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February 17, 2010 6:19 PM   Subscribe

What do you and your SO do to bond with each other?

We're looking for preferably inexpensive things. Obviously we know about eating out and going to movies, so things other than that would be appreciated. We're looking for stuff we might enjoy but haven't thought of yet.

We like to do creative things, so maybe things along that line would be great. If it matters, we are a boy and a girl.

posted by elder18 to Human Relations (68 answers total) 318 users marked this as a favorite
Read the same books and talk about them.
posted by three blind mice at 6:22 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

read books TO each other and talk about them!
posted by heyforfour at 6:25 PM on February 17, 2010 [13 favorites]

We paint stray pieces of cardboard or those cheesey unfinished wood things you can get at a craft store.

We go for long walks when it is sunny.

We cook ridiculously complex dinners that require every dish in the kitchen. And then fight about who has to clean up.

We eat croissants in bed on weekend mornings.

Basically, we enjoy the hell out of spending our free time together. Even a grocery trip can be fun. I bet there are already things you are doing that could be bonding experiences if you let yourselves enjoy the time!
posted by ohio at 6:26 PM on February 17, 2010 [10 favorites]

We took up tennis recently. We go and play at the free courts. It's mostly just us hitting the ball back and forth. Or laughing because we messed up... But it's fun and if you don't get too competitive you will really love it. Plus it's not too expensive if you get used rackets and buy your balls at the cheap places.
posted by aburd at 6:27 PM on February 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

1. Go to a bookstore and hit the cookbook section. Choose a delicious looking recipe together and copy it down.
2. Go to your local market/store and shop for the ingredients.
3. Go home and attempt to cook the new recipe together, with lots of wine drinking in the process.
4. Eat delicious meal that you've chosen, shopped for, and cooked together!
posted by meerkatty at 6:28 PM on February 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

We go to a certain restaurant and play trivia together. It's perfect for us since we're working together as a team in a competitive activity that doesn't involve us having to run or throw something.
posted by hollygoheavy at 6:32 PM on February 17, 2010

We have a lot of sex. Seriously.

and like three blind mice, we read the same books and talk about them. We tend to get on a kick about something and read a few books/watch movies all on the same topic. Like, Wolf Hall/A Man for all Seasons/Henry VIII (shakespeare) and then some movies of the same as an example of recent ones.
posted by gaspode at 6:33 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

He's teaching me chess. We like to go window shopping together, long walks in Central Park. We play Jeopardy every night. And um, sex. Yeah.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:37 PM on February 17, 2010

I think the key is to do things that you enjoy, preferably things that are even more enjoyable when done together. Some ideas to maybe get your creative juices flowing:

1. walk through interesting neighborhoods to look at the architecture,
2. take photographs together in the park,
3. window-shop in the types of stores you both like,
4. go for a drive in the country and rotate who decides which direction to turn at each intersection,
5. ride shopping carts at the grocery,
6. plant a garden,
7. visit weird little bars out in the country,
8. go to art fairs,
9. visit a petting zoo
posted by DrGail at 6:39 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

We take drives out into the country side to visit towns and places we've never seen.
posted by Atreides at 6:39 PM on February 17, 2010

We do ferociously difficult crosswords. the cryptic British style, like the ones in the Nation and the Guardian.
posted by KathrynT at 6:43 PM on February 17, 2010

we take an honest interest in the hobbies of the other. he doesn't care a whit about reality shows, but i am entertained by them. i dislike first person/third person shooters, but he unwinds with them. so - we actively listen when the other one talks about these things. in bioshock, not too far into the game, i questioned him following the narrators every action. he'll comment on the fashion choices of the project runway contestants. it seems simplistic, but both of those actions show that we aren't just "uh-huh"ing our way through the relationship.

there are a million other things - but this one seems to be very important to me. it's a way to communicate "i love every single thing about you because it is your brain that is working through them, even if i dislike the thing removed from you". feeling accepted, no matter what, is very bonding.
posted by nadawi at 6:44 PM on February 17, 2010 [24 favorites]

We don't live too near each other so we have a standing date to chat and play scrabble online every night we'renot together basically as last-thing-before bed. We do not keep a running score.

We go for walks in the woods and play "hey look at this neat rock I found!"

