Most Important Lesson for a Strong Marriage

strong_marriage_nowWhat do you imagine is the single most important commodity in a marriage? (No, it is not more sleep.) It’s Time; and by Time, I mean Time Alone Together. This is one of the most important lessons couples need to learn; it is also the lesson that most couples struggle with every day. Putting this lesson into action supports everything else, from communication, showing affection, and sex, to making your marriage fun and exciting and most of all, to making it work!

The average couple can spend as little as one hour alone together per week; the average couple with kids – sometimes none. The average two people having an affair spend at least 15 hours per week together! Think about that for a moment. Those two people somehow manage to find 15 hours together in spite of all their other commitments, (which often include other spouses and children, etc.). When I work with couples, I ask them to find a mere 8 hours a week for each other. They frequently tell me how difficult this is for them.

Make Sure You’re Growing Together, Not Apart

Remember when you were first together and you couldn’t get enough of each other? You spent hours talking and laughing, learning about each other, what you cared about, what your dreams were, what your fears were, what you liked about each other? What most people don’t realize is those things continue to grow and change over time and if we’re not checking in and spending time with each other, we are, by definition, growing away from each other and potentially growing apart.

I don’t know how many couples have come to me over the years on the verge of divorce, that tell me there are no major issues, but they’ve just “grown apart.” What “grown apart” tells me is that they have not been spending enough time together. If you do not continue to connect throughout your married life, you run the risk of being married to a stranger.

The reality is, it is virtually impossible to be in love with someone you don’t really know and are not connected with; and it is virtually impossible to truly know someone with whom you never spend time; you can certainly “love” them – but be “in love”? No.

There’s a reason why 90% of long distance relationships fail within a year. They simply don’t spend enough time together. Further, as we’ve already mentioned, couples that don’t spend enough time alone together can’t meet each other’s emotional needs and as such, one or both may be tempted into an affair. If you’re not meeting each other’s needs, chances greatly increase that one or both of you may be more easily tempted to find someone else who will.

Time Makes Everything Else Easier

Of course there are other critical components in a happy, healthy marriage, like communication and affection, to name just a few. But how can you work on communication, if you never have the time to talk to each other? How can you work on affection if you don’t spend time together? How can you resolve money issues if you’re rarely in the same room? How can you learn to be a team, if you’re always alone?

I can explain, in great detail about all of these topics, but unless you take the time to be alone to talk with each other, to be affectionate with one another and to enjoy each other, you’ve lost the single most vital component in any marriage and things can only begin to crumble.

The relationship you build and maintain between the two of you is the foundation of the marriage and the family.

If you don’t take the time, you don’t have a relationship.

If you don’t have a relationship, the family suffers. It bears repeating: It is virtually impossible to have a happy, healthy marriage without regularly spending enough time alone together.

Together Activities

The whole point of together activities is to spend time alone together. Remember that your number one objective is to connect. This can happen in any location where you can let your guard down and talk with each other.

Here are more than 100 ideas of activities that you and your spouse can do together! I recommend that each of you take a look at the list and choose 10 things you’d like to do together, (feel free to come up with your own ideas!). Then sit down and discuss the objective, the location and the budget.

