This is the post that inspired this mini series! We have at least 15 years, if not more, until our kids move out and go to school or get married or start some other adventure and we enter this stage of life. I guess I thought of my own parents when I had the idea for this post (Hi Mom! Hi Dad!) because this is their current stage of life, except for the summers when my sister moves home from college for a couple of months. My hope is that couples will make efforts throughout every stage of their life; from newly married, to early parenting to parenting teenagers and beyond; so that when their kids leave the nest, they can continue their relationship as usual and enjoy having more time together, rather than having to start at square one and get to know each other all over again.
The reality is, a lot of couples get caught up in life and lose their relationship in the process, very unintentionally. In every stage of life, you have responsibilities and challenges that need your attention. It happens almost naturally, that you start to function as business partners and parenting partners and put your romantic partner roles on the back burner while you work together to keep your family and your lives on track. Unless you are intentionally making each other a priority every single day, you will need to reconnect and rediscover your relationship after the kids move out and it’s just the two of you again. And then after retirement, you’ll have even more adjusting to do as you work to find a new dynamic and balance between your time together and your own hobbies and pursuits.
I hope these date night ideas will help in your journey to rediscover and redefine who you are as a couple and what your life together will look like now that you don’t have as much on your plates. I also hope that these ideas will encourage you to spend time together and not fill your days with other activities because you don’t know how to be alone together that much anymore. Life can still take priority over your spouse if you let it, so like every other stage in life, you’ll have to be intentional and make daily effort to put each other first!
For even more date ideas check out the Prioritizing Date Night e-book with over 300 date night ideas for couples in every stage of life and tips for making date night happen no matter what obstacles your quality time faces.
Date Night Ideas for Empty Nesters
Become Season Ticket Holders
We were season ticket holders at our community theater when we were first married and it’s something that I plan to be again when we don’t have as much going on. I hope that happens sooner rather than later, but I also know that life will continue to be busy throughout every stage. My parents started buying season tickets to one of the popular theaters in the area for their Christmas gift a few years back and it provides them with an already planned date night and something fun to do every couple of months.
You can get season tickets for a community theater that puts on plays and musicals or even a more popular theater. We’ve also had season tickets to a musical parody theater near us before and that’s been a lot of fun! Get tickets to the symphony, ballet, comedy club or a sporting event that the two of you love! Now that I’m thinking about it, I have a few different types of season tickets that I’d love for us to have in the future, we’re going to have a lot of fun together when we retire!
Take a Day Trip
Not having anyone relying on you to be home throughout the day means that you can feel free to venture out for as long as you want. You could get away together overnight or just for a day. There’s an island near us that is fun for day trips, with hiking trails and gorgeous views and other activities. You could spend the day at the beach and on the boardwalk or even go to an amusement park. Pick something that interests the two of you, or that you’ve always wanted to do and plan a date day surrounding it.
Make a Bucket List
We have a bucket list of dates that we are continually adding to when we come up with new things that we want to do for date night. As you move into a new stage of life, a date night bucket list can be a great way to find new things to do together and have something to look forward to. Your bucket list can include anything you want, but click here to get some ideas of what to include on yours. Once you’ve created your bucket list, start planning your date nights from it!
Try Something New
A lot of couples fall into a routine with their date nights. They do the same four or five things every time they go out. They eat at the same restaurants, do the same activities or go to specific stores when they’re out on their date. Get out of your comfort zone and do something new together! Creating a bucket list, like mentioned above, can help you do this. Try a new type of food or a restaurant in your area that you’ve never been to, do an activity together that you’ve never done, or explore a new to you area. New experiences bring novelty to a relationship and are really great for your marriage when you experience them together! Don’t step completely away from your favorite dates, but try something new together every once in a while.
Explore Your Town
We love getting out and exploring the area that we live in. The best way to do this is on foot, so you don’t miss seeing any of the little shops and details that you might not notice when you’re driving by. We love to walk down historic main streets, or shopping areas near us. You might also find new trails to explore or just get to know your neighborhood better. Take different routes than you’re used to and really get to know the area where you live.
Take Classes Together
There are a lot of opportunities for couples to learn together, and these classes could make the perfect date night! Search the community course catalog that comes out every season and sign up for a class that interests you both. Community classes are usually either one time classes or a series that takes place at the time every week for four to six weeks total. Your local land grant university will also offer a variety of classes that would be good to take. Relationship education, couples dance classes, cooking classes, etc. are all fun to participate in for date night.
No matter what you decide to do for date night, enjoy your time together! Possibly unlike your newlywed days, I hope that you have a big budget to spend on date night, you don’t have to pay for a babysitter and you can stay out as late as you want or come home as early as you want and not have the kids to worry about or put in bed. Have fun with your date nights, experience new things and get to know each other even better or again!