What can we do together?
April 14, 2006 10:05 AM   Subscribe

What do you and your significant other like to do together?

I'm ashamed to say that, over time, my husband and I seem to have forgotten how to spend time together. Due to his constant work schedule (full-time office job plus owning/operating a very busy DJ company), he doesn't have a ton of time to dedicate to our "togetherness." Meanwhile, my pregnancy (11 weeks, just now starting to feel not-so-horrible all the time) has caused me to become quite the couch potato, spending hours a day watching TV and napping.

We've agreed we both want to spend more time together, but I feel like we've drifted so far apart in terms of interests that I don't even know where to begin. I don't even know that I *have* that many interests left, while his don't appeal to me in the least.

He's asked me what I want us to do together, and I know he'd at least try whatever I suggested, but I'm kind of stumped. It's like I've forgotten who I am (or who we are as a couple) and I don't know what to tell him. This is embarrassing because I look at other couples and hanging out seems to be so natural to them. This man honestly and truly is my best friend and the best person I know, yet I don't really know how to be around him anymore in a capacity that isn't eating a meal, doing chores, or fulfilling family obligations.

So...I'm looking for inspiration. What do you and your spouse/partner like to do in your free time? Bonus points for pursuits that aren't overly athletic (due to my condition) and don't require a huge monetary investment (though we do have some money to spend). Thanks in advance!
posted by justonegirl to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (36 answers total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
This may seem like a pretty basic/obvious suggestion, but you seem at a loss, so I'll throw it out there. My wife and I enjoy playing simple two-person games together. Uno, Yahtzee, Phase 10, Speed, and so on. When I think of playing two-person Uno it sounds kind of dull, but the mindlessness of the game occupies you just enough to fill any silences, and frees your mind for chatter, laughter, joking, and so on. There are a few AskMe threads about fun two-player games.

Our other favorite activity is hiking, but that sounds too active for you right now.
posted by agropyron at 10:18 AM on April 14, 2006

Well, biking (but that might be too strenuous right now) is something we enjoy a lot -- or even just going for walks. Getting outside and the change of scenery just seems to make conversation easier somehow.

Now that the weather is getting nicer, you could just have a picnic or spend time together sitting on a blanket in the grass. While you're there, you might play some board or card games -- one of our favorite things to do together. (Try boardgamegeek.com to find some great board/card games. It can be an intimidating interface, so feel free to email me if you want specific game suggestions. Email is in my profile.)

But also be aware that this happens. My wife and I go through periods of feeling very very close and periods where we feel out of sync. Sounds like you guys are on the same page working it out, which is great.
posted by papercake at 10:19 AM on April 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

Games are a great idea.

Start small.. don't just dive into something new that (in all likelihood) will have to be put on hold in ~29 weeks anyway. How about watching a movie together while he rubs your feet? Get him into the habit now; every pregnant woman I've ever known has said that a foot massage, especially towards the end, is a religious experience.

How about taking a parenting class of some sort together?* Depending on where you live, there's thousands of variations, some of which morph into including the baby once s/he's here. Maybe an Aquafit class. You get to work out together, stay in shape, see each other mostly nekkid and then run home to continue... exercising.

This is not to imply you're going to be bad parents. But it's something you can do together and may help prepare you in some ways for what's to come.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:22 AM on April 14, 2006

My favorite thing to do with my husband is to just walk. We live in a city - and on weekends we'll often just take a whole day and set out on foot. You may not feel like doing this now - but in about 3-4 weeks you are going to have more energy than you know what to do with. You'll want to be more active. (although at 7 months and change - I'm starting to slow down again - enjoy your second trimester).

Also - you say you aren't interested in things that interest him. Maybe give those things another shot? My husband is a massive soccer fan. I quickly realized that I could decide to go with him to watch matches and get into it all with him - or I could sit home and pout about how I wasn't really crazy about soccer. Going with him has been inordinately more fun.