We lay around in a sunny room and listen to music together.

We play 20 questions.

We take long baths.

We sit on the same side of the table at restaurants so we can hold hands.

Whenever we're together we take photos of ourselves together.

Whenever we're apart we send each other email remembering things we enjoyed special about the last time we were together.

We send very boring email back and forth telling each other what we're wearing and what we've been eating.

We track our romantic escapades on bedposted because we are nerds and it's amusing to quibble about how to tag your sex life.
posted by jessamyn at 6:45 PM on February 17, 2010 [20 favorites]

We are slowly making our way through an old tv series, watching a half an episode or an episode per night before bed (hooray netflix), complete with cuddling and, importantly, lots of running commentary.
posted by brainmouse at 6:47 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Do the stuff you're already doing, just frame it differently.

Going out for dinner? Dress up.
Lounging by the pool/jacuzzi? Do it at night. Are you alone? Skinny dip.
You like wandering museums? Go on an outdoors hike.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:47 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Creative things is a treasure trove of shit that is more fun +1..

Some ideas: diy-screenprint t shirts, paste up magazine, collaborate on a comic (one writes, one draws, or take turns), self-publish all your favorite recipes, make some ugly collages as gag gifts for your friends, two words: DREAM BOARD, make magnets with the little clear pebbles meant for holding up flower arrangements, finger puppets.

You will need: gorilla glue, maybe some ink, random household detritus, old magazines, and fabric scraps. Pretty much everything else is gravy.
posted by shownomercy at 6:49 PM on February 17, 2010

Make mix-tapes for each other. Play board games together (doesn't have to be competitive - Pandemic is a great cooperative one). Develop in-jokes.
posted by Paragon at 6:49 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Go hear a lot of music. She buys classical tickets (symphony, opera, chamber) and I buy rock and folk tickets. We both enjoy both types.
posted by Danf at 6:52 PM on February 17, 2010

We bond by eating dinner together, every night. We sit by the fire and talk after our kid has gone to bed. If we have babysitting, we'll go for a hike by ourselves instead of packing our kid. At this point in our lives it is not about exciting places or things, but the consistency of being together every day and talking to each other every day. We are busy doing other things all the time so having a very simple way to connect and bond on a daily basis is important.
posted by crazycanuck at 6:57 PM on February 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

Scrabble is both romantic and ferociously competitive.
posted by so much modern time at 6:58 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

We write shitty monster-movie scripts together.
We geek out over our cat.
We find odd, hole in the wall bars and restaurants around town and try them out.
Also, we make up stories as we fall asleep, and then we continue the stories the next night, and the next, etc.
posted by Kloryne at 6:58 PM on February 17, 2010 [5 favorites]

We teach each other languages. We've gotten my gf to an intermediate-level in Latin (which I teach), and we're reading Suetonius now, so we're now starting Russian (which she knows and I don't). Obviously, this won't appeal if you don't like languages, but the general principle is the learning together. Nothing like tackling a fun project together for bonding!
posted by lysimache at 7:00 PM on February 17, 2010 [4 favorites]

We've been enjoying child-ish things more lately and that's been really fun, easy, cheap and passive. We don't notice we're getting closer until afterwards.

For example -
I watch him do yo-yo tricks. Occassionally I try to do them myself - I'm terrible.
He got some nice paddles and ping pong balls and we play that at our gym which has a table.
We go to bars that have pinball machines.
Going to nice dog parks with the dogs and throwing the frisbee until the border collie is exhausted.
Take a bat and ball to the park and try to hit it.
Fly a kite.

Generally things we got into when we were children. It's sort of liberating from adult responsibility.
A more pricey but similar thing was when we were on a work trip in Florida we went to watch a shuttle launch which was awesome. I want to plan a small vacation together around another shuttle launch. We try to learn neat things about space and tell each other. It feels child-like as well. Like we're little space dork kids studying for space camp.
posted by dog food sugar at 7:01 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

We play Zach & Wiki - the rule is one can't play without the other.
He's taken up cycling (my passion) and I've taken up windsurfing (his passion).
We walk around our neighbourhood and city looking at architecture (good or otherwise).
posted by WayOutWest at 7:01 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Reading doesn't work for us, because we like different sorts of leisure reading and I read much more often & more quickly. Games don't work except as an occasional thing, as Mr. Tigerbelly is surprisingly competitive.

