Bring spring to your marriage

It’s officially spring — a season for growth and renewal. If you’ve been feeling a bit of cabin fever when it comes to your marriage, now’s a great time to shake things up. Here are five ways to reconnect with your partner.

Conversation starters

When was the last time you learned something new about your spouse’s thoughts, beliefs, or experiences? If you’ve been in a conversational rut lately, it might be time to experiment with some ways to open up again. Here are some resources for jump-starting interesting discussions:

The Book of Fabulous Questions: Great Conversation Starters about Love, Sex and Other Personal Stuff by Penelope Frohart is nicely sorted and organized. It’s also a nice size to bring along on longer car trips or for a walk in the park.

If…, Volume 1: (Questions for the Game of Life) by James Saywell — ranging from the serious to the ridiculous, these hypothetical questions can really give you some new appreciation or insight for your partner — and even invite your own self-exploration.

Things Party Board Game — although you’ll need to invite some friends over to play this game, it still gives a lighthearted look into your spouse’s mind. The game presents players with provocative topics, such as “THINGS… you shouldn’t say to your doctor”, or “THINGS… that could get you arrested”, and allows each player to write down whatever comes to mind. Then, after each answer is read aloud, players take turns guessing who wrote down each response.

Return to your beginnings

What was the movie you saw on your first date? Is there a restaurant that’s special to you? What about that long walk together when you first said “I love you?” It might be time to arrange for a trip down memory lane. (Remember that A&W commercial where the husband arranges for the manager to bring the burgers out to the car?) It might be as simple as renting a DVD and settling down to enjoy an old film, or as elaborate as revisiting a honeymoon spot, but consider taking your spouse back to a shared moment. Sometimes that’s all it takes to reignite the spark that brought you together.

If your leisure’s become work, find new leisure

Sometimes the things that we depend on to relax us — a cottage, a family holiday, a whirlwind tour of Europe — can become stressful to maintain or to plan. And leisure activities like quilting groups or church volunteer work can also become just one more commitment on the calendar. Scale back a little and find something simple to do together to enjoy each other’s company in a truly relaxing way. Some simple pleasures include:

– Order dinner in and eat on the patio or on the floor.

– Get massages together.

– Explore a local park, trail, or neighbourhood for an afternoon — with no set destination or agenda in mind.

– Despite high gas prices, an afternoon drive out of your area and coffee in a town you haven’t explored can be a great investment in time together.

– Take an afternoon off work together mid-week — sometimes the sense of “getting away with” a day off can lead to sparks.

Start a project together

If raising a family’s been your major project for years, the “empty nest” malaise in a relationship can come as something of a shock. Spouses can easily drift into separate activities, and over time this can lead to a feeling of living separate lives.

One way to bring new energy into your relationship is to find something new to do together. Learning a new sport — or getting back into an old one — can create a great routine for togetherness, as can tackling a hobby or even renovating one’s home (although be careful of that last – renovations can also stress you out!) Other ideas include fixing up old antiques together, learning a language, taking an art or cooking class, doing genealogical research, or even getting a puppy. Part of the fun is deciding what to learn together.

Laugh together

Sometimes laughter really is the best medicine. Look for a chance to be lighthearted in each other’s company — book an evening at a comedy club, visit an open-air music or arts festival, rent some old favourites, or head out to the zoo to enjoy some animal antics. Save some funny stories for the dinner table. Or head out to an amusement park. Whatever gets your smile going is something valuable to share — and may put that bounce back in both you and your spouse’s step.