Partnered relaxation rituals
May 14, 2018 11:13 AM   Subscribe

My husband and I enjoy watching TV in the evenings to unwind, usually while we eat dinner. But TV is a time-suck and not how I really want to be spending my time right now (as much as I enjoy it!), so I'm interested in what kind of rituals others have for relaxing with partners on workday evenings. Difficulty level: toddler, and preferably something that takes around 15 minutes.

Open to a wide range of ideas, as long as they're an activity we do together. (TV feels like a "together" activity, but reading separately does not.) But since our son is asleep while this is ongoing, getting out of the house for a stroll or similar isn't possible.

Here is how our evenings usually go, plus parameters:
I put our son down and start making dinner.
Husband arrives home (he handles the mornings). He usually joins in to help if dinner prep is still ongoing.
Depending on the night, we either sit and talk while we eat, then watch TV, or we eat while watching TV.
We chat while all of this is going on, so we're definitely connecting, but usually most of the conversation is work-related, so neither of us really unwinds as we talk. We most often watch sitcoms, because we find laughing very relaxing, but also enjoy longer, transporting shows (GoT, Outlander, Star Trek, anything in a different time/place than the present).

After TV, husband cleans the kitchen while I work, tidy, and get ready for the next day. Then it's basically bedtime, or maybe we each crank out a little work-work.

We like boardgames a lot (and have many), but they are entirely weekend-fare--lots of pieces, take a couple hours to complete--and we live in a small apartment so we don't have space to just leave this out all the time. Husband plays guitar and I enjoy singing to accompany him. So maybe cards, or learning more songs? i'd appreciate your thoughts!
posted by CiaoMela to Human Relations (26 answers total) 62 users marked this as a favorite
My husband and I have this book and really like asking each other questions from it. Pretty sure there's a "Love and Sex" version out there as well.
posted by lovableiago at 11:19 AM on May 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

How about reading together? Take turns reading a chapter out loud to each other.
posted by Sassyfras at 11:21 AM on May 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

Play cards, do a jigsaw puzzle (keep it under a sheet of cardboard), play scrabble or boggle or some other game that you can either set aside or play a timed game.
posted by theora55 at 11:22 AM on May 14, 2018

Backgammon is perfectly timed for playing over dessert/tea.
posted by phunniemee at 11:23 AM on May 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

There's a bunch of yoga routines (video service, youtube, dvd, rent/buy streaming, app) that are simple 10-15-minute routines. It's actually kind of fun to do with just one friend-type person because honestly it's kind of funny, but you also get to relax together, improve your health a little bit, and if you have a toddler your spines could probably use the stretch.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:24 AM on May 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

Other possibilities:
- One side of a record (or a pre-defined playlist of appropriate length)
- Pattern based game like Set
posted by typecloud at 11:33 AM on May 14, 2018

my wife and i like doing crossword puzzles together. as a bonus, it's easy to do a little bit at a time.
posted by bassjump at 11:43 AM on May 14, 2018 [8 favorites]

I bought an old game of Trivial Pursuit at a charity shop, and we used to take turns quizzing each other, one card at a time. It was surprisingly relaxing!
posted by heavenknows at 11:46 AM on May 14, 2018

The Fluxx card games are fun and don't take much longer than a meal (we play them with our five-year-old over dinner most nights). If you're like me and enjoy complicated board games but not so much with the Parcheesi, Fluxx might be the game for you.

I'm also always on the search for video games (PC) that either have a local co-op mode or have short enough rounds that the mister and I can switch off playing and watching the other person play for a few minutes. (Right now we're playing a lot of Fortnite.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 11:49 AM on May 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

These days my wife and I have been listening to crime podcasts in chunks and discussing the case - we typically put the podcast on during cooking/cleanup and turn it off while we eat.
posted by notorious medium at 12:01 PM on May 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

The 36 Questions That Lead to Love. Obviously you're already married so there's love there, but a question a day might be a useful timesink for a month or two. :)
posted by WCityMike at 12:29 PM on May 14, 2018

take turns giving each other foot massages.
posted by katieanne at 12:52 PM on May 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

We used to play codewords until we got too good. Now we play a colour matching game on his phone, together. Oh, and he used to read me 'dog adverts' from some website, so anything funny that can be read out loud works.
posted by stillnocturnal at 2:06 PM on May 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

My wife and I met playing cards, so cards have been an ongoing theme in our relationship.