Free Activities

1. Make a puzzle
2. Go for a hike
3. Do Tai Chi or yoga
4. Stroll through an historic neighborhood
5. Stretch
6. Go for a walk in a new part of town
7. Explore downtown on foot
8. Go for a jog
9. Go for a bike ride
10. Work in the garden
11. Play cards
12. Hang out on the patio
13. Write and discuss a gratitude list
14. Listen to music
15. Go to a park
16. Go to the beach
17. Go to the lake or river
18. Window-shop
19. Checkout a museum on its free day
20. Browse book stores
21. Choose books together at the library
22. Go for a scenic drive
23. Check out the open houses in your neighborhood
24. Sit on a park bench and people watch
25. Play a board game
26. Dance in your living room
27. Go to a concert in the park
28. Sit by the fire
29. Watch the sunset
30. Wander around on the boardwalk
31. Sunbathe together
32. Go to an art fair
33. Walk the dog
34. Play with your pets
35. Volunteer
36. Bathe or shower together
37. Give each other back massages
38. Foot rubbing
39. Help each other with chores
40. Show each other where you played as kids
41. Revisit places where you had fun earlier in your relationship – Reminisce and connect
42. Go stargazing
43. Make a home movie together
44. Splash around in the rain
45. Pop into an art gallery
46. Play Frisbee
47. Play soccer
48. Go roller skating
49. Fly a kite
50. Look up “Hidden spots” in your city on the web and go to one
51. Go for a swim
52. Skinny-dip
53. Hang out in a Jacuzzi

Low-Cost ($) Activities

1. Workout at the gym
2. Go kayaking
3. Go out for coffee
4. Go on a picnic
5. Work on an art project
6. Visit the local holiday celebration
7. Find and make recipes together
8. Go berry picking
9. Go see a local band
10. Go camping
11. Go out for ice cream
12. Go bowling
13. Play a round of miniature golf
14. Go to “Annual events – car shows, boat shows, gardening shows”
15. Run errands
16. Go to a local mall
17. Take advantage of 2 for 1 coupons – checkout Restaurant.com for great deals
18. Go to the farmers market
19. Go snorkeling
20. Go ice skating
21. Checkout a nearby town (shops or restaurants?)

Affordable ($$) Activities

1. Watch StrongMarriageNow videos
2. Work on a home improvement project
3. Go out for lunch
4. Go wine tasting
5. Rent paddleboats
6. Go sailing
7. See a sporting event
8. Go to a county fair
9. Go out dancing
10. Go to the zoo
11. Go to an arcade
12. Play paintball
13. Play laser tag
14. Go out to dinner
15. Go go-kart racing
16. Go whale watching
17. Play a round of golf
18. Shop for bedroom toys
19. Go to a Wine Bar or Lounge
20. Sing Karaoke
21. Go rock Climbing
22. Go horseback riding
23. Go on a riverboat cruise
24. Go on harbor cruise
25. Go on a gondola ride
26. Go on a romantic train ride
27. Go out for a drink and appetizers

Splurge ($$$) Activities

1. Go to a concert
2. Go to an amusement park
3. Take dance lessons
4. Go on a dinner cruise
5. Go to dinner at a fancy restaurant
6. Get tickets to a concert you really want to see
7. Have a “Staycation” – Spend a night at a hotel in your own city
8. Take a Segway (upright scooter)
9. Go Boating
10. Go to dinner and a comedy show
11. Go on a horse and buggy ride
12. Go dirt bike riding

Extravagant ($$$$) Activities

1. Go scuba diving
2. Go on hot air balloon ride
3. Go Skiing / Snowboarding
4. Plan Weekend Getaways

What You Need To Know

1. Spending at least 8 hours a week of quality time alone together makes everything easier in your marriage.
2. The relationship between the two of you is the foundation of the marriage and family. If you two don’t have a meaningful relationship, everything else suffers.
3. We must spend time connecting as a Man and a Woman (not just as Mom & Dad and Husband & Wife).
4. In order, our priorities should always be Marriage, Kids, Job, Family & Friends, etc.
5. You will never just find the time. You must make the time. Get your calendars out and commit the time!

6. Follow the ground rules for alone time to build your relationship:

a. Be present
b. Be flexible
c. Take turns choosing what to do.
d. Have a good attitude.
e. Be positive.

7. Planning your activities insures success
a. Have a clear objective. Remember that the primary objective is to connect. Keep in mind that laughing and having a good time is just as connecting as discussing your deep, innermost thoughts and feelings.
b. Choose the right location. This is any place where you can let your guard down and have a conversation.
c. Agree on the budget. Don’t let this get in the way. Alone time doesn’t have to cost any money.

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