We go on looong meandering walks, sometimes with some sort of destination in mind, most of the time not. We live in NYC, and have seen an incredible amount of the city this way over the years.

Likewise, in the warmer months, we ride our bikes a fair bit -- with the same aimless sort of attitude, just heading in a general direction and poking around. Not only is it fun, relaxed quality time together at the time, but the random things we discover always turn up again in conversation months later, and become a great shared memory.

We watch sports together, and have a shared fandom of the sports we enjoy & our chosen teams/athletes. We attend events together (not cheap in some cases, very cheap for fun minor league excursions in your chosen sport), watch events on TV together, & talk about developments in the sport. In fairness, I picked up all of my interest in sports from Mr. Tigerbelly, entirely because in the first flushes of luuuuurve those many years ago, I wanted to learn to enjoy this thing he clearly enjoyed. It's been one of the most fun things I ever did, and I really value both having more fun stuff to enjoy and an easy conversation point with people I don't know that well & wouldn't otherwise have much in common with.

We are both very interested in music and lucky enough to have relatively similar taste. We attend a LOT of cheap shows (I always say when people express surprise that this is what we do instead of going to the movies, which we basically never do) and are constantly introducing each other to new bands that one of us has heard about through one venue or another. Again, quality time, discoveries, shared experience, good memories, and a constantly evolving topic to discuss.

We travel as much as we can, although that isn't on the cheaper side of "bonding experiences." But again, even little trips to somewhere new are exciting -- taking a train out of town for a weekend to see a band in another city, renting a car for a quick camping trip, taking the commuter rail to some other town to wander around for an afternoon.

The key, I think, is that most of our private time is spent having very small adventures together & discovering things. There's been a lot of research on how tiny jolts of "newness" and excitement -- even things as simple as trying a new restaurant & such -- affect relationships positively, and my experience bears that out. It feels as if we are building a little history all our own, full of shared memories, and that as we discover new things, we are almost always discovering them together.
posted by tigerbelly at 7:05 PM on February 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

Building/carpentry projects - especially shelves and deck furniture! You can remember building it together every time you use it.
posted by amtho at 7:06 PM on February 17, 2010

I'll echo the "lots of sex" suggestion, as well as the ideas of reading some of the same books (not necessarily at the same time, but enough so that you can catch the same references and make comparisons to each other that make sense) and going on the kind of walks where you talk about funny random stuff.

Daily rituals are really nice. Don't forget to give a nice goodbye kiss in the morning; knowing who makes the coffee on Saturday morning (or whatever you enjoy on a weekend morning) is really nice.

(Jessamyn: I just looked at the bedposted site, and I can't tell if it is serious or a joke, or both. Am I adding irony where it wasn't intended, or am I missing the obviousness of its seriousness?)
posted by Forktine at 7:06 PM on February 17, 2010

We ride bikes together.
We run together, or at least warm up together.
We take neighborhood walks and point out things that we like about houses/trees/plants/etc. and in the process build a mental image of the house we'd like to own one day.
We are watching the MASH series together (up to season 7).
We cook together.
At our old place we built kitty ramps on our walls and took turns seeing who could coach our cat through the course the fastest (me).
On a long car trip we made up a trash romance novel complete with names and book cover ideas.
We bought a dart board that we put up in the kitchen with the dream that we'd become awesome dart players (it's hard).
posted by collocation at 7:15 PM on February 17, 2010

Whoever comes home first greets whoever comes home second with an exuberant dance and ridiculous song that make up off the top of our heads as we're singing it. Getting a splendiferous "welcome home!" every time is really a wonderful thing to do. I highly recommend it.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 7:20 PM on February 17, 2010 [22 favorites]

laughing games! for example, we name obscure animals and then draw them as fast as we can without looking, and then compare.

this also works with making faces like an animal. for example, a goose face. try it.
now try to make a porcupine face.
now, an aardvark.
posted by changeling at 7:37 PM on February 17, 2010 [10 favorites]

We do the crossword together most nights. Except Saturday, because Saturday puzzles still make us feel dumb.

We cook new recipes together, about one a week.

