When was the last time you and your spouse went on a date? Whether you’ve been married for thirty days or thirty years, spending time together is still the key to a close relationship—and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.

Marriage experts Dave and Claudia Arp offer advice on how to think big romance on a small budget. Claudia shares an affordable, romantic date idea that will help us connect with our spouse on a deeper level.

“One date that we enjoyed that was really quite romantic is doing a formal dinner. You could do it under the stars, but we did it in more in the middle of the day and went to a park. We dressed up, took a table cloth, a candelabra, dishes, silverware, and we picked up our favorite food.”

“We had a boom box playing music, and it was just so much fun; it was really romantic and it was really cheap. We even danced a little bit. A part of the fun was just watching people in the park as they were walking along pointing at us saying, ‘What’s that couple over there doing?’”

David reminds us to take a break from the busyness of life and bring the fun back into our marriages.

“One of our sayings is fun in marriage is serious business. We’ve never met a couple on the way to divorce court that were having fun. I don’t think that was true of previous generations necessarily, but in our current generation and particularly the younger generation, they have much higher expectations for their relationship. They really want that emotional connectedness; they really want to feel like they’re a team and that they’re in this life together.”

“The fun helps you build your relationship and that relationship helps you go the distance. Romantic dates are certainly a part of it.”

Claudia shares another example of a romantic date from their book .

“One of our favorite dates is the ‘Card Shop Date.’ You don’t really have to be in a card shop, you could be in a grocery store, pharmacy, or wherever cards are sold. What we do is we look through the romantic cards and we choose several for each other and just give them to each other right there in the store. We read them and we enjoy them and then we put them back. That keeps it cheap.”

“The takeaway for this date is everybody needs encouragement, whether you’re going through a hard time or not, it makes a real difference to know that someone loves you and is expressing that through a card that they chose or through actions.”

She refers to Philippians 4:8,

“The Apostle Paul encouraged the Philippians to have positive thoughts and to think about what’s true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. The Card Shop Date is an easy way to up the positives in your relationship in a very short time.”

We don’t have to break the bank to go out on a date with our spouse. There are tons of creative, affordable ways to have fun together and strengthen our marriages along the way.

David and Claudia Arp are founders of Marriage Alive International, a ground-breaking ministry dedicated to providing resources and training to empower churches to help build better marriages. The Arps are authors of numerous books and video curricula, including the 10 Great Dates series and the Gold Medallion Award-winning .

Dating your spouse
Also on this edition of Neil Stavem
Leith Anderson on church and culture