In any relationship, it's important to enjoy time apart to pursue the things you individually love. But our experts say that creating shared experiences, via hobbies, can bond a couple together in incredible ways.
"Having shared interests and hobbies means that you will be spending intentional time together doing things you both enjoy," explains Lesli Doares, marriage coach and author of Blueprint For A Lasting Marriage. "It isn't about running the house or dealing with the dog. It's about having fun together on a regular basis."
Sharing experiences that have nothing to do with chores or mundane everyday life build a deep connection between a couple. "When you're doing enjoyable things together, it creates positive interactions and happy memories that protect your relationship from the boring and the difficult," Doares explains. "And the more positive experiences you have together, the stronger the relationship foundation becomes."
Of course, when it comes time to pick a hobby, it's important to select one you'll both enjoy, cautions Toni Coleman, psychotherapist and relationship coach. To decide what might work for you, Coleman encourages you to think about what you both enjoy to see where your interests or desires overlap, as well as search for something that allows for play time and quality interaction. In other words, Netflix marathons won't count.
If you need some further inspiration, however, we've got you covered. Here are five hobbies our experts say will be fun and bring you closer together.
1. Exercise together.
When you hit the gym, don't put in your ear buds and simply say sayonara to your significant other. Instead, says Doares, sweat it out together. "Doing the same exercise, whether it's running, biking, or CrossFit, together keeps you connected," she explains. "You both will be experiencing the same thing at the same time which creates a shared experience. Plus, encouraging each other to keep going and get better will translate to being more supportive in other areas of your relationship."
2. Take cooking classes — or any other type of class.
Much like exercising together, cooking together under the watchful eye of a skilled chef creates a shared experience you can relive (and re-eat) at home. "Learning something new releases dopamine — the feel good neurochemical — and doing it with your partner connects that good feeling to them," adds Doares. "Practicing at home creates a sense of camaraderie that learning something alone can't match."
3. Buy season tickets to your favorite sport's team.
There's nothing that bonds you together quite like cheering on your winning team, or cheering each other up after a devastating loss. Plus, as Coleman says, having season tickets means working a regular date night into your routine. "Not only is it a fun way to spend an evening or weekend together, but it allows you to plan your dates in advance," she explains.
According to Doares, being in nature and getting your hands dirty with the one you love can be a big stress reliever. Not only that, "but when you do it together, you learn to cooperate in seeing your overall plan come to fruition," Doares points out. "The sense of accomplishment is both immediate and shared which are important for feeling connected."
5. Do jigsaw puzzles.
Daunting though it may be, "finishing a jigsaw puzzle is a definable goal," says Doares. And, just as you may with life's little puzzles, you can learn a lot about one another by watching how each of you approaches the solution, in a low-pressure scenario, Doares says. "It can provide a non-threatening window into how each of you think and perceive life," she says. "Because it isn't a problem that has to be solved, there is no pressure and you can take an approach of curiosity."
In the end, Doares says, "it doesn't really matter what hobby you choose. Rather, having something fun that you do on a regular basis provides an alternative to focusing strictly on the relationship. When you are involved in an activity of choice, the pressure is off and you can experience just being together."