Just last week I shared several principles to strengthen every marriage. One of those points was to spend time together as a couple. Believe it or not, life just gets busier and busier. Spending time together can easily become a thing of the past. But it’s so important, and it’s so fun! If you feel like your creativity comes up as short as your time, try a few of these realistic ways to spend time as a couple. They don’t need to cost money, and it doesn’t need to be complicated. As you begin to spend more time together with your spouse, you will watch your appreciation and love for your spouse grow as a result.
Don’t expect anyone to specify an “amount” of time that each couple should spend together. This will look different for each couple, family, and depending largely on stage of life and personal preference. But the best researchers will always indicated that spending as much time together as a couple as possible is the best practice. Finding creative and quality ways to do this can be the challenge. Here are a few of the best things that have worked for us and other couples we admire.
Weekly Date Night:
This is typical. It’s obvious. It’s simple. We’ve probably all heard it. But actually making it happen is a different story.
Make this a goal, and stick to it. Find one night a week and treat it differently. This doesn’t have to be an expensive night out. Dinner is an easy option, but there are so many ways that you can set this night apart.
Since having kids we’ve found that hiring a babysitter can cost more than our dinner out. So we don’t always get a “special night out”, but we’ve never given up our special night.
Whether it’s grabbing take out after the kids are in bed, sitting on the couch watching an old movie with popcorn, or laying a blanket out on the grass, we get our time together. Take turns planning, make sure to throw in some extra special dates, and make it happen.
It’s amazing how separate our lives can be during the week. It’s often a whirlwind just making it to Friday. Just spending time together will help you reconnect before you even realize how much life has been getting in the way.
Find a Hobby – Together:
Hobbies can be big or small, but they will always bring you together. It is by far one of the best ways to force yourselves to spend time together, and make the best memories in the process. Find your “thing” and be willing to try new things. I’ve known couples who rock climb, canoe, hike, bike, star gaze, learn photography, watch every Marvel movie ever made, cook together, and so many more.
Early in our marriage I decided out of the blue that I wanted to run a marathon. Don’t ask why, since I’ve always seen running 3 miles as torture (still do). Ryan’s the runner, so he jumped on board.
Our main goal was that we would train together. We didn’t care about race times or anything else, we just wanted to hang out as we ran each week. We couldn’t always fit the daily runs in, as our schedules clashed. But every single Saturday we found ourselves running together for hours.
Sometimes we talked, sometimes I panted, but Ryan always stayed with me at my far slower pace.
Those Saturday runs are some of my very favorite memories of our marriage, not to mention the In & Out that we earned as a result of burning too many calories.
Making it through the training program and finishing the race was a lot of work, and a long process. But doing it together made it one of the best experiences of our lives. We learned so much about each other in the process of accomplishing something difficult together.
Learn a New Skill:
My sister and her husband love sushi. One day they decided to make it themselves.
After some planning they found some recipes, got lots of new ingredients, and spent the evening making it together. They were fearless, and nailed it the first time.
I’m the type to just head out to dinner at the end of a long week to pay someone else to do all the prep, serving and clean up.
But after hearing about their fun evening, I realized how much fun it can be to challenge yourself to learn a new skill, and there can’t be anything better than learning it together.
Explore Where You Live:
Get out! Explore and find things you never knew were around – new places to eat, new parks to have picnics, or random buildings to explore.
Set aside the time, make the most of your weekends, get out and discover something together. As lame as some activities may seem at first, you’ll be shocked at what you discover along the way.
We live in Las Vegas. The big joke of the state is that God got tired by the time He got to Nevada. Hence, the mountains with literally nothing but rocks.
Having previously lived in Oregon and Utah, we were a little dismayed at first. We had no idea how spoiled we were to have endless mountains, rivers, lakes, and adventures at our fingertips.
What’s funny though, is that it was so easy while we were there, that we rarely took advantage like we should have. Coming to Nevada gave us a bit of a challenge – and one that we were up to.
Discovering as many things about this desert as we can has given us a love for where we live, and an appreciation of our life here together, unlike anything else. From hot springs, to rating the best barbecue restaurants, to checking out various national parks within a couple hours of driving, it’s been an adventure from start to finish.
Make a Simple Goal:
Whether it’s reading 10 pages a night, going on a 30 minute walk each day, waking up earlier, or eating healthier – challenge your spouse to a new goal. Make it competitive, and have a prize waiting at the end of a month.
As you work together to keep your new goal, you will find that you have more meaningful conversations, and come to respect your spouse in new ways. There is nothing more attractive to me than seeing Ryan accomplish something difficult. What could be better than doing this together? Our greatest growth spurts in our relationship come from times where we worked on goals together.
Learn to Love Your Spouse’s Favorites:
I watched my sister in law do this in her marriage. They each LOVED a certain tv show, and neither really cared for the other’s, as they hadn’t grown up with it. After several attempts to get the other to watch with them, they stopped even trying.
When she realized that they needed an activity to do together in the evenings, she made a deal with her husband. They would switch off each night and watch one episode of the other’s favorite tv show with a fun treat. Soon they each grew to love and appreciate the new series.
What at first seemed like a frustrating difference, became a fun and creative way to spend time together.
Rarely do married couples have every single detail in common. You can let this drive you apart, or you can use it as a way to get to know something new about your spouse.
Ryan reads. Always. He’s read a thousand books that I’ve never even heard of. To be honest, until I’ve read a book myself, it always sounds boring to me. Lately I’ve told Ryan to make me a reading list, and I’ve made it a goal to actually read them. I’ve been shocked to find how much my love for him has grown even in the past few months as I recognize that so much of who he is comes from these favorite books of his.
Traveling isn’t always the easiest endeavor. It can be costly, time consuming, and complicated to plan, and difficult to carry out.
But traveling as a couple and family can be such a unique way to spend time together, as you are forced to work together to make each detail happen.
It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, either. Invest in some camping gear, wait for deals on flights and Airbnb’s. Travel to lesser known places (San Diego will always be expensive). Some of our best trips have been to exactly where I was least excited to go. Discovering something new together, and getting out of the busy routine of life is something that every couple could use more of.
Ryan’s sister and her husband lived in North Carolina for two years, and they made the most of every minute of that experience. I doubt if they have any single regret, except not making it out to visit the beach one more time. They decided that was their chance to travel around those beautiful southern states, so they saved extra in some areas, and spent more in the travel area. They found a sign that said, “traveling is worth it” and it’s inspired them (and us) ever since.
Every time I’ve seen pictures of their trips together I can easily see how much it has connected them as a couple, and how many memories it has offered. I think we could all use a little more of that in our lives.
I wanted to expound on this principle of marraige, because Ryan and I have personally found so much joy through the years as we have made it a priority to spend more time together as a couple.
I would say that a consistent factor of the strongest relationships I have seen are those couples who make it a priority to be together. It’s fine to have other interests and hobbies, but it can be impossible to keep the flame of marriage alive without deliberately finding ways to be together.
In order to get to know your spouse, you had to date. Dating means spending time together, and finding fun and new ways to be together. Do not let this be a one time deal to find someone to marry. You and your spouse will always be changing and growing. So keep dating and keep finding ways to be together, and then watch yourself fall in love all over again.
What are some things that have strengthened your marriage and relationship? I’m always on the lookout for new ideas!
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