"The television is an easy ice breaker for couples," explains Lynn Gilliard, relationship expert and author of Let Him Chase You. "It gives couples a reason to 'bond' over something while doing little to no work — which is especially welcome after a long day of work. But the television provides a distraction for our minds that may not be healthy for a marriage in the long run."
If you're ready to break free of an after-work routine that isn't helping your marriage and engage instead in activities that will bond you together, we're ready with five creative suggestions.
1. Slip into a relaxing bubble bath together.
Zoning out to a Friends marathon is appealing because it takes little energy after a long day. But the beautiful thing about a bath built for two is that it only takes the turn of a faucet knob. "Light candles and relax together before going to bed," Gilliard says.
2. Put on the soundtrack to your youth.
If you must turn on electronics, turn to your iPod instead, Gilliard suggests. Build a playlist — each selecting several songs — that will allow you to reminiscence over younger years. As you sit back and listen to the tunes, tell each other funny stories from when you were children.
3. Make an after-work stop at a park or waterfront.
Prepare for your rendezvous by packing a picnic blanket in your trunk before you leave for work, then greet one another in the great outdoors instead of in your living room. This takes-no-effort time together "will inspire you to spend more time outside of the home before vegging out and going to bed," Gilliard says.
4. Have dessert first.
There's something luxurious — and relaxing! — about whipping up a chocolate or fruit-filled confection, watching it bubble as it bakes, then feeding one another bites while it's still warm and gooey. Gilliard says baking together is a way to bask in one another's company before you settle down for the evening.
5. Pick up your guitar.
If one or both of you is blessed with musical talent, prompt the other for a private performance. Or, Gilliard suggests, "write a song together, then have the instrumental member of the couple play the tune."
There are, of course, many more ways to spend quality time together after a long day at the office that don't require a lot of physical effort — think playing cards, planning a vacation, or even taking a stroll around the block. The important thing is to break free of your after-work routine, and reap the benefits.
"The more time you spend together, noticing each other and talking to each other instead of watching the 'boob tube,' the more you remember why you fell in love in the first place," says Gilliard. "A marriage is about experiencing life together, and you can't do that if you're only focused on the lives of actors, celebrities and reality stars on television. Prioritize each other."