Keeping the spark alive with some fun couple activities
So whilst Im no expert on the matter, I DO happen to be married, and so naturally I have a particularly vested interest in the subject matter. We, as per the modern norm of couples these days, seem to find ourselves with constantly strained schedules and find that dedicated time for each other has become increasingly harder to come by. We’ve learnt that this time doesn’t just present itself, or magically appear out of no where. It needs to be carved out. By us. And we found that when we do take the time to do so, it feels like the stars realign themselves and our soul tanks were topped up. It’s like we re-establish our equilibrium once more and have happy dust coursing through our veins again. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies, but when it is, that is what we all enjoy and hold onto, and try to have and create more of it as possible. It’s part of the glue. So I thought I’d share with you what we do,what we enjoy and what works for us.
So what do we do? Well, we do stuff! And by stuff, I mostly mean action-packed or fun-filled stuff. Yes, adventurous, but mostly, and at the very least, we do something that’s new to both of us, and that gets us even just a little out of our comfort zones.
If you’ve ever read articles or tips on building and maintaining your marriage, this seems to be a point that crops up quite often: “try something new together”. And we’ve found that is exactly what works for us. Travelling at least once a year to somewhere new was one way that unknowingly also kept our spark alive –both inside of ourselves and in each other. But now, as we’ve discovered, travel is not always as easily possible as before, so we now actively look for some fun physical activities to do together.
Now, given the fact that we have two small beasties, along with extremely limited “access” to babysitters, our days of adventure are limited. Yes, we know there are options of taking kids with, but these times I’m talking about are supposed to be just for the two of us – purely for hubby and me to remind ourselves of the unit that we once were and still are. So whilst we don’t get to do it as often as we’d like, we’ve committed to at least every anniversary!
Now, I hear you: “an action-packed anniversary?! That extends beyond the shenanigans chandelier-swinging?!” Yes, I know, not quite your typical way to ring in the next year of holy matrimony, but we are that couple that went on honeymoon to a Thailand kickboxing camp. (complete with passing on a hotel honeymoon suite and bunked it down in the camp’s “luxury” rooms that we often shared with the resident reptilian family. Reptilian friends that came to visit our bed through the hole in the walls.) But if you really knew us, you’d know this is a very normal Mike & Trax thing to do. And if you knew my hubby, you wouldn’t be suprised that he named the big reptile, “Harry”.
Yes, we’re outdoorsy people; we love action, sweat, mud, a bit of heart-racing, and adventure..Who doesn’t love adventure?! However, for the sake of sharing in new experiences and growing closer, it doesn’t have to be super-duper adverturous, sometimes, just something new and out of our comfort zone will do. And I promise you, it can do wonders for your spirit and strengthening one’s relationship. At the very least you’ll have some fun stories to share and amusing memories made.
The idea that you have to keep in mind is “new and fun experience”, and “takes you a little out of your comfort zone”. Because just outside of comfort zones? THAT’S where the magic happens! So, it doesn’t have to be too hectic.
Stuck for some ideas? Well, this year, for our anniversary, I was in charge of selecting our adventure, and in trying to find something, I started thinking about what we have done already. These are some of my favourites, and I hope it will inspire some fun ideas for you too:
1. Get high on a ‘Copter ride :There nothing quite as exhilirating as the whistling start up of a helicopter and the cutting sound of the propellers through the air – and lets not talk about actual take off! This was definitely one of the most fun activities Mike and I shared together. Of course it would’ve been even better if I was sitting in the pilot’s seat – but thats a story for another time.
Ladies and gents, I cannot recommend this experience enough: it’s not everyday in the least, its exciting, and offers the best damn view of Cape Town – like ever! What’s more is that the pilot and staff make that the experience is easy, friendly and informative. In fact, they tend to be quite accomodating if the weather permits them to be: I was actually going to have a special message written out on the beach for Mike to read from the sky, and the pilot was willing to play with. However, I just didn’t have enough time to co-ord it with my buds, as it was yet another last minute idea. Pity. But all in all, this was still a goody. Since it was my gift to Mike, he got to sit infront, and I’ve got to tell you, I was jelly as hell. We used the services of a company near the waterfront.
By the way, my buddy also used the military styled adventure flight with another company to propose to his woman. He used the exhilaration of the flight to amp up the excitement, and it worked like a charm! He nearly lost his props whilst trying to propose, as the wind cut through the copter and almost blew it out of his hand, but still, it’s a fun story I love hearing anytime, and I’m sure its something they look back on with fond memories and fat smiles!
2. Outdoor ballet theatre: This was totally new concept to me, as I was used to ballets inside a theatre. But thanks to Mike, he lifted that rock that I was living under and introduced me to The Maynardville Open-Air Theatre which is situated in Maynardville Park, Wynberg. What’s very key to keep in mind is that this was completely out of Mike’s comfort zone. Luckily, he enjoyed it enough to keep buying us tickets for more ballets and opera’s, ever since. We started our’s off with a picnic in the park before the show started. I would recommend kicking off your evening the same way, as there is little to no talking inside once the ballet commences, so getting your talk time in before hand is perfect time to connect.