We go to bed with each other every night, at least for a little bit- even if it means one person hops out a 1/2 hour later to go putter around for a bit, if we're working different schedules.

We forward each other interesting news articles and links and talk about them later.

We deliberately and explicitly tell each other when we are having a good time with each other. Even though we live with each other and it is easy to forget to thank the other for a particularly nice morning/weekend/???.

We learn new skills together. This winter, we are going ice skating on a nearby lagoon a lot and bringing sticks/a puck we picked up used and calling it hockey, even though we stink and I only have figure skates.

We run, kayak, hike and go to the gym together, because we are both better about being active when someone else asks us nicely to go. When we're apart, we e-mail each other what we did, awarding ourselves points for various feats of strength, agility, and motivation- or other things more outlandish. Highest total* wins.

*of moose seen per mile of your run, at least if I'm in Anchorage and he's in NYC
posted by charmedimsure at 7:37 PM on February 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

We eat dinner together every day. We do most of our cooking together.

We play the same video games. If they're single player, we play them separately and talk about what happened. If they're multiplayer, we play together.

We play board/card games.

We watch movies and entire TV series at home together and discuss them. Just commentary on what happened or clarification of plot threads, things like that.

We do all of our errands together, to the extent we can. Grocery shopping, running to the bank, picking up take-out, whatever it is we do it together and just enjoy being with each other while we do it.

We each make an effort to notice each other's interests; we are quite similar, but we definitely do not share every interest. This covers lots of little things. Recent examples: I give him full attention while he tells me about his friend setting up an online D&D server and their plans for a game, then send him links to some D&D wikis I found. He'll sit through Olympic figure skating, looking over occasionally to make a comment about some skater's jumps or fall, and he recorded some of the events I would have missed because class overlaps with the coverage.

We talk a lot. Every day. About anything. But even when we aren't talking and are just sitting here doing our own thing (me: web surfing; him: Mass Effect), we still reach over and touch each other once in a while. Hold hands for a minute, caress a shoulder, whatever... just a little physical reminder that we're thinking of each other.

And yeah, lots of sex and cuddling.

Long story short, we just enjoy the hell out of each other and make lots of little efforts to show love.
posted by asciident at 7:39 PM on February 17, 2010 [5 favorites]

wow some of your relationships sound fantastic.

-we took a massage class together and sometimes practice (i can't think of anything more bonding or inexpensive)

-we do free online personality tests and compare the results to our perceptions of each other!
posted by gillianr at 7:53 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

We eat dinner together when we're both home; we watch a few current shows together (Lost, V, 30 Rock); we get absorbed in old TV series together (Babylon 5, The West Wing, past seasons of The Simpsons, Dead Like Me) via Netflix/Hulu/etc. (he tends to skip ahead without me, but usually fills me in on what I missed—since he's a good storyteller, this is usually pretty entertaining); we go grocery shopping together (actually really pleasant to do, even if it sounds boring); we ask each other about our days and fill each other in; we read (separately) in bed together; we go to the gym together (when we both have the time/inclination); we laugh and rant about people/work/the state of the world together; we go out to dinner and/or the bars with friends; we go out to occasional performances by bands we're both into; we try new restaurants every so often; when it's warm, we go for walks around our neighborhood; we play (separately mostly, though occasionally together) Diablo II, and talk about our characters' progress; we go to ballgames together and with friends/family in warmer months; we go to family dinners together and almost always go off to play with the kids before/after, rather than gossip with the adults.
posted by limeonaire at 8:08 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

We have frequent, in-depth conversations about our work.

I like hearing how her day went, and we're in similar positions in similar industries (plus she's taking a related course right now), so it's neat sharing hopes, problems, experiences, and techniques.

We do this in other areas - like finance and nutrition - and something about the learning together/problem-solving/building-for-the-future combo tends to work well.