I'd also suggest that while you are thinking about couples things to do - you start looking at cultivating your own life again. Take a class, doing something on your own. Especially if he is busy - you need to develop your own interests in things that you can bring back to the relationship.
posted by Wolfie at 10:24 AM on April 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

My SO and I spend a lot of our time "together", but rarely doing the same thing. She plays video games while I do work from home, or I'll read while she does scrap-booking. What I really like is that we're always talking about our days or whatever we happen to be doing while we're together. It's a very pleasant back-and-forth never-ending conversation that keeps us "together" without nessecarily having to share an activity.
posted by chudmonkey at 10:26 AM on April 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

I second agropyron on the two player games. My husband and I play German board games. look at boardgamegeek.com for games that might interest you.
we also used to read children’s books to each other. each night before bed one of us would read a chapter out loud. it is a very good way to start reconnecting even if it isn't a new hobby.
i have also found talking walk together is a very good couple activity. it gives us time to have the really deep conversations we used to have when we would stay up all night talking to each other. plus we get some exercise.
posted by kantgirl at 10:28 AM on April 14, 2006

My husband and I go hiking together, which might be too strenuous right now, but it doesn't have to be. If we arrive home at the same time we will go walk the dog together and catch up on our days, and that's a really nice way to connect. We're taking a class together as well, so I'd second or third that suggestion. How about reading a book together and discussing it, like your own private book group?
posted by ambrosia at 10:30 AM on April 14, 2006

Don't beat yourself up--its easy to slide into apathy in a secure relationship, but obviously, apathy isn't a pleasant place to be. I keep a text file on my desktop to remind me of fun things to suggest when my boyfriend and I find ourselves in the "What-do-you-want-to-do-I-don't-know-what-do-you-want-to-do" place.

Here's some from my list. I live in SF, but am originally from MD (hey homegirl!), but I think you could probably repurpose most of the suggestions below if you're anywhere near the Baltimore metro area.

- SFMOMA (or the BMA or AVAM or The Walters)
- dancing (we take swing dancing together now, which is probably not optimal for your preganacy, but if you're up to it, some kind of partner dancing could be fun)
- daytrips to nearby counties (I used to love driving up to Frederick to explore or down to Assateague for a day or two when I lived in Baltimore)
- shopping (I'm lucky, he loves to shop)
- thrift shopping
- farmer's markets
- local galleries and art openings
- live music shows (classical, indie rock, wherever your tastes lie)
- plays at independant theatres
- movie marathons (we pick a movie theme and rent a couple of dvds. Last month was Mel Brooks, which provided us with a whole raft of ridiculous quoteables)
- photo excursions (we're both photographers)
- author readings
- long walks in the park
- picnic
- bowling (hit the duckpins, hon!)
- host a brunch or cocktail hour for friends
- bbq in the back yard (which for us somehow becomes an all-day endeavor)
posted by missmobtown at 10:31 AM on April 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

Games are great, and if you are having kids, getting in the swing of games now will prepare you for many hours of Candyland and Hi Ho Cherry-o.

I just gave my wife a "Cooking for Couples" class for her birthday, and she seems pretty excited that we will be doing this together. It wasn't too expensive and it will be a different activity for us to share.
posted by genefinder at 10:33 AM on April 14, 2006

Bocce is a simple but surprisingly addictive outdoor game. The set of balls is not very expensive, then all you need is a reasonably level lawn.
posted by one at 10:36 AM on April 14, 2006

When I think of playing two-person Uno it sounds kind of dull, but the mindlessness of the game occupies you just enough to fill any silences, and frees your mind for chatter, laughter, joking, and so on.

This is almost exactly what I was going to say. It's not as inane a suggestion as it might appear.
posted by danb at 10:37 AM on April 14, 2006

Book club?
Getting involved in politics?
Random restaurant trolling?
Community theatre?
Walks along the beach?
Listening to new music?
Fun new sex stuff?

(glad to hear you are feeling better by the way, j.o.g..!)

Dinner/movie outings?
Appointment TV?
Bitching about work? (my other half and i keep tabs on what's going on respectively and genuinely take an interest)
Generally approaching the ordinary stuff with a more humorous attitude? This makes stuff more together-ey in general.
posted by By The Grace of God at 10:37 AM on April 14, 2006

what do we like to do together...

rent a movie - I like to choose some films that I would not ordinarily see. sometimes I take a chance on some compilations that I have not seen yet. sometimes we choose to see, over the course of a few weeks/months, the entire work of one director whose one film we liked, and now we want to see the rest of his work.

