In long-term relationships it can be easy to fall into a lazy lifestyle, filled with late nights on the couch and take-out dinners—especially if you cohabitate. These comfortable habits can quickly turn into stale patterns that make life less than exciting, and whether your relationship is new or seasoned, no one likes boring.
Make the extra effort to try some new activities as a couple. The following ideas can be done together and will improve your life in many ways, whether you’re working out or making extra cash—a win-win for you and your partner.
Psychology Today reports that couples who sweat together, stay together. Joint fitness boosts endorphins, attraction towards one another, and your emotional bonds. If you don’t love to do the same type of workout—perhaps one of you loves yoga and the other is a diehard crossfitter—you can still get your heartrate up together.
Try active dates like stand up paddle boarding, hiking, or indoor rock climbing, even if you’re both at different fitness levels. Any physical activity, especially those outdoors, can help to release toxins and frustration, and create an overall positive feeling in your relationship. You can always hop back on the couch for your favorite show when you’re done.
Improve your life: Set some goals for what you’ll do together. For example, you might say, “We’re going to work our way up to a 6-mile hike by the end of the year.” Working toward a common goal will bring you together while making you accountable.
Share the Chores
No one likes chores, but doing them together can improve your relationship. A recent study from Cornell explains: “Contemporary couples who adhere to a more egalitarian division of labor are the only couples who have experienced an increase in sexual frequency compared to their counterparts of the past. Other groups—including those where the woman does the bulk of the housework—have experienced declines in sexual frequency.”
Not only will you be done faster with four hands working instead of two, but you may find that one of you loves vacuuming while the other doesn’t mind dishes. Split up the work based on what you each enjoy and make sure to sneak a few smooches while you clean.
Improve your life: Choose one day a week to tackle chores together based on what you both prefer to do. Choose a fun activity to do after, so you both have something to work toward and can enjoy “fun time” when your chores are done.
Bad competitive attitudes can cause a rift between the two of you—which is why we’re talking about making time for healthy competition. Activities like kickball or a weekly poker game, for example, are both fun, and when done with your partner, allow you to practice positive and respectful competition.
This may be especially helpful if you bicker a lot. Finding a way to speak your mind and be competitive, in a casual environment, may translate to reduced bickering in your personal life.
Psychologist María Elena López explains that this supportive competition can “motivate us to improve our lives and reach our goals. It can also provide the best stimuli for a couple to face any obstacle, and reach common aspirations.” Even when you’re playing on different teams, you can still celebrate each other’s wins on the car ride home.
Improve your life: The bonus with poker is that you can make extra cash too. “Many people make a good money playing poker. There is really no limit to the amount of money one can make from playing,” says Mats Johnson, Executive Director for Global Poker. Find a local group, where you can have fun but still reap some of those financial rewards.
Take a Class Together
Classes are a fun way to learn a new skill, while taking both of you out of your comfort zones. Get creative when looking for classes. While dancing or cooking may be go-to ideas, check out cool options like mixology, salsa dancing, or scuba diving. Choose one that you’re both excited about.
You’ll reap the benefits of stepping away from the couch, whether you head to a pottery studio or out into the open ocean. Trying something new has been shown to release dopamine, the happy chemical in your brain. Not to mention, doing this with a partner connects your relationship to that feel-good emotion.
Improve your life: The fun doesn’t have to stop after the class itself. When you take a class that you can also practice at home, like cooking, you’ll have a sense of camaraderie while re-living a happy, shared experience.
Play Retro Games
Think back to what your parents or grandparents played—classic games and activities that catered to two players, like Yahtzee or Backgammon. These games are simple, low-pressure, and perfect for a leisurely afternoon.
You can also try long term activities like jigsaw puzzles. While puzzling has innumerable positive benefits, working on one with a partner is great for cooperative problem solving, suggests USA Today. Completing a puzzle together also allows you to achieve a definable goal together.
Improve your life: These “retro” games are inexpensive, both in-store and online. Invest in a few new puzzles and one or two games and then bring them out for date night, or a random Thursday with an end-of-week beverage.
Relationships can be difficult. Combined with the stresses of our regular lives, it can be easy to fall into the same boring routines with your partner. Don’t let this cause long-term damage, and instead, bring new activities into the picture. Whether you’re puzzling or scuba diving, you’ll boost your bond, see new sides of one another, and start building a life you can both be proud of.