One of my favorite dates I arranged for my husband before we were married was an army man hunt in the park. I took a bag of army men, wrote numbers on the bottom of each one, and then hid them around the park for my husband to find. Each number corresponded to a notecard I had written describing a memory or characteristic I loved about him. He didn’t find them all--I mistaken had purchased the dark green army men which blend in remarkably well with park plants—but the ones he did find he loved.

I used to do all kinds of creative dates like that, and he did as well. We’ve now been married over a year, and I’ve stalled out on dates. I’m not quite sure why; maybe now that I’m out of college and working a grown up job I have less energy and time. Also, it’s easier to plan surprises when you’re not living with the person. However, I’m realizing how important it is to keep dating regularly even in marriage. To keep from falling into a routine and taking your spouse for granted, you need to regularly pursue each other.

In these hard economic times, it’s hard going out every week, especially if you have to hire a sitter. But, that’s no excuse to cut back on date nights; that just means you need to get more creative. My husband and I have enjoyed some fun dates in our own backyard with our fire pit—here is a list of our top three. Not that you need a fire pit to enjoy them, but fire has the right kind of ambiance for a date night, plus it keeps me warm because I’m a pansy when it gets below 75 degrees.

Two Truths and a Lie- I’m sure you’ve played this game. One person comes up with two facts about their life and one lie, and the other person guesses which one is the lie. A simple game, but with a good fire, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, and dark chocolate, this game can last for hours. My husband and I have only been married a year, so I’m still discovering a bunch of new things about him. But, even if you’ve been married 40 years, I bet there are still stories you haven’t heard.

Cribbage- You can get a pretty cheap board at Target or else make a homemade one (ours is made out of cardboard with penny markers). You can look up the rules online if you haven’t played before. But with two patio chairs, an end table, and fire light, this is a relaxing date night. We also up the ante where, beforehand, we make up a wager such as: loser has to do dishes, winner gets a foot rub, or loser has to dance to a Justin Bieber music video.

Audio Book- I know, a little dorky, but my husband and I are both English majors, and this appeals to us. I have a CD player with batteries, so we just check out an audio book from the library and listen to it under the stars. We’re going through the classics right now, but you could listen to Twilight or Lord of the Rings or other books that have been published in this century.

Those are just three of our favorite almost free dates. But if you have your own ideas or do a Google search for inspiration, go for it. There are a ton of date ideas out there on the web, and they may trigger your own date ideas. Just remember to keep dating—keep pursing one another.

Author's Bio: 

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