Shared Hobbies: How They Help Keep the Spark Alive

Beyond a healthy relationship, hobbies also reduce stress and offer numerous health benefits (especially if you choose active options). And, if you’re willing to explore totally new experiences, you’ll push yourself creatively and physically.

Ready to get started? We’ve found a handful of engaging hobbies that both men and women will find enjoyable and challenging. Don’t limit yourself, though. Anything that engages you and your mate will help your relationship and your mental state.  

Strike a Pose

Dancing meets marriage and family therapist Bret Atkinson’s criteria of an activity that brings couples closer (literally) and invites playfulness. Plenty of local dance studios and even some health clubs offer lessons for those who need help getting started. You’ll get a great workout while learning how to two-step or tango, and classes offer the opportunity to meet new friends. What you’ll need: A good pair of shoes and a little bit of rhythm. What you’ll get: The ability to sweep each other off your feet during the next summer wedding season.

Tee It Up

Golf is the great equalizer. It doesn’t matter how strong or big you are, if you can’t consistently make the ball go where you want (and few can), you’re going to have your ups and downs. That’s what makes it the perfect sport for couples. It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise (ditch the cart, lazybones). And, if you’re willing to keep the mood light and take some ribbing from each other, golf isn’t stressful. What you’ll need: Golf clubs and lots and lots of patience. What you’ll get: A good suntan, toned legs, and fodder to embarrass each other at your next dinner party.

Power a Flower

Orchid enthusiasts warn gardeners to stay away from the exotic, delicate plants. No, most varieties aren’t that difficult to grow for green thumbers, but they are addictive. People become obsessed with coaxing the finicky plants to bloom—that’s what makes growing them the perfect couple hobby. There are literally thousands of different orchids. They come in every color imaginable. Some smell intoxicatingly sweet. Others smell like rotting meat (seriously). Some feature intricate, seemingly fragile blooms. Others are stout, strong, and even hang from the wall. There’s so much ground to cover that you’re not likely to get bored as you search out new finds to cultivate. What you’ll need: A green thumb, basic gardening utensils, and friends (you’ll have to give some away as you find new favorites). What you’ll get: Beautiful home decorations that visitors will think you paid hundreds of dollars for.

Get Wet

For the adventurous, consider scuba diving. You’ll need proper training and certification, of course, but you can rent gear as easily as you can buy it. You’ll see some of the most breathtaking views in the world while learning to take calculated risks that pay big dividends. What you’ll need: Proper training, equipment, and a lack of claustrophobia and selachophobia (that’s the fear of sharks to you and me). What you’ll get: Schools of fish dancing around you and pictures of your mate in a wet suit.

Capture the Moment

Photography is all things to all people. For those who like know all the technical details, there are amazingly complex SLR models that let you control everything from the film speed to how long the shutter stays open. If you’re more interested in making sure you get the artistic composition down, today’s digital models do all the background work for you. Whether you’re a city girl who likes to hunt for the real face of the city or a guy who looks to capture nature in all its raw glory, photography can be your outlet. Its flexibility is what makes it a great couple hobby. And you don’t have to love it for the same reason. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. Two people never see a scene the same way. Later, in the darkroom or on the computer monitor, you can argue over who best found the essence of the subject. What you’ll need: A couple of cameras, processing software (or darkroom equipment), and plenty of memory storage. What you’ll get: Great scenes to discuss, the ability to see life from new angles, original artwork for your walls (we’ll let you decide whose shots get printed).

Take a Hike

Hiking is the rare hobby that can be anything to anyone. Looking for a stress-free, relatively low-impact way to get fit? Try hiking. Want to spend some alone time in a beautiful setting? Consider hiking. Want a hobby that can be done just about year-round in most areas? Think about hiking. You get the idea. Hiking provides plenty of time for couples to unwind, talk about life, and experience the world around them. It’s also dirt cheap, which never hurts. What you’ll need: Sturdy boots, a backpack filled with essentials (map, compass, water, etc.), and a camera to snap photos of cute critters. What you’ll get: A healthy heart, lungs, and legs; plenty of opportunities for hand holding; and probably a few mosquito bites—sorry, but it’s probably best we warn you now  

Read more from our Marriage Special Section in the November 2010 issue of SUCCESS.

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