Play “My Team”
I came up with the idea for “My Team” because of a game kids used to play in middle school called “Your Team.” The idea behind Your Team is simple, if most definitely cruel — as you see losers or weirdos on the street, you call them for the other person’s team, as if to say “look at that ugly dude, he’s on your team.” One day, I had the idea to start playing a game called “My Team” instead, with Alex.
The game is simple: We are constantly on the lookout for awesome people around us to call for “our team.” (And as it turns out, many of those awesome people were probably once dubbed the losers in middle school.) The game has no end, and only one rule: The other person has to be able to see the team member you’re calling.
My Team is a great game because it makes you approach an everyday train ride or walk around the neighborhood together with a sense of presence and appreciation. Sometimes, if I’m feeling especially generous, I’ll point out a little kid on a scooter that has Alex’s Team written all over him. Other times, we’ll both rush to snag an elderly couple sharing a newspaper. Either way, we both win.
Alternate Date Nights
We got this idea from our one pair of married friends. At first, when they told us they switch off planning Friday night dates every week, I thought the idea was cute, if a bit middle-aged. Alternating date nights? Isn’t that something you do when romance is dead? Nope, turns out, they’re onto something.
As we all know, when you get into a long-term relationship, it’s easy to fall into comfortable ruts. Sometimes, you miss being taken out on dates, and if you’re a straight woman, it’s especially easy to place all the responsibility for romance on the guy (thanks rom-coms!), which is unfair to both of you.
By alternating weekly date nights, you have the chance to take the other person out and share something you would find fun with them. It doesn’t have to be fancy either. I’ve found that all that really matters to me is that someone has put some thought into where they’d like to take me, or what they’d like to share. Create a Google calendar reoccurring event to remind you whose turn it is, and when the reminder pops up every Thursday, you’ll know it’s almost the freakin’ weekend.
Try Staring into the Other Person’s Eyes for Two Minutes
This one is going to feel really weird at first. You might think that you look into your boo’s eyes all the time, but chances are, you don’t hold sustained, direct eye contact — even during sex — for more than a few seconds.
If you can sit facing each other and see if you can look into each other’s eyes for two minutes — without laughing — you are going to build some major intimacy and trust. You’d think it’d be easy, but it’s a humbling exercise, to say the least.
Assign Each Other an Art Project
One of my favorite memories of our early relationship is a rainy day Alex and I spent together when we assigned each other an art project to work on for a few hours. Because Alex likes photography, I gave him a list of words (like “blue,” “love,” and “home”) and told him to take a photograph that represented each word to him. In turn, he assigned me a word to write a poem around. We then shared what we’d made when we were done.
Every awesome couple I’ve met is great at spending this kind of separate alone time together, and it’s because it allows for so much space and intimacy at the same time. This is a great way to practice, while fostering your own sense of creativity.
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