My husband and I love to get out together and away from our busy schedules. Sometimes it needs to be just the two of us, when we have something important to talk about. But if we don't have that kind of item to discuss, our conversation often whittles down to chewing in each other's company. And although there can be something companionable in that, we both realize that night after night of just chewing can produce an almost coma-like state. So what's our solution? Add more people to talk to!
We've found that if we invite another couple along to our dinner out, or even better, to our home, we have a lot more fun and we find out more about ourselves than if we were just alone. Conversation becomes richer and more varied, laughter becomes heartier, and our connection grows stronger because we sense the unit we are as we interact with others.
As we've included others in our plans, we've realized how rarely most people do this. Most of us live isolated lives that revolve around work, kids, and our own concerns. After a while, that becomes something of a treadmill that begins to wear on a couple. The sparks of earlier conversations and getting to know each other are gone, and the "sameness" of daily routine becomes numbing. But if you invite another couple in, the sparks again begin to fly (and in a good way).
I'm often surprised by how much I appreciate my husband as we interact with another couple. I'm surprised at his wisdom when he shares things he's learning—things we probably wouldn't have discussed if we were alone. Sometimes his sense of humor catches me unaware. When it's just the two of us, I forget how witty he can be. Those things make me feel glad I'm married to him in ways I don't realize when we are only in each other's company day after day.
So what do you need to do to get started? Here are some practical ideas:
Make a list of those couples you'd like to get to know better. Sit down with your spouse and decide on a few couples you'd love spending time with. This is important because you need to both enjoy the couple for this to work well. Don't try to talk one another into spending time with couples either of you doesn't think you'd enjoy. You both need to be excited about the couple for this to work.
Don't be discouraged if the first couple you ask can't make it. My husband and I have come up with a list of about 10 couples we really like. It's important to have more than one because it gives you variety when others' schedules are busy and they can't meet with you. There are times when I've called several couples to find someone who can go out with us or come over to our home for dinner. I'm not discouraged if I know I have someone else I can call.
Keep it simple. If you are going to do this regularly, keep the planning simple. Don't do something elaborate, or you probably won't do it very often. There have been many times we've invited someone over for pizza, or even just popcorn. If we prepare a meal, we often do something simple, such as soup and cornbread. Once, we even went with another couple to a park and cooked over the grills there. People are glad to be invited and don't care so much what they will be eating. Going out to eat makes it really easy for everyone too, but it can limit what you can do afterwards.
Plan something for after dinner. Often it's enough to just get together and talk. But if you have a couple over often, you may need to think of other things to do. Some ideas that have worked well for us are playing board or video games, watching sporting events together, going to a movie or watching one at home, and attending a play or a concert. If you feel there isn't much to do in your community, check out the events at a local university, or even a local high school. You may be surprised at what fun can be had.
Consider vacationing together. Our connections with other couples have grown so much that we've begun vacationing with them. A group of us went to a beautiful outdoor spot for a long weekend. We rented cabins in the same complex and spent the time outdoors. We planned meals together and everyone got involved in the cooking and cleaning up. We stayed up late and laughed more than I can remember doing in ages.
Another couple is celebrating a milestone anniversary next summer. They've asked us to accompany them to London since we've been there and they haven't. They want us to show them around and give them confidence in a new place.
Mix up ages and stages. My husband and I mostly have other couples over who are in our stage of life, but occasionally it's great to connect with someone older or younger. Some of our richest times have been when we've had an older couple over. We gain courage from their wisdom and perspective on life that is different from our own. Younger couples can connect us with things we've forgotten and give us a better sense of where the world is going. They add a freshness to life too.
So if you are spending most of your evenings chewing with your spouse, consider adding another couple to liven things up!