I remember having a conversation with our good friends, Josalyn and David once about advice we were given when we were first married. Josalyn said one I had never heard before- someone told her that to strengthen her marriage they should get together often with other couples.
This advice sort of seems contradictory- like if you have a free night to bond with your spouse it seems like you should just spend it alone with your spouse. And sometimes you should, but I really think there is something to the idea that getting together with other people can be just as strengthening. I know my favorite form of fun is getting together with and laughing uproariously with our couple friends (Joss is real good at the laughing part 😉 ). This, I think, strengthens our marriage much more than sitting at home and watching a show together. Also, research shows that we find our partners most attractive when we see them in a new or unusual setting different from the everyday norm- getting together with friends can do just that.
Wow, I had more to say about this topic than I thought. I’ll stop writing this post for Josalyn now. But, just know that this is the BEST person to write this post and both our love tanks and our stomachs have benefited GREATLY from getting together often with David and Josalyn 🙂
At this moment, my husband is sitting next to me at our desk doing Quicken. All the kids are finally asleep and although we are playing footsie under the table, this isn’t exactly what I would qualify as quality time together. I’m not going to lie; this is pretty typical for our evenings.
We have four kids under seven, one an infant, so date nights out are few and far between. We have date night at home at least once a week but a lot of that time translates into sitting in front of a screen together while snuggling on the couch. Not exactly quality time either. Don’t get me wrong. I am pro-snuggling. But we don’t talk much.
In fact I find that most of the time our conversations revolve around our children’s bathroom habits and misbehavior or my husband’s day at work … sound familiar?
Let me back up. When I was growing up my Dad always told me that I would make a very un-funny man very happy someday because I laugh easy and I laugh loud. David, my husband, is hilarious. One of my favorite times from when we were dating was when he said something funny as we were walking to class and I laughed so hard that I fell down and couldn’t get up. Every time someone walked by David said something else random and funny to them and it would start me all over again. I must have sat on that sidewalk for at least fifteen minutes, no exaggeration.
Does David still make me laugh like that? Sometimes I still fall on the floor in our kitchen and cry because I’m laughing so hard. It scares the children. But most of the time things are pretty boring around here …. Until we invite people over.
When we were newly married, we got some advice to spend time with other couples as a couple. I wish I could remember who gave us the advice now, because it was golden.
The idea is that when there are other people around, specifically people you don’t know well, all the things that initially attracted you to your spouse in the first place are suddenly there again in all their sexy glory. Your spouse is on their best behavior. You are so proud and pleased to be associated with them. ‘Yes that’s my husband’ you grin to yourself.
My husband turns his sense of humor on and I laugh and laugh. He has a knack for explaining random concepts he has learned about in a way that make other people feel something. He asks great questions and I am reminded of what a great listener he is. Something I often take for granted.
In fact, I am reminded of lots of good qualities that I take for granted sometimes just by the way the other couple interacts themselves. I often find myself thinking ‘Wow, I’m sure glad David doesn’t do that! I have the best husband ever!’ (Although not when we were hanging out with [insert your name here] of course) It works the other way too, I will see a woman treat her husband a certain way and think ‘That is so sweet, I should do that.’
Then the people leave and David and I discuss things that we wouldn’t usually discuss because we are on the same page about them. New people bring new ideas into our lives and minds and thus inspire lively conversations between me and my husband.
So how do I invite over random couples you may ask?
David and I still laugh about the first time we had a couple we didn’t know well over to dinner. We were very sneaky. We knew that this couple had a truck. We were walking through a discount store one day and we saw a couch that was pretty cheap and that we kind of liked. We were kind of on the fence about it but then we thought about this couple. We thought, ‘Hey, if we buy the couch we can borrow the truck and then we can invite them over to dinner as a payback gesture!!’ So we bought it. We became great friends with them, in fact the guy ended up helping us move cross country…
When we met Rich and Celeste I was terrified to invite them over because Celeste is beautiful and Rich wears these great glasses and had a beard and I totally thought they would be way too cool to be our friends, but they were totally excited. They asked us if we liked cabbage and the rest is history.
- It doesn’t have to be at your house if that freaks you out. Parks are good. Restaurants work. There are couples I know we won’t be able to get to leave our house so we meet them places.
- Your house doesn’t have to be perfect. The hospitality is more important than the environment.
- I still get butterflies when I ask new people over and I have been doing this for over eight years. Being nervous is fun.
- It helps to have something to focus on. We have a wide variety of board games and I usually start people off by asking them to dinner. Dessert works too. No one says no to dessert. Well, almost no one.
- Don’t assume you won’t get along with someone! Don’t do it. You can’t tell who will be your friends. It doesn’t have to do with age, kids’ ages, beauty or socioeconomic status. I could tell you stories about friends we’ve made where each of these situations made me think that we wouldn’t get along and we ended up being great friends.
- Let your kids entertain their kids. Teaching your kids how to be good hosts and hostesses is a great side benefit to having other families over. Ages are less important than you think.
- Oh, LDS missionaries work great if you want to start out with someone who will surely say yes. Those kids will not pass up a meal. We feed missionaries once a week and David has told each new set of missionaries the same stories and you know what? I never get sick of hearing them.