I also recommend the elaborate welcome-home. We've been doing a sprint-to-the-door greeting lately, which always seems to make her smile, and it feels great when I get her, running to me, right when I get home.
posted by asuprenant at 8:09 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

We do jigsaw puzzles, eat together every night, laugh at ourselves and each other - we discuss at length who is more crazy, we play with the cats and we pick a tv series and watch it from beginning to end. But my favourite is getting tucked in every night (I go to bed several hours before he does). Sometimes it's just relaxing quiet time together, sometimes we laugh so hard we can't breath, and sometimes we have heavy conversations.
posted by sadtomato at 8:21 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

My SO and I share a lot of juvenile and stupid jokes, which often involve sound effects. Recently we found out what antique car horns sound like, and have started groping one another and making the sounds (this is not a great game for public places). (A lot of them sound like farts, for added hilarity!)

We also both like awful puns, and when we are travelling somewhere or just wandering around town and see the name of a city or establishment that sounds promising, we will come up with an extensive list of crude puns about it. E.g. a Stella Artois sign outside a bar might be remarked on as "more like Smella Artois", or "Stella Fartois", or "Smella Fartois". This is also a good game to play when we are frustrated with school or work and the names of the people we're reading are open to insulting puns. ("John McDowell? More like John McFoul.")

Browsing bookstores is another favourite bonding activity: even if we don't find anything we want, or can't afford to buy books that day, it is awesome to look for cool things and point them out to each other. He usually finds excellent things that I have overlooked and vice versa.
posted by bewilderbeast at 8:28 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Art openings are free and generally have booze, if you're in to that. Ample conversation fodder whether the art is good or bad.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 8:39 PM on February 17, 2010

relax, talk philosophy, play with cats
posted by ovvl at 8:40 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

smoke, aesthetics, strings & lasers
posted by ovvl at 8:42 PM on February 17, 2010

We make up impromptu rock opera style songs about our pets and neighborhood. We go to thrift stores, garage sales, estate sales and look for weird and useful items. Afterwards, we sometimes make up funny stories about people we encounter at these places. We experiment a lot with cooking and got really into making and canning our own pickles, salsa, hot sauces and jam last year. We also try making stuff like sushi and homemade cheese. We play aggressively competitive scrabble. We are working our way through the complete Collector's DVD set of Twilight Zone episodes.
posted by pluckysparrow at 9:40 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

We eat expensive cheese.

Unlink wine, booze, and tobacco, very expensive cheese is still not that expensive in the grand scheme of things.
posted by ged at 9:57 PM on February 17, 2010 [6 favorites]

As a sadly single male, I must mention that this thread has made me weep for all of the love that I have missed. Bless you all.
posted by SPrintF at 10:12 PM on February 17, 2010 [9 favorites]

We do a lot of crosswords together--difficult ones we couldn't do on our own. Or we play trivial pursuit, word games...
And yeah, reading the same book/reading aloud to each other is great for bonding. On Sundays, sometimes I read the paper aloud while she cooks (or, less often, I cook...).
posted by prior at 11:05 PM on February 17, 2010

Sing songs to each other. Watch good (and bad) tv shows - we're really into Jersey Shore right now.

And we just discovered reading to each other. This is good because we have different tastes in reading material generally, and reading to each other gets us to share the experience and find a middle ground. Plus, being read to? By your partner? Awesome.

We like magazine articles by William Langewiesche for some reason.
posted by awenner at 11:11 PM on February 17, 2010

Read books TO each other **in bed** and talk about them!

Learn to dance together, salsa classes etc. If movement and grace are your thing(s), dance is a wonderful way to bond. ..... I wish I I had discovered dance before my ex became my ex...

Give each other a kiss before you drive anywhere, before you get out of bed, before...anything. (This is so that if there's a crash, the world ends, a satellite lands on your bed, at least you've given each other a kiss!

I'm a massage therapist, so +1 for that; then again, occasionally you'll find someone who HATES being massaged. Like my ex :S
posted by flutable at 11:55 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Urban explorations baby. We go urban-explorin'.

In the last couple of months, we have explored abandoned railroad tracks, found a Romanian ex-pat selling authentic Transylvanian food in a Singaporean hawker centre, found the long lost double-cousin of a London second-hand bookstore in KL, went to a temple in Penang where they worship Guan Yin with flowers and aarti like an Indian goddess, went to a house that doubles as a huge big-ass bird's nest to grow, well, bird's nests, and... yeah. We hang out a lot, is what I'm sayin'.

