I’m a huge fan of marriage. When done well, marriage gives us lessons about God, his grace, and how to be more Christ-like. Not only that, it can be a lot of fun to travel this journey of life with another person.

Here are five ways to do marriage well and feel more intimate with one another.

#1: Play together
We generally think of children when we hear the words “play date,” but adults can actually enjoy play time as well. When was the last time that you and your spouse went on a date (or hung out around the house) and just laughed together or got a little silly?

Play is defined simply as “engaging in an activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.” And one sure way to know that you’re playing is you find yourselves laughing together and enjoying the moment. By the way, couples who laugh together feel happier about their marriage. Laughter really is good and healthy for your relationship.

As we become adults, our busy lives often keep us from slowing down to smell the roses. Instead, we move from one activity to the next (including social media) and rarely take time to actually engage in fun activities. Some experts even say that more and more people are getting diagnosed with ADHD because we live in a world that demands so much of our attention that we have lost our ability to focus on the things we need to. Don’t let that be the case with your spouse! Take time to set responsibility aside to enjoy time together. (And, in case you’re wondering – yes. Sex can totally count as play.)

#2: Pray together
And actually, this can include attending church together, reading scripture together, and talking to one another about what God is doing in your life.

You know how there are these statistics that Christian couples divorce just as often as non-Christians? Well, actually, those studies have simply asked people about religious preference. They have not asked about religious practice. But, the stats remain and people have taken them as fact. When this research has been expanded to include religious practices, couples who engage in spiritual practices together are actually less likely to divorce. And the reason is not because they feel they have to stay together. They report more commitment and happiness.

You know the old Shakespeare quote, “A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.” Apparently, there’s more to it than just taking the name “Christian” to feel more intimate in marriage. It requires some action. But, the cool thing about taking that action is that you’ll feel closer to God and closer to one another.

#3: Work together
I don’t mean at your full-time or part-time job and I certainly don’t mean that you should own a business together (though financially speaking – not a bad idea). I mean working together as a team on the chores that need to be done in the house.

When couples are surveyed about who does the most housework, generally speaking, both partners say that they are the ones to do most of the work. It’s a statistical impossibility that both partners in the relationship do the majority of the work. Problems don’t necessarily come because one does more than the other. The problem comes when one feels like the distribution of chores and duties is uneven. Sit down and talk with one another about how you see the distribution. Let your spouse know the chore that you most hate to do and find out what your spouse’s most disliked chore is. Try to even things up a bit.

Also, keep in mind that sometimes, it’s okay to leave some chores undone if you need to take a little break (see #1).

#4. Bring up the past
What?! Am I going there?

Not like you may think. There are probably many things that you can be thankful for in your marriage. Maybe you had some bad habits that have gone away since you got married. You might remember one of your first dates or something funny that happened between the two of you. Just maybe you can think back to something special about your wedding or just the fact that two of you have grown closer over the years.

Our brains have memory centers that connect to our emotions. This is why you can hear a song that takes you back to a special moment. Places and smells can do the same thing. Basically, any of your five senses can be used to remind you of something pleasurable or painful. To use this to the advantage of your relationship, take a moment to think back to something positive in your time together. Focus on a happy moment between the two of you and you’ll naturally feel a little more loving toward your spouse.

#5. Get a new hobby together.
This is a great way to build on your relationship because it causes you to break away from your normal routine, prioritize one another by finding time together, and build some positive memories. All three of these things help you to feel closer in the moment, and give you something to draw on later in your relationship (see #4).

There are plenty of options here even if money is tight. You might try doing a google search for “activities for couples” or look at events in your own city. It could also help to talk to one another about things you’d like to try but haven’t found the time to do. It may be gardening, a cooking class, dance lessons, finding trails to explore together, photography, or even game nights between the two of you.

So there you have it. Five ways to build on your relationship to feel closer to one another. Which one will you try first?

Wishing you hope and happiness!
Jessica