we love to ski and hike and now we are learning to backcountry ski (skins and ski crampons and the like)

some evenings we will go for a walk together - doesn't need to be far, we just take a fork in the road that we don't usually take, in my urban neighborhood or in his mountain neighborhood

often, we cook a meal together

on rainy weekends, we will go visit an art gallery or few. there are a few neighborhoods in vancouver (granville street, gastown) where there are many galleries side by side

we love to take road trips - in the next few days, I plan to throw a dart onto a map, and drive there

we are both photographerrs, so we take many photos together, and we incorporate this activity into a roadtrip or neighborhood walk

I like it when we read to one another (a book, a story, a poem, a newspaper article). In particular, I love to be read-to.
posted by seawallrunner at 10:38 AM on April 14, 2006

I'll 2nd an old-fashioned picnic. My wife and I did just than in the Park a couple days ago and it was just nice eating some good food, being out in nice weather, and seeing the kids, families, and adults pass by. It's nice because you won't have talk all the time -- just being outdoors and stuff is good.

Perhaps he can either buy/cook the desserts and you can do the main course or vice versa.

Could you get more involved in the DJing and that could help?

I would think the impending arriving of a baby is enough conversation for the both of you. My wife and I spend enough time talking about a baby that we are not even sure we are going to have yet.
posted by skepticallypleased at 10:41 AM on April 14, 2006

we like to...

*plan meals and cook them together
*walk around the city, go windowshopping
*see bands
*see off-beat exhibitions
*research weird topics and learn about them together (libraries! wikipedia! yay!)
*play card games (mainly truco - it's awesome if you can get hold of a deck of cards for it)
*play board games - especially backgammon
*have lots of sex - nothing like a middle of the weekend afternoon spent in bed!
*go to gardens or parks. take a picnic.
posted by gaspode at 10:47 AM on April 14, 2006

I'm with chudmonkey here -- we spend a lot of time together but a lot of that time is just "being" -- I'm futzing around online, he's doing the same, we'll talk about what we're futzing with/about . . . I watch some TV while he reads or vice versa. I hang out with him while he cooks, he hangs out with me while I cook. We grocery shop together. We go to trivia once a week with a group of friends, and we like the same sorts of movies and other geeky entertainments (comic books, magazines, etc). We also do far too much home improvement together -- if he would enjoy decorating the nursery, this might be a good bonding thing to do.

I know this sounds *really very dull* but we are very silly people, so even a trip to the grocery store can involve all sorts of stupid hijinks. I figure, hey, the mundane exists and we have to do it, so why not make it as fun as we can? It seems to work out.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:48 AM on April 14, 2006

Trips to the grocery store are GREAT! Go with the plan to buy at least three things you've never tried before. Plan meals. Get yummy things you really look forward to eating. (one of the best parts of being a grown-up IMO)
posted by By The Grace of God at 10:55 AM on April 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

This may sound horrible (especailly to people like me that hate to be a couch potato but... )

Watch a show together. Not on Network TV but on DVD. Lost, Six feet under, the Sopranos. Something you never got to watch but people loved it. Start from season One. When we get a chance to sit down and relax the last thing we wanna do is watch another "Extreme Home Makeover". But we enjoy watching a DVD or show that we Tivoed (or recorded on my DVR).

We eat Breyers Vanilla Ice cream and strawberry sauce and watch a couple episodes in each others arms.

Find something you both love to eat-- get in PJ's and get a blacket and wrap up.

It's nothing mind blowing but a super easy way to spend a little time close and have something to chat about afterwards.

If you like movies instead you could also get netflix and each put movies in the queue.
posted by beccaj at 10:57 AM on April 14, 2006

Cooking together. Even if there's not really that much work to do, you can talk at the same time. We've recently found that it is a lot of fun to play badminton together even though our skill levels are very different. I will add backgammon to agropyron's list of simple 2-person games - it is a fun way to kill 1/2-hour or so.

Have you visited all the local attractions that are of any interest? Even if they seem like not really a big deal, so long as it's new to you it'll be fun to explore together.