And oh, we translate each other classical poetry in each other's mother-tongues.
posted by the cydonian at 3:23 AM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

We play MMORPGs together, literally and virtually--sitting side by side at the computer desk, playing together in the game, if you're into that. I have never been a gamer and got bored or frustrated by most video games, but he's a good teacher so this has been really fun for us.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:16 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

One New Year's Eve, after we'd been together for a decade, we decided to put a bit more bounce into our relationship that had gotten a bit silted up with hanging round on the sofa, watching tv, or doing chores at home. So we declared Thursday night to be Date Night.

The rules:
- Every Thursday, alternatingly, one of us takes the other person out on a date.
- If it's your turn, you can choose anything you want, even things the other person might not think they like (but you hope they will like them. Obviously, don't choose stuff they actively hate.)
- If you are being invited, you don't complain if it's a dud, but see it as a new experience that your love wants to share with you

We did some pretty awesome things that way, like having beer in a jazz den, or listening to a Turkish storyteller. But also just finding new restaurants or seeing a movie.

It worked really well for a while because we both tend to be "nah, let's stay at home, I don't know if I'll like it" types.
posted by Omnomnom at 7:25 AM on February 18, 2010 [10 favorites]

In addition to all the fun things listed here, there's the not-fun but bonding experience of buying something expensive together. Maybe a fun expensive thing, like a holiday, but maybe a dull expensive thing.
posted by eccnineten at 7:37 AM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Second all the spending fun time together. Also second the sex. All very good. All very necessary.

Other things to try:
Be poor together. Try to figure out how to eat for two weeks on a large bag of potatoes and some cubes of beef boullion. Scrimp and save.
Scour the house for change from your floor and furniture so you can walk down to the store and get a coupla ice creams.
Be stubborn. The next time it all takes a horrible angry turn and (s)he's an arsehole and you don't need to stay around and take this. Stay anyway and work it out. Even if (s)he's an arsehole for months at a time. Stay.
Sit up all night with your sick toddler, one of you in the bathtub with her trying like hell to reduce her 104 fever and the other desperately trying to get the doctor's answering service while cleaning up various bodily fluids. Then argue about who has the most important meetings at work the next day and cannot stay home with her.
Go camping, get rained out all weekend, and suffer a flat tire on the way to the motel for the last night of your trip.
One of you get laid off from your job for six months or so.
Cheer your kid from the sidelines of a sport that your child is just terrible at. Both of you. For the whole season.
Adopt a kid with special needs and fight with the bureaucracy and the school district to get him the services he needs.
Do the dishes together, do laundry together, clean the garage together, do yardwork together.

You get the idea. You absolutely need special together time. But the most bonding happens when you bear the slings and arrows of life together and honor the mundane, unglamorous details of your shared dailiness. It's the kind you look back on and laugh at. It's also what lets you confront some big obstacle together, knowing you've come through a lot worse.

Just don't try to wallpaper a room together. That's super advanced stuff.
posted by cross_impact at 8:04 AM on February 18, 2010 [13 favorites]

We have four kids. That said, we mostly end up working side-by-side when we are together: raking, say, or folding laundry (endless laundry!), or working in the garden.

Eating ice cream is good year-round: in the summer we go to a local place with outside tables, but just this Tuesday night we had all the kids in the van and went to get ice cream cones at Friendly's. (Ate them parked in the lot as the windo blew and the snow fell: awesome!)

When we were newly maried we played cribbage and cooked pizza and watched movies.

As cross_impact alludes to, it's the you've-got-my-back, day-to-day stuff that builds the bonds. And once kids are around, life is often a whole family event (like our annual August Summer Games of croquet & badminton, with medals!). When it's just the two of you, then... wait, when did *that* last happen to me...?
posted by wenestvedt at 11:43 AM on February 18, 2010

Bocce ball games with gin & tonics in the summer.
A long walk, occasionally.
We've just gotten on board with this whole reading-to-each-other-in-bed thing. It's great.
Co-op (and occasionally competitive) xbox games.
Working through a series through netflix.
Dinner or beer brewing parties with friends.
Skiing/snowboarding once a weekend or so.
Road trips to the mountains.
The fantastic after-work drink-and-catch-up time.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:11 PM on February 18, 2010

