Schedule some time alone without breaking the bank.

In search of the elusive date night, my husband and I have had many a fail.  Some of these tricky evenings have ended in a fight or, worse, failed to get off the ground- with one of us refusing to participate before we even left the house.

The culprits in these date night grievances?  Unrealistic expectations.  I must admit that I’ve usually been the guilty party in building the evening up to momentous proportions, leaving my husband walking on eggshells throughout the night.

Here are a few ideas we’ve settled into that fit the bill nicely- both because they are affordable, and because they leave the focus on just being together, versus creating an “experience.

I hope you’ll add your favorites to the list!

1.  Happy Hour

Share a drink or take advantage of bargain appetizers after work.

2.  Bookstore and Coffee

Meet at your favorite bookstore and browse the stacks while you sip on your favorite brew.

3.  Strip Poker

Yes, I’m going there.  This was one of our go-to favorites the first year we were married.  We’ve brought it out again now that the kids are gone.

4.  Dinner and a Movie at Home

You can do this anytime, but make it special by planning a show you’ll both like and cooking together.

5.  Couples Game Night

Invite a few friends over for a couple of board games and throw together some easy snacks.

6.  Driving Range

For the cost of a bucket of balls, you can get out frustrations and have a few laughs.

7.  Shooting Range

Same as above, but more gratifying.

8.  Shake Shop

Choose your favorite shake or smoothie place and eat dessert first!

9.  Memory Lane

Break out the movies and albums and spend an hour or two talking about what great parents you are.

10.  Bike Shopping/Bike Rental

Toy with the idea of buying a high-end bike and check out your favorites.

Just because you’ve struck out on date night in the past, doesn’t mean you should table time together. If you’re approaching empty nest or in it already, now’s the time to invest in the two of you. Take an evening to resurrect some old dreams and passions with one of these ideas.