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Real Answers™
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Copyright: © 2009 Greg Asimakoupoulos
720 words

CHEAP DATES IN A DOWN ECONOMY

By: Greg Asimakoupoulos

Sadly, the cost associated with a growing marriage is not immune from inflation. Dinners out add up. So do tickets for a day on the slopes, a night at the movies or a weekend at the beach. When you are paying off your kids’ college tuition, financing remodeling projects in an aging home and constantly quenching your car’s thirst for gasoline, money for dates can be limited (especially in this economy). Fortunately, fun times with your mate need not require a small fortune.

Using One Car

Once home from work, there are always errands that need to be run. It’s not uncommon to need milk and eggs from the supermarket, paint from the hardware store, prescriptions from the pharmacy and dry cleaning that’s ready. Rather than dividing up the to-do list and taking our individual cars, it’s kind of fun to run errands together while listening to our favorite radio station. Doing errands together saves gas (with fuel prices going up again). Besides, when we’re done, we stop at McDonalds for a dollar cone.

Killing Two Birds

As Wendy and I entered our 50s, we recognized our tendency to gain weight while eating modest amounts. Our metabolisms had changed. Counting calories wasn’t sufficient. We needed to add a regular exercise regimen to our daily routines. Membership at a health club wasn’t necessary. We decided to start walking in our suburban neighborhood. Going at a brisk clip, we could cover almost three miles and burn quite a few calories in just 45 minutes. Away from the demands of home and the office, we had time to simply focus on each other. Our bodies and our relationship were being toned up without spending a dime. Not only did we work up a sweat, but we brought up hopes and concerns that we had for our grown girls and aging parents. We held hands and prayed aloud while taking our route in stride.

Drinking Three Cups of Tea

“Three Cups of Tea” is more than a best-selling book about an American mountain climber in Nepal. It also describes a favorite thing that Wendy and I do on a lazy Saturday. We head to an older part of town where local growers and artisans market their fruit, flowers and crafts. We stroll by the stalls, chatting with the vendors and nibbling on the free samples.

It’s a rare day that we buy anything, but without fail we find a little shop that sells loose tea and kitchen gadgets. Inside is a dispenser of hot spiced tea with an invitation to try a free cup. It’s a tradition for each of us to enjoy a cup. Since I drink faster than my bride of 27 years, I pour a second cup.

Splitting Four Egg Omelets

Ever since we started courting, Wendy and I have enjoyed eating out. Early on, we discovered that breakfasts are the least expensive meal in a restaurant. What makes such occasions even more affordable is splitting meals. Four egg omelets are large enough to share (since we are watching our weight). We love visiting a variety of early morning eateries, pretending to be restaurant reviewers. In addition to judging the entrees and the coffee (we’re picky), we look back on the events of the past week and evaluate the way that we spent our time at work and at home.

Taking Five with the Father

Because faith is a huge part of our lives, Wendy and I include someone else in our special times together. We take time to pray together while sipping our first cup of coffee in the morning. As we continue to launch our young adult daughters while caring for our aging parents (not to mention the needs of a growing congregation), we realize that we can’t do it alone. Life is too hard and complicated to attempt without spending a few minutes in prayer with the Creator.

There you have it. It doesn't take a small fortune to invest in your marriage in a down economy. My wife and I have rediscovered the fact that we are truly "wealthy" just having each other. Companionship with a committed mate is priceless. King Solomon weighed in with that bottom-line wisdom long ago. "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work." Ecclesiastes 4:9 (NIV)

"Real Answers™" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091; amyfoundtn@aol.com

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