Think back about the time when you and your partner first started dating. You might have talked on the phone into the wee hours of the morning, getting to know each other deeply. Or went on those long walks just to spend more time with each other. In those experiences, the bonding that took place helped to further your relationship as you grow in mutual understanding and admiration.
As it is now, you may have long exited that “honeymoon” phase of your relationship. Or perhaps, a kid or two may have entered into your busy lives. Your couple bonding time may have decreased in both quantity and quality. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some things you can try out as a couple to reinvigorate bonding.
- Shake up date nights
If you have been visiting the same diner or doing the same activity for your date nights, why not immerse yourselves in a new experience? For instance, a playful time in the fun fair or compete in a game of bowling (winner gets to be fed dessert!). Or perhaps, driving to the beach and have a picnic under the stars.
- Pick up a hobby together
Or better still, teach each other something that you personally enjoy. It could be a language or a musical instrument. Learning from each other and pursuing common interests are great ways to improve fondness and understanding.
- Scrapbook together
In this digital age, perhaps many of your couple photos are stored in your mobile devices. One good bonding activity is to print out these photos (even those from decades ago) and creatively display them in a scrapbook. Relive and preserve these memories, and tell your couple story through scrapbooking. You can also include other memorabilia from your dating times.
- Talk about your day
As cliché as it sounds, the question “how’s your day, darling?” can be a powerful invitation to emotional connection. Listen intently to your partner’s sharing without judgment, and resist the urge to problem solve. Instead, demonstrate empathy and understanding.
- Get to know each other’s inner world
Try this little activity. Answer the following questions on your own to see how much you truly know about your partner before checking in with each other:
- What first attracted my partner to me?
- What is my partner’s favourite childhood memory?
- What is my partner’s favourite movie?
- What is my partner’s favourite music?
- What is my partner’s favourite holiday destination?
- What is my partner’s proudest moment in life?
- Who was my partner’s very first best friend?
- What is my partner’s dream career?
- What stresses are my partner facing lately?
How did you fare? Renowned relationship therapist, Dr. John Gottman (2007), finds that emotionally intelligent couples know and remember key events in each other’s history, and would continually keep up to date with each other’s inner world. Intimate knowledge of your partner serves to deepen your bond and prepares you to better manage stressful events and conflict.
Gottman, J., & Silver, N. (2007) The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. US: Orion Publishing.
Justin Peter (MCS, DCS, BASW, CTRTC)