15 Date Night Ideas for Married Couples to Shake up the Dinner-and-a-Movie Routine

Photo: Getty Images/Klaus Vedfelt
I've always found it kind of odd that every fairy tale ever ends with "…and then they got married and lived happily ever after." I mean, don't get me wrong—the setup can be great, but it's also forever, which means sometimes the vibe is bound to shift from elated and smiley to bored and complacent—especially when it comes to date night ideas for married couples.

In real life, after the figurative honeymoon period (and literal honeymoon) ends, you're less likely to find yourself swept off your feet than with your feet kicked up, marathon-watching vintage episodes of Friends. To be clear, I'm not suggesting marriage is a bummer, but it can definitely become routine.

But all that a stale routine needs is some fresh inspiration. And the good news on that front is that relationship expert Susan Winter says injecting some novelty into date night ideas for married couples shouldn't be a tall task. All it really requires is the reintroduction of a sense of adventure and an element of play. And maybe Yelp.

Adventurous date night ideas

An adrenaline rush can be good for you and doesn't need to be limited to rewatching your favorite horror flick. Again. "The adventure date is designed to break away from routine," Winter says. "It's not just a Friday-night movie or Saturday-night Netflix and pizza; the adventure date shakes things up. It’s a chance for each partner to expand their personal limits and interests."

Pushing past your comfort zone can be an excellent way to grow together as a couple, and even if you don't end up loving what you choose to try, it likely won't be boring. That said, the adventure date isn't one-size-fits-all, and you don't have to do something extreme like skydiving if you're someone whose anxiety spikes whenever you need to make a real phone call.

"Choosing the right type of adventure date requires knowing your partner’s interests and disposition," Winter says. "Some partners are sporty and enjoy the outdoors or a challenging physical activity. Other partners skew more cerebral and prefer mental expansion through culture and the arts."

In order to determine the precise kind of adventure date that might be good for you and your partner, Winter gives some helpful hints by way of breaking them down to their quick and dirty attributes.

1. White water rafting: Exciting, though requires a little stamina and potentially a bit of a travel, depending on where you live geographically.

2. Rock climbing: Challenging. If you're both physically active and want to move beyond occasionally hiking, this could be a fun alternative.

3. A luxurious balloon ride: Exciting and romantic, if not a little pricey.

4. A tango class: Seductive and romantic, and all the contact is perfect for getting that oxytocin going.

5. Skydiving: Thrilling, although not for the faint of heart.

6. Bike trip: Challenging and relaxing, and you can go at your own pace.

7. Bungee jumping: Thrilling, and with the same caveats that come with skydiving.

8. Race-car driving class: Thrilling, but not ideal if you're a terrible driver (me).

9. Tickets to the opera/theatre/other cultural performance: Romantic, artistic, and cultural—and allows you to dress up.

10. A “getting lost” mini road trip: Perfect, no matter what your personality type is. Take the car out for the day and find a literal road you've never traveled before.

Playful date night ideas

"Couples can often forget to 'play,'" Winter says. "Between career, finances, and family responsibilities, laughter and joy—for the sake of joy—is often a lost luxury. So why not have an adult play date?"

Don't mind if we do. And, spoiler: These nights don't necessarily mean the board games of grade-school get-togethers so much as a full-blown activity. And the secret is that no one is expected to be particularly skilled. This means if your partner, say, played golf in college, you might want to skip the mini golf idea. But, to each their own.

11. Mini golf: This is lighthearted and playful, no matter what venue you choose—be it a new blacklight course or an old-fashioned windmill-filled one. "It’s goofy, silly, and of no consequence," Winter says. "There’s no 'win' at stake." (Again, if you're not married to a onetime golf pro.

12. Ice-skating: Some of us only get obsessed with ice-skating during the winter Olympics, and that should change. While this is the perfect activity for those cold months, it's also a pretty good equalizer. "Few people do this activity well," Winter says. "That means you’re both willing to look foolish. Fumbling for your balance automatically activates an added benefit; you’ll need to hold hands to stabilize yourselves."

13. Bowling: "The bar is low on expectations, which is an automatic stress reliever for both people involved," Winter says.

Most bowling alleys also have a side room where you can have drinks and even play pool, and pool, my friends, might just be the sexiest of all sport-like activities. So win-win, no matter what you go for.

14. Trapeze class: This date idea can be categorized as adventure and play, depending on how high above ground that tightwire is hung.

"It can be daunting standing at the top of the ledge but thrilling to actually realize that you can do it," Winter says. "Many cities have a trapeze school. It’s a true adventure, and will be memorable for both of you."

15. Horseback riding: "There’s an incredibly grounding feeling that occurs when riding a horse," Winter says. "It reconnects us to nature and to ourselves—and allows us to enjoy a new experience with our mate."

And now, armed with solid date night ideas for married couples, you can officially ride off into the sunset…happily ever after.

Date night ideas for married couples is one thing, but paying for them is another. Here's how to create financial togetherness with your partner. Also, here are the four things a relationship therapist does to keep her marriage healthy

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