3. Year of DANCE do overs: Mike knew how disappointed I was by our failed dance attempts of our anniversary the year before. So for our 5th year together, we did a do-over! Same place, more love, and even more dance moves! He grooved with me to all the songs I loved, we pretended to be able to jazz, whilst dodging all the sokkie-sokkie couples on that dance floor, and just had a ball of a time.
Sure, Dinner and dance it’s not exactly wow on the adventurous scale for most, but certainly major a wow for us on just the fun and silly factor scale! Because, something you must know, aside from my dance background and Mike’s upbringing into dance, and not counting that one night in a club together before we actually dated, and also not counting our wedding reception, we had actually never danced together. (WTH, right?) It didn’t help that, despite his upbringing in dance, Mike is mostly loathe to dance and thus this activity took him completely out of his comfort zone. Very likely out of ALOT of men’s comfort zones, mind you!!
Needless to say, that certainly was an adventure for us.One that we both look back on with fond, tipsy memories. For a fantastic dinner and dance experience, I can only but recommend Pigalle in Cape Town!
4. Tango – And on that dance token, because of that night mentioned above, Mike has agreed to us taking tango lessons together. We’re still trying to make it happen three years on, and we’ll get there eventually. But that doesn’t mean you and hubby cant get to it right now! Just think: up close, entwined in each other for a dedicated time, learning a new skill – a skill that requires so much teamwork. It’s the recipe for organized intimacy. Not to mention simply sizzling on the dance floor together!!
There are quite a few schools around here and once we’ve committed to one, I shall be sure to update the link here.
5. Gun slinging– Also for our 4th year, we went for a gun handling and training course. And oh mein goht! What fun was that! We were trained on handling a large array of different size guns, followed by a few friendly battles between Mike and myself. And, if you also know Mike and I as a young couple, you’d know that we always had a slight sense of healthy competition between each other. Especially the physical. Anything, really – but especially physical. In fact, the fact that he was the first male, besides my brother, to ever beat me 3 times in a row at TEKEN III, was enough for me to lay down the game console and never challenge him at it again…. And instead, I sought competition with him in other areas I’d win some. He’d almost win others. (LOL, just kidding, we’re pretty evenly matched in strengths and weaknesses. And I suppose that’s what makes us such a great team in real life.)
But yeah, this gun course was fantastic. We did flinch tests (ie. who doesn’t flinch when they pull the trigger)– I totally owned that one. Mike, however, wiped the floor with me during accuracy tests using the gloch’s. I again owned the magnum. However, the speed and accuracy test with the shotguns were pretty damn close- but he took home the prize. I was like, “lets try best out of three”..”ok, best oout of five!”..lol…
Can you tell, Im itching for a rematch?! 🙂
Point is, with the element of danger, trust exercises, and some competition elements, it brought alive parts of ourselves that may have become dormant while becoming parents; Morgan-Lee was only a few months old, and I was still in this soft nurturing mode, so it was great to feed the other side of myself too, and see Mike also be consumed in it all.
We eventually had to pull the plug on all the fun we were having, right before we took it outside to the veld, because, you know…parents and all. We were on the clock with our baby sitter. AND my boobs were totally filling up! (hands up how many of you have expressed milk at a shooting range) 🙂
In lieu of me finding the details of the actual school we used back then, here instead is the details of another shooting range that offers social shooting training courses, and was recommended to me.
6. Jet off to exotic island. Yes, yes, I know I mentioned travel earlier as a separate thing, but even if it’s just once that you do this for your anniversary, I couldn’t recommend it enough! That year, we totally needed this break away. Far, far, far away from the maddening crowd; it had been a rough first year with our first baby, and then buying our first home, along with all the stresses and strains of life. We had been a slave to the grind and needed to rekindle some of our lust for life, and just getting some general rest. So off we jetted to Mauritius. We spent the morning of our anniversary on boats, snorkelling and just relaxing with our little one year old.
I was in charge of dinner plans that year. And , Ive got to pat myself on the back, yo! Between Mike and I , I totally “win” anniversary!! (This is a long standing inside joke of our’s, by the way) To make the anniversary extra special, I organized a sunset dinner on the beach, far, far, far from anyone at our resort, with our own very cool team of waitrons. Followed by romantic walks on the beach…with not a soul in sight. (See why I win?) : ) We had almost forgotten what a night alone was, where we could just be swept up in the romance and magic of us.
Celebrating our years together on an island far from home or anyone else in fact, where we could just be in our own little bubble, was just what the doctor recommended. Definitely an experience that was fresh and new to both of us, and certainly revived our own sparks for life and fanned our flames for each other. How well did it fan them? Well, well enough to need to go pee on stick! 🙂
Now for some honorary mentions; We may not have done these for anniversaries but are equally as good for some fun activities for couples to do:
7. White water rafting – one of our first adventures together as a dating couple. We had a rough start to that morning, with a few awkward snaps exchanged in the car on our way there. But white water rafting requires a lot of team work if you ever want to get to the other side. So after a few heavy sighs and eye rolls being exchanged, we eventually found our rhythm, got our heads in the game and got to the other side. More importantnly we managed to have fun along the way and worked out our differences. I think that day was a good lesson for us as a couple in how to dig deep in our patience and understanding pockets, and unclenching fists to instead offer the willing and loving hand, if we ever wanted to get to the other side together.
