7 romantic ideas for a date night at home

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When Lori Schmidt Ernest and her husband, Dave, need a date night, they don’t go very far.

“Our favorite date night is to stay home, have some drinks and play games all night,” says Ernest, a mother of one from Gambrills. “It’s just so much easier and convenient to stay in, and we look forward to it.”

Date nights at home are a great option for busy parents and are becoming increasingly popular.

Date night at home WWhen the Ernests have a date night in, they sometimes invite another couple over and play cornhole or horseshoes in the yard, but often it's just the two of them playing board games or darts in the basement.

“We don’t have to pay a sitter and our daughter can get to sleep on time in her own bed,” she says.

Most couples would agree that a date night is an essential part of a healthy marriage, but a recent survey by Care.com — an online service that matches caregivers with those who need them — found that more than 30 percent of married couples had gone six months or more since their last date night.

Couples who take time for date night experience less stress, better communication and stronger commitment in their marriage, according to a study by The Marriage Project, a research initiative based at the University of Virginia, that studies the health of marriage in America today. Their recent study, entitled “The Date Night Opportunity,” also concluded that couples who take time for a regular date night are 3.5 times more likely to report that they have a “very happy” marriage.

But date night doesn’t have to be expensive dinners and costly sitters.

“The best ones we’ve had are when we go outside after the kids are in bed, light our chiminea, make s’mores and play our favorite music,” says Anne Kee, a mom of four from Crofton. “We always end up having a really good time.”

To rekindle your romance right at home, you can do anything from preparing dinner together to star gazing. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

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