Finally, there's nothing more fun than making fun of other people with your SO... we watch a few reality TV shows and talk about it so much while the show is on that it's nothing like passively watching TV. It's a bit like this.
posted by teleskiving at 10:58 AM on April 14, 2006

same problem here (i work shifts away from home which makes it worse - each person has their own "living alone" rhythm). what we did was:
- schedule some things we do every other weekend (when i'm home) like going out for coffee sunday afternoon to the cafe at the end of the street.
- play scrabble!
- have meals together when we're both around (so sit down at a table together rather than grabbing a sandwich when you're hungry).
- share positive information as well as negative (it bugged me that our conversation was dropping at times to nothing more than complaints about life).
sound like stupid things, but they really make a difference.
posted by andrew cooke at 11:00 AM on April 14, 2006

Have you all established a "date night?" I know at least one married couple that swears by setting aside one weeknight to watch a movie together and focus on one other.

Depending on your time and energy, I think mini-trips are great. Take an afternoon, drive to the ocean or the woods, walk around for a bit, drive back, having dinner along the way. Being somewhere totally unfamiliar together boosts the sense of togetherness (and gets you away from reminders of chores). How far are you from Great Falls?
posted by salvia at 11:29 AM on April 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

We're both film buffs, so see a lot of movies, but especially when we're renting stuff it's less of a passive activity -- we enjoy filling in each other's gaps in movie history (he's seen a million noirs; I've seen more foreign), so it's almost like we have a running "series" that we're both organizing for each other. (Most recently I turned him onto "Hard-Boiled"; he most recently showed me the original "Postman Always Rings Twice.") We also like going to galleries/museums and seeing live performances -- music, spoken word, comedy, theater, etc. Always plenty to chat about there.

Sometimes we'll put on some swing or Rat Pack stuff and dance -- he's a great dancer and I'm, well, not so much, but it's still a blast just to learn some steps and play around for awhile.

Another vote for low-pressure, inexpensive daytrips or weekend getaways -- as salvia said, going someplace unfamiliar or doing something new is a great togetherness booster.
posted by scody at 11:37 AM on April 14, 2006

I nth games. Scrabble is good and challenging. Sequence is oddly entertaining and great for trash talking. We play 2 person Uno at home or at the coffee shop. Uno is another silly game that lends itself to trash talking. Another oddly fun thing we like to do is to grab some poster board, cards, markers, dice, whatever, and make up our own board game from scratch then play it a few times. Sometimes they're clunkers, sometimes they're not. There are a few that we keep around because they're actually great fun.

Reading together or to each other is another good suggestion that I hadn't thought of until reading it in another AskMe. One of the funniest things of all time is to read a Harriet Carter catalog together and come up with uses for the crap your find there.

The Lady Fez is presently working on a puppet show that may or may not ever see the light of day but it is a great way to incorporate our varied interests. She gets to write and do artsy/crafty puppet production while I get to build the set and draw on my interest in audio oddities to put together the soundtrack. Later on we'll both get to work on our puppeteering skills.

Anyway, there are a few great ideas here. Just thought I'd add some that work for the Fezzes.
posted by Fezboy! at 11:52 AM on April 14, 2006

I'll second the grocery trip/try 3 new things suggestion! And scrabble! And afternoon sex. :D

- visit someplace/thing in your town you've never been but have been meaning to go to? (museum, gallery, hobby shop)
- visit the library/bookstore
- we have gotten into gardening - planted some herbs in the community herb garden, as well as some ornamentals that flower all summer.
- we watch birds at our bird feeders. the cats also like them. heh
- we take short walks
- we rent dvds
- we are devout Antiques Roadshow watchers
- we talk about our workdays while one of us makes dinner
- we try new wines (which I guess you can't do)
- we go to minor league baseball games - they're cheaper and less crowded
- we go to movies in theatres
- we share whatever we stumble over while surfing online
- we people watch the shoppers at the plant nursery behind our house
- we go hear speakers that interest us
- we volunteer a lot
- we read
posted by yoga at 11:53 AM on April 14, 2006

Occasional games, night walks, eating out, a trip to the park or beach, cooking together, reciprocal massage, grocery/other shopping, watching a movie together while snuggled or just touching hands or feet (same with reading), hanging out with common friends, road trips, and just generalized doing things together instead of individually. A lot of the time it isn't fun or exciting stuff, but it opens the door to random and not-so-random chit-chat and connection.
posted by moira at 11:56 AM on April 14, 2006

Also, I highly recommend Gottman's Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. This isn't any kind of commentary; we're happily married, and found the book incredibly insightful and useful.
posted by moira at 12:04 PM on April 14, 2006 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Wow...so many great ideas here. My mind's wheels are already turning. Thanks so much to everyone for opening up and helping me out. (And if anyone else has ideas, I can't get enough!)
posted by justonegirl at 12:15 PM on April 14, 2006

We watch a lot of movies together. It sounds stupid, but we've had a lot of really lengthy conversations and debates afterwards from what we've seen.

