We had a couple tell us recently, “Our best times as a couple were back when we were dating.” We replied, “Why have you stopped?”

Dating is fuel for your marriage, so don’t EVER stop dating your spouse.

We do understand that dating can be tough sometimes when you have children. We’ve had small children, and we totally understand that sometimes it’s hard to afford both the date AND the babysitter. Here are a couple of date tips for couples …

1. THE DATE DOESN’T HAVE TO BE EXPENSIVE: Sometimes a date can be as simple as ordering off the dollar menu at a fastfood place and taking your food to the park. You can also pack a lunch, go out to a lake or park. You can even go for a walk (that’s free ?). The key is to spend time alone together.

2. OCCASIONAL FANCY DATES ARE IMPORTANT: It’s good to have an occasional “dress up” fancy date. We often save up for a fancy date that may include nice clothes, supper and a concert, etc.

3. BABYSITTING DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A PROBLEM. Childcare doesn’t have to be expensive. Swap babysitting with some friends. Find some friends that have kids about the age of yours, offer to keep their kids on Friday night so they can go on a date, and then have them keep your kids the next night so you can go on a date. Voila, you’ve just scored free childcare.

4. DON’T DOUBLE DATE TOO OFTEN: Double dates are fine, but they don’t count as dates. A date is just you and your spouse. When you double date, chances are there isn’t much communicating going on between just you and your spouse.

5. TINY BABIES CAN GO: If you have a newborn infant, they may have to go with you. It’s okay. 

6. YOUR CHILDREN NEED TO SEE YOU DATE: It’s healthy to leave your children and go out on a date. Don’t lie to yourself and say, “We can’t go on a date. Our poor babies just can’t make it without us.” We promise, they’ll be fine … and it will be good for them.

7. MAKE YOUR MARRIAGE THE PRIORITY ON THE DATE, NOT CONSTANTLY CHECKING ON YOUR KIDS: While on the date don’t spend all your time checking on the kids or even talking about the kids. Spend some time talking about the two of you … your marriage and your future.

8. ONE DATE A WEEK IS HEALTHY: A once a week date is a GREAT goal to set. Shoot for that if possible.

You fell in love because you dated, AND you’ll remain in love when you continue to date. Dating is fuel for your marriage.

Don’t make excuses this weekend, make plans … date plans.