These days we've taken to playing Uno at the kitchen table. Away from the TV/Computers, we focus on each other, talk about the day, and play cards. We've laughed more playing cards lately than I can remember. Our kids (11 & 14) will occasionally play, too, but usually its something we do while relaxing or waiting to start dinner and the kids are doing their own thing.

Alternatively, pick up a Hoyle's guide to card games and a deck of cards and learn new games. We did that too (a long time ago), and had a great time playing "California Jack" (though the details of that game escape me now).
posted by China Grover at 2:10 PM on May 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

If a walk isn't possible, could you still get outside? If you have a front or back porch, you could make yourself some tea or [beverage of choice] and sit out on the porch for little bit. Just getting outdoors & observing the natural world for 15 minutes can be a relaxing mood-booster. Even better, your husband could bring his guitar out & you two could play/sing a song.

This post on "breadstick games" (aka, games short & undemanding enough to play before dinner) might give you some good ideas. Love Letter is my personal go-to for this kind of quick fun.
posted by ourobouros at 2:14 PM on May 14, 2018 [5 favorites]

It's probably too specific to be useful, but I and my spouse have had an embarrassing amount of fun playing the 1927 trivia book, Ask Me Another. (There are four volumes, in various editions. I suggest starting with either the 1927 Ask Me Another, or the Omnibus Edition which includes the second 1927 book.) It's our go-to, "we've got half an hour to kill and are too burned out to do something productive" evening activity. In the last decade, we've been through all four volumes five or six times.

I'm not sure it's materially all that different from television, but it leaves more openings for interesting conversations. And the remove of time keeps any real competition or wounded pride from getting in the way.
posted by eotvos at 2:57 PM on May 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

Mani/pedis. Much improved if you get one of those home paraffin spas to dip your hands and feet in. So soothing and makes your hands and feet smooth. Fun to pull off once it cools, much better with a partner.
posted by donnagirl at 3:39 PM on May 14, 2018

posted by k8t at 4:21 PM on May 14, 2018

We've been enjoying Codenames Duet lately - it's a cooperative word game for two, and you can make it harder or easier depending what you're in the mood for.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:48 PM on May 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

Another vote for the couple questions! Me and my partner actually just found a bunch of questions online, printed them out and cut them up. We take turns pulling one or two and then both answer them. It feels connecting and we love it!
posted by fairlynearlyready at 4:54 PM on May 14, 2018

Obviously depends on your lives and local laws, but unwinding with good music and a nicely-rolled joint works well for us.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 5:33 PM on May 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

Code Names Duet!

Super fun game and each round takes ~10-15 mins.

Damn, Lobstermittens beat me.
posted by namesarehard at 9:39 PM on May 14, 2018

Cook tomorrow’s meal together? Or have him serenade you while you sing and chop? Bananagrams. Snuggle and work an easy crossword. May sound silly, but sitting together, laptops in laps, you could do nightly Duolingo lessons together.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 11:53 PM on May 14, 2018

Fantastic ideas, everyone! I think we'll take a spin through each of these. Seems like we have enough idea here to get us through a few years!
posted by CiaoMela at 6:31 AM on May 15, 2018

Sex? Oh, if you mean while eating then i say you each take turns searching for something in Youtube and watching the videos. I like looking for really old music videos that popped in my head. My fiance likes looking at auto reviews.
posted by WeekendJen at 7:52 AM on May 16, 2018

Read aloud! My partner and I are working our way through Pynchon's Mason & Dixon, which actually reads aloud beautifully. Depending on the evening, it inspires conversation or it puts the listener to sleep, but regardless, we can snuggle while we do it and it feels good.
posted by linettasky at 8:18 PM on May 21, 2018

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