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These days, it can be hard enough squeezing in more than six hours of sleep, let alone keeping your romance spicy and fresh. "The idea is to be interested in your mate and treat your relationship as if you were dating," says Toronto-based psychotherapist Marsha Berniker. Yet rarely do we have the time and energy to get out to the movies or dress up for a night out with our significant other, opting instead for a movie at home and some take-out.
We often find comfort in the same old routine, and tend to leave our spontaneity and dreams trailing behind. But when did obligation and stress become deal breakers? With a little creativity – OK, maybe a lot – you and your partner can ditch the predictability and break out of your lacklustre routine. Who says Baby and Johnny Castle are the only couple who can get up on stage and perform a daring dance routine?
"It's crucial for couples to spend time talking about themselves and their needs," says Berniker. "Getting back to an earlier stage to when they were dating will keep their relationship strong." So pump up the passion in your relationship and fulfill those dreams by making a couple's bucket list. Here is our practical guide to making your list – we'll even help get you started with some groovy and inspiring ideas!
Find common ground
If you are unsure of where to begin, start simple. Grab a pen and paper and sit down with your significant other. Start by writing out 10 things you have wanted to do on your own and 10 things you have dreamed about doing as a couple. Soon, you'll find yourself reaching for more paper. Always keep in mind that at this stage, it is crucial not to doubt each other's ideas. "It's so important to support each other's goals and actively care, rather than just talk about caring," says Berniker. Just because something may seem impossible now doesn't mean it can't become a reality down the road.
Have fun with your bucket list and make it into a scrapbook. This will come in especially handy when you jot down an idea on a scrap piece of paper while on your way to work, or when you find yourself pining over a Tahitian vacation while browsing through a travel magazine (just tear out the page and stick it your scrapbook). Encourage your partner to do the same. Images act as a great motivator and have the ability to influence us on many levels.
Living in the modern age, we are consumed with responsibilities – and if kids are part of the equation, life is even more complex. We're often in a rush, tired and overwhelmed, so it's vital to keep your couple's bucket list organized. Divide your goals into categories. They can be as simple as things to do on a Saturday night together and restaurants, to visit to more extreme categories such as ultimate adventures and places to travel. Here are some other ideas for categorizing your bucket list: spontaneous fun, romantic endeavors, couple's hobbies, sporty escapades and ways to surprise each other.
The next step is to number all of the items under each category. It is up to you as a couple how you want to organize your list. It can be in order of easiest to achieve to hardest, most subtle to most daring, etc. The idea is to have an easy to read, concise list.
Manage your bucket list
Both you and your partner should treat your bucket list as if it was your mutual day planner. Keep it in a visible spot to inspire and motivate yourselves. Consult the scrapbook weekly, add new ideas to it and check off the items as you complete them. The sense of satisfaction knowing the two of you have accomplished mutual goals will inspire you to add new items and give you the motivation as a couple, to take a leap of faith towards the more extreme goals.
This is perhaps the most important. Money, time and, for some, kids, will be hurdles to overcome in achieving all of your goals as a couple. The best thing you can do is sit down together and plot out each goal separately. For instance, if you plan on hiking the Rocky Mountains, you'll need to figure out what training and permits are required, the equipment you'll need, the best time of year to hike and the trails you want to take. Once you have all of that information, set a date by which you plan to accomplish this – and stick to the deadline!
To get you started here are some ideas:
- Go to a basketball game together
- Get a couples massage
- Eat at a restaurant you can't afford
- Sneak in backstage at a concert
- Run a race together
- Skydive together
- Go whitewater rafting together
- Go to Costa Rica for New Year's Eve
- Renew your vows in Las Vegas
- Go on a real African safari
Focus on what you want to do together, not what you think is out of reach. If you find yourself wondering what to buy your partner for their birthday or where to take them for your anniversary, refer to the bucket list for a multitude of ideas that you know both of you will enjoy. And for those who say they don't have the time, Berniker has three words for you: Divorce takes longer.
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