Can’t Afford Couples Therapy? Here are 8 Inexpensive Alternatives. 

Save Money with this Affordable Resource Guide for Couples

Do you feel like your relationship is stuck in a rut? Perhaps you’re drifting apart slightly or arguing more than usual. 

Maybe you have considered couples therapy, but the prices have skyrocketed, and it can be nearly impossible to find an expert with availability.

You might not even need treatment at all. I’m a certified couples therapist with thirty years of experience, and I know first-hand that there are many things you can do to liven up your relationship on your own. 

NOTE: Online resources cannot take the place of professional assessment and treatment from a licensed professional.

But there are many things you can that cost little to no money that can help you communicate better and feel closer right away. 

DIY Relationship Self-Help in 2023

For the past few years, I have turned hundreds of couples away who have been asking for my help. It’s devastating. Most of my colleagues are also full due to our current mental health crisis. 

So I have been inspired to start researching and creating alternative resources for couples who value relationship health but might not have access to or need traditional couples therapy. 

You deserve to feel loved. And working on a relationship doesn’t have to be hard or painful. Trying new things and exploring new activities together can be one of the most effective ways to keep your relationship healthy and exciting.

Hopefully, something from this list applies to your learning style and situation. So, if you’re ready to revive your relationship, here are some relationship-enhancing activities to get you started.

Free Online Resources for Couples

  1. Empathy Made Easy: A Mini Course for Couples

The single most important communication skill is empathy. Hands down. Empathy is the glue that bonds relationships. 

This course, Empathy Made Easy (written and recorded by me) will teach you exactly what to say and what not to say when one of you is upset. It’s a video series course that you can watch on your own, but ideally recommend you both sit down together and watch this together. 

  1. Date Forever Podcast

The Date Forever Podcast is a weekly relationship podcast that broadcasts out of Australia.  Sammi and Nathan Jaeger chat with couples and experts about the tips and tricks they’ve found to keep a relationship “fuelled up.” They suggest approaching your long-term relationship with the same kind of enthusiastic energy as when you first started dating. 

Sammi and Nate are funny and honest and very good at normalizing the challenges of love and marriage. I’ve had the opportunity to appear on their show twice, and by the end of the episode, I was ready to jump on a plane with my husband and meet up with them for a cup of coffee!

  1. Mini Relationship Toolkit: Printable Handouts

I created a Mini Relationship Toolkit as a fun, non-threatening way to assess your relationship wellness and give you some quick tips to start implementing right away. It’s a 6-page PDF that includes a relationship fitness test, a workout calendar, and a printable empathy cheat sheet.

These worksheets are based on the research of Dr. John Gottman (famous for being able to predict divorce with 90% accuracy), Sue Johnson (famous for applying Attachment Theory to adult couples, and Daniel Goleman (often described as the Father of Emotional Intelligence). 

  1. Intimacy Love Language Assessment Quiz

Gary Chapman introduced the idea of the 5 Love Languages, helping us understand that we all have our own preferences regarding how we like to give or receive love. 

Similarly, we have unique preferences regarding how we like to feel close and connected. There are three kinds of intimacy: emotional intimacy, physical intimacy, and intellectual intimacy. 

This free relationship quiz will take you less than 10 minutes, and it’s a quick way to learn what your intimacy love language is. After each of you takes the test, I recommend forwarding it to you partner and then comparing your answers and talking about them.

  1. Progressive Relaxation Exercise (7 Minutes)

Healthy relationships are made up of individuals who take care of themselves. It’s crucial to practice self-care so that you both can feel grounded, relaxed and happy. 

When you take care of your mind, your heart, and your body, you will be better able to accept the love that is offered to you, and giving to others will likely come from a place of generosity rather than resentment.

Take seven minutes out of your day to relax, put your feet up, and remind yourself you are a beautiful human. Click HERE.

Low-Cost Resources for Couples on a Budget

  1. Create Your Own Communication-Building Relationship Retreat

A communication retreat can provide numerous benefits for your relationship. 

First and foremost, it can help you and your partner learn new communication skills that can be applied in your everyday life. These skills can include active listening, conflict resolution, and expressing emotions effectively. 

Additionally, a retreat can provide a safe and supportive structure for you two to work through any issues or challenges they may be facing. This can lead to a deeper understanding and connection between partners, ultimately strengthening the relationship.

The problem with couples retreats is that they are incredibly expensive. You have to purchase air fare and lodging as well as the cost of the retreat itself which will run you well over $2,000. This might be worth it for a relationship that is hanging on by a thread, but doesn’t make sense for couples who want to prioritize their relationships, have some fun, learn some skills along the way.

The good news is that you can save a boatload of money by creating your own communication relationship retreat in your backyard. You’ll need to carve out a weekend and expect to pay up to $50 for a quality communication workbook written by a qualified relationship expert. 

Love Is an Action Verb, Couples Therapy Workbook is available for $16.99 down from $24.99 (check for current to pricing as Amazon prices are subject to change.) 

  1. Read a Relationship Book, Together

Reading relationship books together can be a beneficial activity for couples for several reasons. 

First, you have a shared learning experience that allows you to hear professional perspectives on relationship health and then reflect on how the concepts apply to your specific situation. Also, better communication can result from the insights and strategies you’ll learn from the texts. Here are some of my favorites. 

I don’t ever use affiliate links, but of course I financially benefit if you purchase my book

3. Go On Regular Date Nights (Free Date Night Planner)

It’s no secret that date nights are a great way to prioritize your relationship and strengthen your emotional bond. Once you carve out time and dedicate space to connect, communicate and have fun, the sky is the limit regarding what kind of memories you can create together. 

This free couples workbook: 52 Dates in 52 Weeks is an interactive planner for you and your partner to explore 145 date night ideas, and choose the ones you like. It includes weekly free date night ideas as well as once-in-a-lifetime bucket list ideas. But most couples don’t take the extra step of turning their dreams into reality by scheduling them and setting up all the logistics required to take action. 

This workbook includes a scheduling calendar and templates to decide who is in charge of implementing the planning task. Click here for your copy.

I Hope these Ideas Will Bring Some Fun and Save You Some Money

Relationship improvement doesn’t have to hurt your bank account. Couples therapy can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be the only option for couples looking to strengthen their relationship. 

I hope these ideas provided you and your sweetheart with some inspiration to plan some inexpensive or free activities to deepen your connection and rediscover your spark.

Did I miss anything?

If you have any other suggestions for inexpensive couples’ activities, please share them in the comments section below.


Laura Silverstein, LCSW

Laura Silverstein is a Certified Gottman Couples Therapist, and author of Love Is An Action Verb.  She has thirty years of clinical experience and is the founder and co-owner of Main Line Counseling Partners, based in Bryn Mawr, PA. Laura is a frequent contributor to The Gottman Relationship Blog and has appeared as a relationship expert in media outlets such as the New York Times, ABC, and Today. She helps couples find more happiness as a research clinician, speaker, trainer, and writer with a positive, action-oriented style.

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