You may get some more good ideas in this thread. Not the same question, but there's lots of overlap. I'll repeat my comment from there which also seconds some upthread: teach each other the languages you know, go for walks around your neighborhood, certain kinds of games (NYT Crosswords for the DS is excellent, so's Zookeeper, New Super Mario Bro. Wii, The Adventures of Cookie and Cream, Zack and Wiki, potentially Super Mario Galaxy if one person likes to watch more than be super active in playing, maybe Cooking Mama, Uno, Spit, Carcassone, Super Scrabble, Catan with the 2-player mod), reading aloud to each other in bed, embarking on a deliberate screening of something (whether going through French New Wave or just seeing what all the fuss is about re: 30 Rock, whatever) and discussing your reaction together. Day trips for a change of pace and scenery, hole in the walls (YES), local free or low-cost fairs and festivals, free day at the zoo or museums, volunteer...

Eating dinner together purposefully is huge for us, but admittedly that comes from upbringing. I do love it though. If only one of you likes to cook and you have the right kitchen layout set up for it (eat-in or connected breakfast nook you can peer into easily), it's also surprisingly tender subtle bonding to have the one partner cook while the other sits at the table and reads or studies or does work or whatever, and just sort of do your own thing but keep each other in the line of vision and occasionally chatter and keep each other non-pressure company. My husband's back in school for a job-related grad degree and he does his schoolwork while I zip around the kitchen and we joke and swap accounts of each other's days. I treasure those moments so much right now. They're not intense or seemingly deep or intimate but it's in those light every day moments with no perceived gravity that we are most ourselves.
posted by ifjuly at 12:11 PM on February 18, 2010 [5 favorites]

This is such a lovely thread!
posted by mokeydraws at 12:26 PM on February 18, 2010

Best answer: This is kind of different from other answers, but one thing that has really bonded my husband and I is compromise. When he really wants me to do something with him that I'm not necessarily interested in but do it anyway because I know it makes him happy (see: football, going out in the cold & snow with the dog, etc) and vice versa it really does bring us together because it demonstrates our love for each other and desire for each other's happiness.
posted by Kimberly at 2:16 PM on February 18, 2010 [4 favorites]

We watch Legend of the Seeker together. I don't think I could be with a woman who doesn't watch LotS with me.
posted by Think_Long at 5:10 PM on February 18, 2010

As a result of this thread, SadTomato and I are going to take swordfighting here. I encourage any Vancouver mefites to join us and discover the consequences of making SadTomato any moreso.
posted by fatbird at 6:21 PM on February 18, 2010

Now that the kids are old enough to be reliable at home without supervision, we go for evening walks almost every night. Arm in arm we stroll the neighborhood, looking at the houses, and through the windows. We look at gardens and trees. We talk about our days, our plans, our needs, the children, birds, and words. We make jokes and pat the local cats. It is calm, healthy, and good for our connection. It means no phones, computers, TV or music. Just each other.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 6:21 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

We remind each other that everything is a date.

Our cars parked in the garage together are on a date.

We hold hands picking up our medications together at the grocery store and stare longingly at each other, even when we feel like hell, because we're on a sick-date.

When we hang up our coats on the same rack, they're on a date.

We make a point of making the most mundane, non-romantic things into dates. It's all about your attitude and being grateful for each other. Grand "dates" are wonderful on occasion, but playing your favorite songs for the other person and vice versa is free and just as romantic as an expensive dinner.

Rub each other's feet. Look at each other's baby pictures.

When one of you walks in the door after a bad day, hug each other and slow dance for a moment. I promise you, it'll instantly change the atmosphere for the better. You don't even need music.

Smell your lover's neck and leave little kisses when you hug hello and goodbye.

Scrub each other's backs in the shower. Wash her hair as she leans back into you in the bathtub; there is NOTHING more romantic than having a man wash your hair while you're naked together.

