Your complete guide to quality date nights with your spouse.



Date Nights. Do we really need them? Technically, no. A marriage can make it without them. But read through these stirring moments from a few of the Wilson date nights and consider what you might be missing.

• A super fancy date night at Lowe’s where something catches my attention and I wander down a different aisle than Mark, and then another, and 15 minutes later I’ve got to call him on the phone because I can’t find him anywhere. Yes, this may have happened more than once.

• Laughing so loudly in the reserved room at the Wild Boar Cafe that we were afraid we might get kicked out. This is what happens when you have a date night with some of your oldest friends (with whom you have no reservations about being your true selves) and you play a board game that leads to some crazy drawings and dramatic presentations.

• Trying out the game the barista recommended at The Haunted Game Cafe and liking it so much we went home and bought it. And now we often take it with us on our coffee shop date nights. Or play it on at home date nights.

• Realizing anew, as we went through a bucket of balls at the Collindale driving rage, just how incredibly uncoordinated I am. At least we made it worthwhile by following it up with a Mud Pie from C.B. Potts. Golf for Mark, dessert for me.

Granted, we don’t have the kind of date nights that involve candlelight, romantic dinners and gazing deeply into each other’s eyes. But being the parents of an 11-year-old and a 6-year-old, what we are really looking for is the opportunity to have an uninterrupted conversation, to eat dinner or dessert slowly (and have some else serve it and clean it up!) and to simply spend some time walking hand in hand with someone whose hand isn’t sticky.

Saturday nights have been our date nights for the past 11 years. We write them into the schedule and hold them sacred. To avoid the cost and hassle of trying to find a sitter, eleven years ago we started a babysitting co-op with three other families. It’s one of the best things we’ve ever done—for our marriage, for our finances and for our kids.

Every Saturday we head to the home of the couple with the largest family and largest house, drop the kids off with whichever couple has babysitting duty for that week, and head out on the town for an hour or two. The number of families has changed (sometimes three, sometimes as many as five) and some families have moved on as their kids got older. But for the past 11 years, we’ve had a date three out of every four weeks and never paid a dime. We benefit from the time together, and our kids love to hang out with friends, play with someone else’s toys and stay up a little later than usual. It’s been a win-win in so many ways.

So, with the long summer evenings upon us, here are a few suggestions for inexpensive evenings out. They don’t take much planning but allow you the opportunity for connection and laughter with your spouse—and help remind you just what it is that made you fall for them all those years ago.

Outdoor options
Take a walk or go for a bike ride in your neighborhood. If you want to explore, take a ride on the MAX and check out a new part of town on foot or on your bikes. Find a nature area you haven’t been to in awhile or lace up your hiking boots for Horsetooth or another nearby trail.

Grab a couple of tennis racquets and ride to the nearest courts. Or head to a driving range to hit a few balls around.

For the nature lovers, head to the CSU flower garden. Grab a coffee from Wild Boar, write down your favorites in a notebook so you’ll know what to add to your yard next spring and enjoy a lovely bit of God’s creation.

Pursue a passion together
If you’ve got something you particularly enjoy consuming, purchasing or doing, make it a goal to find all the spots or ways you can enjoy that together in Fort Collins.

This could be checking out all the places in town that showcase your favorite beverage, be it coffee, wine or beer. Try something new at each place you go or share your favorites with each other. Challenge some other couples and compile lists of what they enjoy and why.

If you have a sweet tooth you like to indulge, check out the dessert places or bakeries in town. (Maybe make this a once a month thing instead of every week and walk or ride there to make yourself feel better.)

The same thing can be done with books (find all the new and used bookstores in town) or the establishments that let you try out/rent games and puzzles. If music is your passion, spend some time figuring out where live music is playing around town. Whatever your particular interest might be, spend a little time thinking through how you might be able to work that into an enjoyable date night.

Connect with others
Time as a couple is a good thing. But it’s pretty easy to multiply the enjoyment by inviting another couple or two to join you in any of the previous activities.

Consider inviting a few friends over to your backyard for an evening. In the summer, we try to plan an evening with friends from our young-married small group days. We are all on different small groups now, so having a night to catch up and share memories is a delight. In the colder months, we reserve a room at a coffee shop, bring a couple of games and invite an assortment of friends to join us.

Dream together
Friends once told us it’s good to take time to dream together, and we’ve found that to be true.

Spend an evening talking about the places you’d like to travel and what you’d like to see there and why. Or walk around Lowe’s or Home Depot and get ideas for things you’d like to do to update your house. Drive to a different neighborhood and be inspired by landscaping, find paint colors you like or dream about the kind of house you’d like to own in 10 years. Take some time to imagine what you might do once the kids are gone—volunteer work, mission trips, travel, new hobbies.

Even if you don’t end up doing all the things you dream about, it can be a fun evening and you might be surprised at what you learn about your spouse.

So take an evening and make a date night wish-list with your spouse. Talk about who you might be able to do a babysitting co-op with. Do a little online research to figure out where you want to go. A little time and effort now and you can end up with your own stories of deeply romantic date nights. Just make sure you don’t leave your cell phone in the car when wandering through large box stores.