Bowling is definitely fun. Especially if you like to make a fool out of yourself, as I do.

Sometimes just going for a drive and looking at houses/scenery is fun.
posted by anjamu at 12:29 PM on April 14, 2006

Date night, for sure. In my house we don't have a lot of money to drop on expensive meals, but my husband really likes to cook. We pick up a nice bottle of wine and I hang out in the kitchen with him while he cooks and we chat. Then we eat a huge meal, drink a bunch of wine and enjoy the time together.

Another thing we like to do together is taking drives . We pick a scenic route and will drive for hours. I love doing this--we talk and laugh and sing along with the music. One of my fondest road trip memories was the day we were bored in MN and decided to take a spur of the moment trip to Canada. Driving through northern MN looking at the scenery and talking was a great way to spend some time together.

Also, games are great, especially SkipBo (very much like Spite and Malice) and Canasta. I love to play card games together, since it allows for a lot of time to chat and laugh and not focus on our problems.
posted by Sheppagus at 12:42 PM on April 14, 2006

We play console games. Mario Kart, stuff like that. We just bought a Dreamcast that should turn up in a couple of days, and that seems to have tons of family/girl friendly games (as opposed to shoot'em'ups, etc on the PS2).

We also 'go out' a lot. Not night clubbing (we do that perhaps once every few months!) but just going out grocery shopping, to visit family, or to visit random cities within a couple of hours' drive where we can stay for a night, etc.

When you're in a couple, otherwise dull towns can become quite amusing. We once randomly went to some place called "Bruce's Cave" which was, in reality, pretty boring, but we had lots of fun with it.
posted by wackybrit at 12:51 PM on April 14, 2006

It sounds like you're looking for around-the-house things rather than big trips. Here are some of the at-home activities my husband and I enjoy together:

Cooking. One of us will take charge of the main dish, and the other will be in charge of peripherals like side-salad, dessert, setting the table, choosing the wine, cleaning up the dining area. In addition to enjoying cooking, we also enjoy sitting down to a candlelit dinner together.

Board Games. In addition to those already mentioned, we've been getting a kick out of "O Zoo Le Mio" and "Carcassonne: The Castle".

Hike-Walking. That's a made-up term for when you dress for a hike, but start from your front door. Last weekend we enjoyed a walk that totalled 2 hours round-trip. We stopped at the turn-around point (a St*rbucks) for refreshments.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 12:53 PM on April 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, on the subject of board games -- we've started a semi-regular dinner night (about once a month or so) with another couple, with Trivial Pursuit on the menu following dessert and coffee. We tend to play in teams, but occasionally play individually as well.
posted by scody at 1:55 PM on April 14, 2006

Stuff I've successfully done with significant others (all very cheap): Watch a DVD, go for a walk, play a MMORPG like WoW, play a competive computer or video game.

Also consider joining some sort of fun group together.
posted by dagnyscott at 4:16 PM on April 14, 2006

Well, nothing new here, but I'd recomend what Kantgirl suggested (at least, my fiance and I enjoy it): Boardgames. Boardgamegeek.com (as she said) is a great start. But boardgames are great.

And again, like everyone else said: walking. It's cheap, easy (well, until the 6th month... :D) and a great way to connect, or just be together without the need for conversation.

Good luck! And good luck with the Baby, too!
posted by TrueVox at 4:55 PM on April 14, 2006

I totally agree with everyone who suggested walking-great for after the baby arrives, too. Mini-golf is fun, if you have that kind of husband. In our case, as long as we are together, it doesnt' matter. If your husband feels stressed from always being on the go, then maybe just being in the same room is what you both need. My husband and I have different interests (he loves movies-I'd rather read; I enjoy old cemeteries-and he will take me to ones he finds, then hang out while I wander, we both like football) but doing them together or at the same time or even seperately we can stay connected. Don't worry too much that you're not doing enough together-every marriage has it's phases.
posted by annieb at 5:42 PM on April 14, 2006

This is an inspiring thread!
posted by waxbanks at 11:06 AM on June 20, 2006

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