When you feel a lack of love or quality time together in your marriage or relationship, you don’t necessarily need to rush out the door to marriage counseling. Although marriage counseling is wonderful in its own right, try something simpler first, since even without knowing you, I know that you want the fastest and even more cost-effective way to relationship health.
Follow these simple steps to relate better, and learn to make sweet memories once again, during some set aside “no-stress” relationship time. Make it a goal to set aside ten hours a week devoted to this time where you don’t talk about stress. This small amount of time is equal to just over an hour a day, or one three hour date night a weem with about thirty minutes on the other days! Here are the basics.
SIMPLE RULES FOR TIME TOGETHER
- Couples should be physically touching or looking at each other (or both, even better!) during at least some of this time.
- Couples should be alone, at least a fair amount of the time (If you are home and have small children, interruptions may be expected, etc).
- Couples should not discuss problems during this time. Problems can be talked about at other times of course, but during this special “no-stress” relationship time, problems should not intentionally be discussed, although if something comes up on an occasional time, don’t keep score. Just make sure it stays basically free of problems, so you can honor that time.
- Couples should ideally find something to do together that both enjoy to some degree.
Now that we’ve established some basic rules about your time together, its time to build a list of fun things you like doing together during your “no-stress” relationship time. Make sure to include physical time together, emotional time together, and if both are willing, spiritual time together:
Here is a sample list of things that can be done for inexpensively at home, or on a local date, depending on the season and your personal calendars and interests.
IDEAS FOR ENERGIZING OUR RELATIONSHIP TIME
- Playing a favorite board game with a snack you enjoy.
- Physical intimacy (As you grow closer, both spouses can share their ideas for making this area better also, such as creating a romantic setting, sharing favorite techniques, etc.).
- Watching a show together while you cuddle or trade turns back scratching.
- Listening to favorite songs together.
- Going to a favorite restaurant.
- Having a bake-off with sweet treats.
- Playing a sport against each other.
- Going for walks or jogs or getting in shape together.
- Having a picnic.
- Working on a fun project together.
- Going on a “date” that interests you both.
- Doing a puzzle together.
- Taking a dance class together.
Though most of us don’t get a chance to have a quote on quote “date night” every week, a couple can easily try for some of the above strategies several times a week, even if you’re still building up to the goal of ten hours a week. If you are not working opposite shifts or traveling frequently, the good news is, with a little planning, the ten hours of “no-stress” relationship time together should be completely doable. The truth is, if you aren’t willing to set aside something else a few times a week to focus on your relationship, you really can’t expect any lasting results.
After reading the above ideas and adding your own ideas to the mix, make a short list of things you will try doing together, and share when you will likely try doing them. Many couples do a sitter swap with other couples with children from church or work, so they can get free babysitting for the out and about dates, or hire a local teen from church to sit. A date could be as simple as sharing a foot-long sub, a bags of chips, a piece of fruit, and a pack of cards, just so long as you set aside the time together, and you generally avoid talking about problems. After making the list, brainstorm some more, and then refine the list with your partner if possible, so you have a list that works for both of you. Once you get through the initial lists and start spending time together in this problem-free zone, this relationship time will probably be the most satisfying times in your week, and your list will grow more diverse. You may even find a new hobby together, or remember an old pastime in this exercise. Enjoy!