We did this almost 10 years ago, so cannot clearly remember the company that we did it through. There are plenty offerings out there, here is one of them to check out.
8. Take a hike – How does sleeping under the stars on dessert sand for five to six days sound? Along with the soothing sound of a bubbling brook, all while nestled in your sleeping bag with your beloved spouse as you take in some of nature’s finest moments? Romantic, right? Now add a few wild animals, minus a few lifestyle luxuries like, oh say, plumbing, and what you have right there, is a sweet examaple of “out of your comfort zone”! Haha! Ok, ok, I may not have sold that very well there, but hiking to this day is still one of my most fave activities to do – both with my hubby and family. Nothing like fresh air and being surrounded by nature to clear the mind and remind you of whats the most important in life.
And if six days is just not your number, there are shorter two day hikes. Although, if time is tight (as it almost always is for most parents) then a day hike has magic in itself too! Cape Town is not short of it’s offerings in hikes, so why not join a hiking club – even it’s just for that one hike. Or get a group together, consult some experienced hikers, and do adequate preparation before you head out there!PS. It’s always preferable to have some experienced hikers along. (That way we dont keep the NSRI guys too busy.)
Here is a list of a few short days hikes in Cape Town (+/- 2 hours). And here is a list of a few of the best multiday hikes in South Africa. But of course, I have to mention the Fish River Canyon out in Namibia – the SECOND largest canyon in the world. It’s just one of those hikes thats on almost every hiker’s bucket list! You simply HAVE to! 🙂
9. Fitness Challenge together – There are a few races out there that challenge you, but none like Impi. Whilst Mike and I were not in our best shapes following our first child, there was still a thrill of enjoyment as we plunged into icy waters, scaled crazy high walls, and slid through narrow, dark, underground mud tunnels together. Keyword there: together!
We weren’t in any danger of breaking any records that day, but I loved the support we gave each other and did everything together. The nerves that were felt at some obstacles(by me), the admiration and inspiration I had for Mike when he did some of those things, and the encouragement he gave me. As well as the steel I rediscovered in myself for when that small voice creeps in to say that “you can’t do it”, and then I did it anyway.
Overall, the challenge itself seems to be an all-rounder of a bonding experience – if you want it to be one. Which was evident by the fact that lots of couples entered together –including my bro and his wife, and our close friends who are married. It’s the kind of race where you want someone by your side, who has your back – and who better to have your back, than your spouse!
10. Sand Boarding: Learning a new skill, whilst staring down the 200m + steep hill as you precariously balance your board on the edge of the sand dune is something else, I tell ya! Also the waxing of your board seems to give you that false illusion that you’re as cool as those surfers you’ve seen on the movies. Like you’re totally badass, and as you’re about launch yourself down that …*cough*…bunny slope…you feel like this would be the perfect time for the camera man to do an upclose of your face, go all slow motion to capture the tension of the moment, and add an epic soundtrack to it all. Then cue scratched record, as you ungraciously wipe out and rise with a faceful of sand. Then you turn around crash into laughter with your spouse – because today’s not the day you take yourself seriously. The day you come to the sand dunes to learn to board is a day full of fun and laughter…and adrenalin! Its a half day experience and perfect to spend some easy going quality time together, whilst getting in a bit of cardio and lots of laughs…and sand stuck in your briefs. We used these guys a few years ago, and loved them!
11. Ziplining: If exhiliration is your thang, but don’t want to work up too much of a sweat from physical strain, then perhaps ziplining is more your flavour. There’s a little bit of nerves involved (depending on your relationship with heights), but lots of opportunities for fun and to encourage and support each other. We chose the Magaliesburg canopy tour back when there only were three to really choose from in SA, and they were great. These days however, there’s alot more to choose from. And if you’re looking for more than just ziplining up and down, then Acrobranch is very much the number you may want to dial with their cool obstacle course ! I was there last year – not as a couple though- but I know Mike would’ve loved it. Be warned:it involves heights…and moving platforms! Enjoy!
And there you have it, our current list of favourite fun activities as a couple to reconnect. There are plenty of other fun activities out there to still discover, so this list is not the be all to end all. In fact, I hope to be updating it as the years go by.
I think keeping this mini-tradition up has become even closer to my heart now as a parent. Especially so, because such adventures don’t present themselves in the everyday anymore. Yes, we have other sorts of new adventures now, but those involve little giggles of defiance, unauthorised wall art, along with throw-up and poop. Not always the kind of fun we’re after.
This year, we’ve had to postpone our little anniversary adventure, due to a silly foot injury I picked up. But watch this space (and Instagram) to see what I’ve been cooking up for us this year. Hope you will join us in keeping the fun alive in marriages, and actively investing in ourselves and in our spouses.
Here’s to making fun memories, maintaining and building stronger bonds, and happy marriages! X