Spend entire days in bed without answering the phone, checking the Internet or getting dressed. Play. Cuddle. Maintain eye contact the entire time you're having sex -- this will raise your intimacy to a different level, provided you're in a position to do so ;)

If any of this stuff doesn't sound like something you're into, the real takeaway is this: having a romantic go-to signal of some kind -- whether it's texting each other "<3>
Bonding when you're in love is like learning a language that only the two of you can speak to each other. The only way to become fluent is with time, practice and sincerity.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 6:54 PM on February 18, 2010 [14 favorites]

Well, I borked that. I meant to text each other hearts or xoxo's or something during the day at random times, so yeah, opps.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 6:55 PM on February 18, 2010

I'm going to second cross_impact and say that all those mutually enjoyable things are good and necessary, but nothing bonds like overcoming shared adversity. Those times you both pulled together and overcame a bad situation will be the ones that you remember in years to come.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 7:39 PM on February 18, 2010

We discuss posts on MeFi and what we like about them and what we hate about them and what we posted in response and what we refrained from posting.
posted by DMelanogaster at 6:56 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

It's helpful that you're both creative--collaborations are great for bonding!

In the past we have enjoyed making polymer clay sculptures together, and a couple of times I scanned his drawings and made t-shirt transfers from them.

We also both like working on computers and have helped each other build our own systems.

Thanks for the inspiring topic. :)
posted by PeriDoe at 10:14 PM on February 19, 2010

We met playing World of Warcraft, and we used to play a lot together, but he doesn't play anymore. Sometimes he'll collect herbs for me while I'm doing something on the tv though, just to be nice.

Our apartment is relatively small and so the computer room is the tv room is the room with the treadmill, so we are almost always very near each other even if we are doing different things (he likes the videogames more, I like to read on the computer more), so we can share with each other as we encounter anything interesting.

We are both lazy so we challenge each other to get off our asses and get on the treadmill. In general we challenge each other to Do The Right Thing. It doesn't always work but it helps having someone to prod me when I am weak-willed. We tease each other mercilessly, but it's of a certain sort that is all about both of us laughing at ourselves and not at all about contempt.

We make jokes about earning Moral High Ground Points. (I got this from an askme thread but I am sorry I don't have the link - maybe someone else does?). We look for opportunities to do some nice small thing for each other. I get him a beer, he lets me use the microwave first when we come home at lunch.

We do little quizzes at We get a little better at the periodic table one over time, slowly. We touch each other and say "I love you" at random times. We talk about our days when we are in bed before going to sleep. We watch the Daily Show, the Colbert Report, and Bill Maher's show and talk about the issues of the day.

We make fun of the cat together, and also point out to each other when she is being especially cute. We take turns washing the forks (well, all the utensils - we don't dirty many dishes since we use paper plates and such).

We bond by going to the grocery store. Not quite what you think, maybe - we both despise going and put it off as long as humanly possible, and force the other person to go with us to experience the suffering together.

Overall we seem to have something going like the song John C Clarke. Just kind of ordinary contentment, but very very precious.
posted by marble at 10:35 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

We make jokes about earning Moral High Ground Points. (I got this from an askme thread but I am sorry I don't have the link - maybe someone else does?). We look for opportunities to do some nice small thing for each other. I get him a beer, he lets me use the microwave first when we come home at lunch.

I remember that post too! And for whatever it's worth, I completely agree with this, as well as the comments alluding to the same thing, compromise and kindness. Once you get the hang of it, being generous and kind with each other without a second thought--not just the big gestures but all the little everyday routine things too, like the microwave example, and going somewhere you normally wouldn't 'cause your partner's excited to--feels so good. Maybe this sounds naive (and definitely corny), like I should have learned this from relationships besides the one with my partner, but for me, it's been gentle but eye-opening, life-changing really. You learn to live in a state of grace, and it's not fancy or look-at-me like, just comfortable humming. Wonderful bonding.
posted by ifjuly at 10:44 AM on February 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Sunday brunch ritual of beer and fish and chips with a crossword puzzle.
posted by The Whelk at 11:22 AM on February 20, 2010

I guess this is bonding.

When we're bored. In line somewhere or in the car driving somewhere... we play 'Minister's Cat'. Which if you haven't played it goes like this:

I pick a letter... say 'S' and start:

The Minister's cat is a SEXY cat.

Then he might say:

The Minister's cat is a SMART cat.


Sassy cat, Stupid cat, Super cat, etc etc.

Then you move onto the other letters. It's a fun game that we have fun with and laugh about together.

Silly games like that ... yeah, I consider that bonding.
posted by mittenbex at 4:24 PM on September 9, 2010

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