‘Tis the season to buy a bunch of stuff, eat a lot and exchange gifts that you likely won’t remember next year.
No, I’m not Scrooge.  In fact, the Christmas season is my favorite time of year, and I think gifts and family meals are fantastic.
However, I’d like to challenge you to think a little differently as we approach this holiday season.  Instead of going through the motions and cruising into the New Year with nothing but a few new things in your possession, why not focus on sharing awesome experiences with your spouse?
Shared experiences bring us closer to our loved ones and positively impact our own lives.  And if we choose the right activities, we might even leave a lasting mark on our neighbors, our community and our world.
And that’s what the Christmas season is really all about, right?

5 Meaningful Experiences for Married Couples

There are a wide variety of meaningful activities that you could pursue over the next few weeks, and I encourage you to talk to your spouse and find something fun that gets you both excited.  If you need some guidance, I’m going to share five of my favorite suggestions for you to consider.
Some of these ideas are focused solely on the couple, some include your whole family if you have children, and several allow you to help others while working together in selfless service.  I would suggest you do what you are comfortable with, but there’s no better feeling than combining forces with your spouse to make a difference in the lives of those who could use a helping hand.
Visit those who need some holiday cheer
Take an afternoon (or several), and simply pay a visit to a local nursing home, hospital, children’s home, shelter or any other place where you’re likely to encounter some lonely folks during the holidays.  I’ve spent enough time in a nursing home visiting my own father to know that the residents there crave attention and love to share even a smile with someone.
You could really make it an all-star experience by passing out small gifts to everyone, but in this case it truly is the thought that counts.  Just pick a day when you would otherwise be shopping and instead spend it being human with those who need a lift.
Take a marriage retreat
If you want to focus on your marriage and reconnect deeply with your spouse, I strongly encourage you to try a quality marriage retreat.  In most cases, a retreat involves getting away for a day or two to spend time together in an intimate setting.  There are many variations, but chances are you can find a great retreat through a local church or by searching online in your area.
My wife and I shared a deeply spiritual and highly rewarding weekend during our first marriage retreat.  In fact, it impacted us in such a real way that we now help facilitate as presenters for other couples.  If you can’t find a retreat or just don’t want to go there yet, simply spend an evening or a weekend away together to take a break from all the hustle and bustle of this season.
Volunteer together to help those in need
There’s no time of the year that needs more enthusiastic volunteers than the Christmas season.  You could help out at a soup kitchen, a needy children’s gift drive, a local food pantry or an organization like the Salvation Army.  I guarantee you’ll find plenty of opportunities to help right in your hometown.
This is perfect if you have children, also.  There is no better way to instill the true “reason for the season” than to work together as a family to bring some comfort and joy to those in need.
Buy gifts and give them away
If you aren’t comfortable getting hands-on in volunteer or visitor settings, you could certainly use your resources to help out by buying gifts for those that won’t otherwise have them.  And you can still connect with your spouse in the process by doing the shopping together and discussing as a family who you would like to support.
Many churches offer “angel giving” or “adopt-a-family” programs that make this really easy, and there’s always the fantastic Toys for Tots organization sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps.  Giving your gifts away is a wonderful way to really get in the spirit of Christmas.
Train together for a fitness challenge
If you’d rather be a little less altruistic but still share an incredible experience with your husband or wife, I’d encourage you to choose a fitness challenge to complete together.  Instead of gaining weight and becoming sedentary between Thanksgiving and Christmas, enjoy training together for an event.
When I recently ran my first 5K with my wife, I was surprised by how much of a bonding experience it was for us.  It’s one of those memories that we will share forever, and it provided a spark for our individual fitness pursuits as well as our intimacy.  You can read more about running with your spouse in my post about about our experience.
So, there are five ideas for ways that you can enjoy this Christmas with your spouse in a new and special way.  In most cases, you can save money and have a lot of fun in the process, all while enhancing your marriage.
Go make this holiday season one that your family will remember forever.  After all, gifts come and go, but memories last forever.

What special holiday experiences have you shared in your marriage?  Please share in the comments!

(photo source)

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