1/2 hours of peace and we sneak a meal at the local cafe.

Mary suggested that couples consider setting some constraints like setting and sticking to a budget, no repeats for at least six dates (to encourage creative and present getting into a dinner and movie rut!), one outdoor date planned by each, and one “brand new activity” date planned by each.

“It also helps to take turns doing the planning. This means alternating the responsibility for deciding where you’ll go, what you’ll do, and setting up childcare between you,” explained Mary. “This gives each of you a chance to be courted, and the one doing the courting!”

These date nights give spouses the opportunity to get dressed up, be polite, compliment each other, and remember why you fell in love in the first place.

Sure, a date night sounds good and all, but how do you pull it off? If you have the budget for it, find a babysitter. Ask your other parent friends for recommendations, usually responsible teenagers or college students are great, moderately cheap options.

If your budget is too tight for a sitter, ask if you can drop them off at grandma’s house. The grandparents get to spend time bonding with the kids, the kids have a fun time, and you and your spouse get a romantic evening with no distractions. Other family members or close friends may be willing to watch your kids for free, just ask politely and maybe throw in a pizza!

@_frozentexan_: We plan a date night at home once each month. We get fancy cheese, crackers, fruit, chocolate, wine or beer, and enjoy what we call the “Finer Things Club” once the kids go to bed. We catch up on a show or just talk until we’re tired – something we look forward to every month!

Cheap Date Nights

  • Explore your city’s downtown area
  • Check out a museum like the South Dakota Air & Space Museum or the City of Presidents information center
  • Go on a hike through nature
    • If $20 for Custer State Park is too expensive, find trails in the Black Hills National Forest, which is completely free and open, or Spearfish Canyon.
  • Take a class together at the Outdoor Campus – West
  • Visit local bookstores
  • Have a picnic in the park
  • Take a drive through the hills


By Kelsey Sinclair