Emily is an expat, a writer, an editor, a vegan foodie, and a bookworm.
Why Do Married Couples Need Projects?
Many married people find themselves stuck in a rut of staying home with nothing to do or spending too much time apart. It's the same for anyone who's been together for a while. Going out on dates can be not only expensive but also repetitive if all that you ever do together is go out to dinner or go to the movies. A great way to grow a relationship is to undertake some long-term projects together. Here are some refreshingly different ideas of projects to do together as a couple without spending too much money.
1) Grow a Garden
There are tons of things to do as a couple that are both fun and productive. My husband and I moved into our apartment in November and immediately decided that growing tomatoes would be a great project to try out - and we did!
Since we live in an apartment, we don't have any land, so we planted a roof garden. It doesn't need to take much money - plant seeds in red paper cups and when they get big enough, transfer them to $1 bins from Dollar General. The only thing you need to spend a lot of money on is the soil. It's a great cheap couple activity!
This is a great dating project - especially for newlyweds - since you are nurturing and watching something grow together. Buying the supplies, planting seeds and watching as they sprout are all fun to do together.
This is a rewarding, long-term project to do as a couple and in the end you can have fun cooking with tasty home-grown ingredients, canning together or even selling the produce at a local market. We grew tomatoes and jalapenos.
2) Brew Your Own Beer
We haven't done this one - yet - but as keen beer drinkers, it is definitely on the list. Have fun as a couple creating your own microbrew. It is an easy project to do if you have a basement or garage. If at the end your beer tastes awful, it is something you can remember and laugh about. If it's great, invite all your friends over and have a party.
My husband and I often go to a good bar or restaurant and sample several different microbrews. This is a fantastic project to do together to get creative and build up some suspense. It is a super cheap activity and something new to try as a couple.
3) Explore Cooking
This is a fantastic alternative to going out for expensive dinners, and a great way to spend more time together as a couple. My husband and I both love cooking - and eating - and at least once a week we make sure to pick a theme and cook a delicious meal. Each week we pick new recipes and cook together. It's the perfect date, and it is something you can turn into a tradition.
We usually get together and do this with friends and beer on a Sunday night, but it is also an ideal romantic date for just the two of you. Some of our favorite cooking adventures have been Greek food, Moroccan food and Indian food - we have also had 'zucchini week', 'spicy week' and 'cheese week'.
Even if you are new to cooking, this is a great way to learn together and save money on eating out - make enough for leftovers and you'll be killing two birds with one stone.
4) Home Improvement
Any little DIY projects are a good opportunity for a couple to bond. If you have some home improvements which need to be done, turn it into a date and do it together. It's ideal because you can get work done and spend quality time together at the same time.
My husband and I make sure we do all our home improvement projects together. We put on some music, make some tea and break out the Ikea furniture sets. He teases me for making everything wonky and I laugh at him for being a perfectionist.
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We made our own deck by breaking up pallets and using the wood to make a small platform just big enough for a couple of chairs and a little table. Not only was it a great and creative way to spend a few afternoons out in the Spring sunshine together, we also have a sense of pride every time we take a drink and the scrabble board out onto our deck.
Helping each other out and supporting each other is key in a relationship - practice the skill by repainting a room together, putting up shelves or even just picking out new furniture.
This is my favorite thing to do with my husband! We met abroad so we both have a bit of wanderlust in us - we have always taken every opportunity to travel together.
Many readers might be thinking - 'yeah, this would be great if we were millionaires!'. Well, you can travel extremely cheaply - we always do! Couple vacations are much cheaper than solo vacations, so take some time to travel as a couple.
We live in the Mid-Atlantic region of the US (Pittsburgh to be precise) and we travel to nearby cities for weekend breaks as often as we can. We generally camp or stay with friends to save money on accommodation, and do a lot of walking and visiting free sights - museums, monuments, gardens and parks, or just browsing shops and streets. Our one luxury is eating out at some fab restaurants.
We've visited DC, Erie and Cleveland over the summer - not exactly a fancy vacation, but all fun trips to take as a couple.
Plan a few short trips together as a couple and enjoy quality time exploring. We used to do this all the time in Europe, too - we picked a town or castle to visit and just went for it. It's surprisingly cheap if you're fine roughing it.
6) New Year's Resolutions
At the beginning of the year, I sat my husband down and asked him to write down 5 things he wanted to accomplish in the year. I did the same, and we compared notes. Throughout the year we have accomplished all the things on the list - from trying 52 new foods to visiting at least 3 new cities, maintaining a healthy weight and saving up for a ticket home for me (I'm originally from England).
It might not be a 'date', exactly, but it is something you can stay conscious of all through the year and support each other in achieving. If you know your SO really wants to lose 20lbs, support him/her by getting into running or cycling together or cooking healthy meals. If you are dying to learn a new language, suggest taking classes together.
Helping each other out with your goals is a great way to try something new together and get closer. They can be free, too, or long-term things you can aim for together step by step.
7) Watching a TV Show
This is a nice easy one which any couple can do on any time limit and any budget. It's also a great one for people in a long-distance relationship. My favorite show of all time is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My husband had never seen it, so I insisted we watch all seven seasons together.
It took a good few months, but it made for some extremely enjoyable evenings in together as well as some entertaining conversations, discussing our favorite episodes and characters. It might be simple, but even something like watching a show together can be a great dating project.
Pick a show you'd both like to see or one you know your SO will love - or ask your SO to suggest a show he or she enjoys. Then, relax and enjoy some free evenings of snuggles together.
8) Pick Up a Hobby
This is a pretty simple tip for couples who have been together for a long time and want to spend more time together, but it is also great for any couple who would like to start a long-term project together.
For my husband and me, it hasn't been difficult so far to come up with things to do - we have lots of things in common, from travelling to cooking and simply going for walks or watching a TV show. There is something to be said for starting out on something entirely new together too.
It can be anything from getting fit together to joining a club, but it's a nice way to have a standing activity you do together every week. We're considering taking up yoga or learning Japanese together (my pick, not his) if we need something to occupy our time once the weather gets bad.
How about you? What long term activities and projects or long-standing date traditions do you have with your significant other?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.