I recently found myself with some unexpected free time alone with my husband. Lucia was in bed, all my work was done, there was nothing pressing either of us had to do around the house, and it was about 40 minutes before we typically go to sleep. This doesn't happen often, so I wanted to make the most of it and actually spend the time actually doing something together. I'm a huge fan of marriage building/memory making moments. I couldn't think of anything, so I asked the ladies of #cathsorority for some ideas. Their responses were so great, I decided I had to share them with others who just might find themselves with 30 spare minutes with their spouses.
1. Watch a TV series together. Whenever you get some free time on your hands, turn on the next episode from your list of recorded shows, a DVD of your favorite series, or Netflix. (suggested by Kate)
2. Read a book together. Choose one that can be easily picked up at any point or ones with short stories if these opportunities are few and far between.
3. Flip through a photo album. Reminisce about your wedding day, when your first child was born, or that incredible vacation.
4. Interview each other. Kendra suggested, "Come up with 5 or 10 random questions to ask each other....I read about it on this one married couple's blog."
5. Play the newlywed game. Similar concept to interviewing each other, both of you answer the questions separately and see if your answers match up. Example questions:
- What time did our first date start and end?
- Where did we have our first kiss?
- Who was the first person to pass gas in front of the other?
- Should the toilet paper go over or under?
- What did you get each other for Christmas the previous year?
- What was the best gift you ever got from your spouse?
- If your spouse could have any job s/he wanted, what would s/he do?
- What was the first meal you made for me?
- What is your favorite memory together?
- What would be your spouse's ideal bedtime and wake up time?
(For these last few, choose one spouse for both of you to answer for - for example the husband answers for himself and the wife answers with what she thinks her husband would say.) If you need more questions and can't come up with any of your own, just search "Newlywed Game questions" - there are a ton of great ideas out there!
6. Have a mini photo shoot. Take pictures of each other, together, with funny props, or dressed to the nines!
7. Make a quick and easy dessert. Caitlin of Catholic Cookie Jar suggests these Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies. You might also want to try one of these mug cake recipes or this paleo fudge recipe that my husband loves.
8. Do a crossword puzzle together. Mikayla suggests the puzzles at puzzles.usatoday.com.
9. Turn on music and dance. Don't forget to slip in your first dance song.
10. Do a scavenger hunt. Jenna suggests, "You can each make a list of things and then see who can gather them fastest. Winner gets a massage from the loser."
11. Bundle up and sit outside in the dark with cocoa. (suggested by Jenna)
12. While you're outside, why don't you stargaze? Use a sky map to help you find a new constellation.
13. Grab a Mad Libs book. I promise they're as fun as you remember!
14. Pray together. I like this daily prayer for married couples. Some other ideas: pray the rosary, start a new novena, or make a list of prayer intentions for your family.
15. Play school. Find something you can do but he can't and teach him and vice verse. Ideas: changing a tire, rolling your tongue, doing the hand jive. Or learn something new together (one word: YouTube) like the moonwalk or a card trick. (Another great one from Jenna)
16. Learn another language. Any time you find that free time, learn another phrase or two. Or learn "I love you" in every language.
17. Make a fancy cocktail, pour glasses of wine, or grab a couple beers and savor it together.
18. Arts and crafts. Make a present for each other from whatever you can scrounge up. (Thanks, Jenna)
19. Work out. Find a 30 minute workout video or go for a jog.
20. Plan your future. Talk about your dreams and goals for your family.
21. Give each other a massage. 15 minutes each, then switch. Cooking oils work great if you don't have any massage oil lying around (our favorite is safflower oil).
22. Flex your funny bone. Take turns telling jokes. You might want to invest in a joke book to keep around the house.
23. Clean house together. Tackle one room together or one task (folding laundry, dishes, etc.). Use the time to talk as well as clean.
24. Swap stories. Take turns telling each other stories from high school, stories about your grandparents, ghost stories you remember from childhood, etc. No matter how long you've been married, you can still learn something new about your spouse.
25. Do blind taste tests. One spouse is blindfolded, is fed by the other spouse, and has to figure out what the food is. This idea is totally stolen from Hell's Kitchen, but I've always wanted to do it. You should probably set some rules regarding whether you can make each other taste something nasty, just in case...
26. Make a gratitude list. Either make one together and make separate lists and compare. If you're feeling particularly romantic, make a list of reasons you're grateful for each other and exchange.
27. Do yoga together. Not necessarily the same thing as working out, think more of relaxing partner stretches. I currently have this book on my wish list.
28. Play a game. Make sure it's one that can be completed in 30 minutes or less - NO Monopoly! Some ideas: Tic Tac Toe, Scrabble, Uno, Cribbage, Battleship, Go Fish, Boggle, Scene-It, Hangman, Pictionary, Bohnanza, Yahtzee, Sequence, Skip-Bo, Scattergories, Gin Rummy, Chutes and Ladders, Phase 10, Chess, Checkers, War, Speed.
Or play video/computer games. We rarely do it, but I love a little Super Mario Bros on the Wii. If you don't own any game consoles, you can hop on the computer and find online versions of some retro games (like Ms. Pacman!) and take turns seeing who can get the best score.
29. Bless someone else. Spend your time thinking of a way to bless someone you know. Write a letter to a loved one. Go online and shop for a little gift to show someone how much you care. Search the internet for a charity that means something to both of you and donate (even if it's just $5). Let your marriage be a blessing to someone else!
30. Cuddle/canoodle. I hope this is one you would have come up with on your own.
If you find yourself with these short unexpected together moments, you might want to make a little "30 minute date jar" with ideas written on slips of paper or popsicle sticks that you can randomly choose to mix things up.
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