A few years ago, my wife and I read Dr. Gary Chapman’s popular marriage book The 5 Love Languages. In doing so, we discovered that one of the primary ways my wife experiences love is when we spend quality time together. As an introvert, and a bit of a couch potato, this was an adjustment for me. I enjoy spending time with my wife, but I wasn’t doing it as much as I should have been, and the time we did spend together tended to take place in front of the TV.

Here are 9 ways my wife and I have started spending more quality time together and the benefits we’ve received from each idea.

We volunteer together.

Volunteering together in our church nursery was a great opportunity for my wife and I to grow closer. Not only were we spending time together, we got to see one another doing important work. This helped grow our respect for one another and gave us the confidence to later adopt our daughter.

Plus volunteering is believed to reduce stress, and marriage is more fun when you’re both less stressed.

We go for walks together.

I used to go on walks by myself almost every day. Now, we do it as a family. Some of our best conversations happen while we’re strolling around the neighborhood.

An added benefit is that exercise causes our brains to release endorphins — chemicals that help us feel happier.

And researchers at the University of Michigan recently found that, “In several studies, people who worked out only once or twice a week said they felt much happier than those who never exercised. In other studies, 10 minutes a day of physical activity was linked with buoyant moods.”

Marriage is more fun when you’re both in a good mood.

We go on mini road trips together.

It’s not feasible to go on a vacation every month, so my wife and I started taking mini road trips together.

On Saturdays, we’ll find a restaurant, outlet mall, or park and drive an hour outside of town to enjoy it.  

We read together.

I work from home, and my wife is currently taking time away from teaching to bond with our new daughter. So the three of us are together almost 24/7.

When you spend a lot of time with your spouse, one of the challenges with quality time can be finding things to talk about.

One strategy that has really helped us is reading books or listening to podcasts we can discuss together. One book we enjoyed was the The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.

We also love giving each other quizzes to get to know one another better. Even though we’ve been together for over seven years, we’ve still spent most of our lives apart. There are so many stories to tell, fears to understand, and goals to explore.

We go to the gym together.

Going to the gym together has been good for several reasons. First of all, the accountability makes it easier for me to actually go to the gym. But it has also been an opportunity for us to appreciate each other’s strength and fitness.

These workouts have taught me that my wife is way tougher than I am, and she has more willpower than I do. Knowing this has helped me notice other areas where her resilience makes our lives better.

We do home improvement projects together.

It’s easy to contract out home improvement projects (or to avoid them altogether), but my wife and I actually look for little changes we can make around the house. Teaming up on a project brings us closer together, and it gives us a greater appreciation for the home we share.

So far, some of the projects we’ve taken on were repainting our entire house, sanding and repainting the kitchen cabinets, hanging new shelves, and adding flower beds in the backyard.

We budget together.

While budgeting isn’t exactly a date idea, I think doing it together has really strengthened our marriage. It’s an opportunity for us to set goals together and to team up in achieving them. It shows that we respect each other’s opinions. And it helps us avoid conflict.

According to a survey conducted by Ramsey Solutions, money is the #1 issue married couples argue about. For couples who don’t budget together, I can totally understand why. If one person is responsible for the money, he automatically turns into the “bad guy” who has to remind his spouse not to overspend.

My wife and I made this mistake for a few years before we realized the importance of “doing the money” together. When you’re both on the same page, the conversation shifts from you against your spouse to both of you against a goal.

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We cook together.

Cooking was not something I grew up doing, but as an adult, I’ve been trying to get better at it. Preparing food with my wife is fun because it’s something we can do together, it helps us both appreciate our meal more since we made it ourselves, and it keeps the work of cooking from falling completely onto one person.

We especially love cooking from meal delivery kits (Blue Apron and Hello Fresh are two options we really like). Basically, they’re companies that send you pre-portioned ingredients along with recipes for how to prepare them. You can pick which meals you want, but we like to be surprised because it’s more of an adventure.

Meal delivery boxes have made us better cooks and helped us learn to like new foods. Plus, cooking these pre-portioned meals feels like assembling a model airplane — which is very exciting for my inner child.

We eat together.

Before we adopted our daughter, my wife would spend most of her day at work. Then we would make food, eat it in front of the TV, wash the dishes, and go to bed — not much quality time.

Eating dinner at the table helped us to spend more time together where we could actually have a conversation.

Quality time is powerful because it shows love and builds love.

Spending more quality time with my wife has helped me demonstrate how much I love her. And the experiences we’ve had together have made us love each other more.

Hopefully, this post has given you a few ideas for how you can spend more quality time with your spouse.

Of course, quality time isn’t the only love language. For more information on the other four, check out this post I wrote or grab a copy of Dr. Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages.