MARRIAGE WITHOUT ALL THE “STUFF”

I was talking to a good friend last week about marriage and how much life and our relationships with our spouses has changed over the years. We both asked each other the questions, “What else do you talk to your husband about besides work, kids, and day-to-day responsibilities? How often, if ever, do you sit down with your spouse and talk about what is going on in the world today, the news, or your worries, dreams, goals, etc.?” We had a hard time answering these questions as we both were realizing we often do not talk to our spouses about much more than work, kids, and daily responsibilities.

I know we both walked away from the questions and the conversation anxiously wanting and hoping to have more substance to our marriages. I have been thinking about this conversation all week and decided to put together a list of fun activities to do with your spouse to bring back that ‘spark’ and get your minds and conversations off of the regular, old, boring “stuff”!! Enjoy and happy dating…

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-- 1: Scavenger Hunt

Go on a scavenger hunt around your house! Both of you take your own paper sack, and fill it with 10 items that represent the following things: (1) yourself, (2) your spouse, (3) your pre-marriage dating experience, (4) engagement, (5) wedding, (6) honeymoon, (7) married life, (8) your home, (9) greatest strength as a couple, and (10) your future together. [For example, a diploma may represent your dating experience because you met while in college.] As soon as you have found all 10 of your items, get back together to show and tell.

-- 2: Listen Up

This is a listening exercise to help improve communication skills. One spouse will go first, and be sure to follow these rules: (1) the “talking” spouse talks about himself/herself nonstop for 15 minutes, (2) the “listening” spouse will not say anything, (3) after 15 minutes are up, the roles are reversed and the “listening” spouse becomes the “talking” spouse and the “talking” spouse becomes the “listening” spouse. When you are not speaking, listen very intently to what your spouse is saying. Throughout this activity, your listening will improve because you will not have to spend “listening” time trying to think of a response.

-- 3: Endless Limits

Imagine that you had $5000 to spend on each other. Make a list of all the things you would purchase for your spouse. Dream on!! When your list is complete, exchange and dream together.

-- 4: Your Dream House

Work together to design your dream house, either by writing about it or drawing it out together. Include a floor plan and specific descriptions of each room. Talk about things you will need to make your dream home complete. Your house is an extension of your personality. What do you think your dream house says about the two of you as a couple?

-- 5: Purpose Statement

Write a purpose statement to direct your bond as a couple. Generally, this statement consists of three to five things you want to achieve together. Focus on different areas such as: spiritual, emotional, mental, physical, social or financial needs and goals. Try to narrow down to what you feel is essential for you to accomplish happiness and success in your marriage. Phrase your statement positively as things you will do, rather than things you anticipate to do or will attempt to do. Refer to this statement and goals often. [This can also be done for individual goals and then shared together as a couple.]

-- 6:   Best Five Alive

Have you and your husband both make a list of the five best days you have had in your life thus far. What days stand out as being the most important, memorable or significant? If you can, number them 1 to 5 with 1 being the best “alive” day. When complete, share your list with each other. Describe each day on your list and why they were impactful? What days can you picture in your near and distant future together that you believe and hope will make it into the top ten.

-- 7:   What’s in Your Future

Write your predictions about life in 5, 10, and 25 years. Predict what you will be doing, where you will be residing, how many children you will have, and what things you will have done in your life by those points. Be specific, if possible. You may work on developing these predictions together or writing them separately and then comparing notes when finished.

-- 8:   TP Rolls

Take a roll of toilet paper off the holder in your bathroom and then get comfortable on the floor. Begin to unroll the toilet paper roll. While you are unrolling, complete the statement: “I am happy to be married to you because…” Do stop listening the reasons until the tissue roll is completely unrolled! The more toilet paper on the roll, the more reasons you will need to come up with! When you have finished, hand the empty tube to your spouse and then he/she will roll the toilet paper back onto the roll while also giving reasons why he/she is happy to be married to you. Once you both are complete rolling/unrolling and listing your reasons, put the lumpy roll back in the bathroom, and all week you will remember the things that were said about one another.

-- 9:   Create a Day

Some people celebrate the day of their first date every year or when they first met or their first kiss together or when he proposed. Most couples celebrate their wedding anniversary, but I believe in strong marriages, couples celebrate their relationship continually. For this activity, plan a mini-celebration just for the two of you and mark it down on your calendars! Create a day, or a holiday, you two can celebrate together. When “your” holiday arrives, celebrate with a card or small gift or a special activity together.

-- 10:   A Kiss a Day

You will need a bag of Hershey’s kisses. Cut a piece of paper into may thin strips and give each of 10. Write the following sentence on each strip, completing it differently each time: “I love you because…” Unwrap 10 Hershey’s kisses each, trying to keep the wrapper as complete as possible. Replace the Hershey’s slip with your own, and rewrap the kiss. Now you both can open three kisses, and then open one kiss each day for the next week.

-- 11:   Time Capsule

Put together a time capsule to be opened in a predetermined number of years. Think about the kinds of things your future/current children will want to see when they help you open the box (i.e. pictures of the two of you now, a description of your current abode, pictures of popular fashions and styles, prices of different items, lists of phrases or slang words currently used, a newspaper from the day). Finally, place a letter in the capsule from both of you addressed to your children. Wrap the box up. Write on it the date you want it opened and put it somewhere you will not forget.

-- 12: One House Progressive

Have a progressive dinner without leaving your house! Begin with a light appetizer in the backyard or on your porch. Then come inside for a salad in the living room. Move into the dining room with candles for the main dish. Then eat dessert in bed relaxing and lounging, and have after-dinner mints in a warm, bubble bath.

-- 13: Restaurant Hop

This is a variation of a progressive dinner but instead of moving from house to house (or room to room – see #12), move from restaurant to restaurant. The goal is to go to four or five different places without spending more than $10-15 each. Go to one place for drinks or hors d’oeuvres, then head somewhere else for a small salad or soup, another restaurant for the main dish, and another place for fruit or dessert to finish off the meal. Only have one thing at each stop, then move on. You can get food at a fast food restaurant, a deli, or even a supermarket or convenience store. Be creative and have fun!

-- 14: Adventure in books

Go to a bookstore or library and read children’s books to each other. Find the favorite books you loved as a kid. Reread Where the Wild Things Are, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, or other favorites. When you have finished exploring the kids’ section, recommend adult or adolescent books to each other. Is there anything you read as a teenager or even more recently that you loved and want your spouse to read? Buy or check out these books and then also some books on marriage to read at home.

-- 15: Shopping Spree

Go to a dollar store nearby store that has a wide variety items. Then separate from one another and roam the aisles until you find one perfect gift for your spouse that costs less than one dollar! Be very creative and think outside of the box. Once you have purchased the gift, hide it and keep it a secret until you arrive back home. Exchange the gifts and explain why you choose what you did.

 

What has been your favorite date with your spouse or significant other?

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