How to stop stress ruining your quality time together

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Sometimes worries and angry feelings can make relaxing difficult. Even if the issues you’re upset about don’t have anything to do with your partner, negative emotions like these can really get in the way of spending quality time with each other.

Whether you’re annoyed about work, money, family, or political issues, it can sometimes be difficult to switch off from these feelings to be able to enjoy the company of your other half. It can be tempting instead to spend your time together constantly turning over the issues at hand, even when the course of action that needs to be taken is clear to you both. The result is often that you finish your couple time even more wound up about the issues than you did beforehand. Quality couple time has become anything but.

We’ve sometimes had this kind of problem ourselves over the years. Now, though, we’ve figured out a way to stop our couple time being wasted in this way: the venting strategy.

How to vent

If one of us is worried or annoyed about something, the rule is that he or she has a set period of time to vent about the issue. The other partner listens, and then the two of us talk – again for a set period of time – about what can be done to address the problem. Once we’ve done that, the topic is out of bounds for further discussion. For the rest of the time we spend together, we make a conscious effort to talk about something else, ideally something positive and uplifting.

This strategy has generally worked well for us. When one of us is annoyed or upset about something, our couple time becomes an opportunity to take a break from the worries for the partner who is upset. Afterwards, he or she generally feels more relaxed and better able to handle whatever it is that is causing the worry. Why not give this strategy a go in your relationship and see how it works for you? Let us know how you get on!


Create great memories on a budget

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We were lucky last week and had the whole week off work, so we spent a lot of really nice family time together.

We could have easily just played everything by ear, like we used to in the days before becoming parents. In those days, we would often wake up too late to do any major outings, or we would set off too close to lunchtime, which would usually mean that half of the trip would be spent in a restaurant or trying to get a snack from somewhere.

These days, we plan ahead. We sat down at the beginning of the week and planned several activities that we would enjoy. Our son probably won’t be too keen to come with us on our trips in 5 years’ time (when he is a teenager), so we’re trying to create as many nice holiday memories together now as we can. Plus, we read a number of articles recently that emphasised that time spent together on holiday is much more important than previously thought.

We have been making a lot more effort for our couple-only days off too!

It’s all about quality time, not length of holiday or (thankfully) cost. Here are some activities that work well either for couples or for the whole family:

  • If you’re in the U.K., you could go on a National Trust day out. You can get unlimited access to historic properties for about £100 per year (family membership).
  • Visit a zoo or aquarium (online pre-booking helps to keep down the cost).
  • Going swimming or bowling together (if you go often, a monthly or annual membership will reduce the cost).
  • Playing board games – try to find games which appeal to the kids and to the parents. Cluedo and Monopoly are firm favourites here!
  • Going for countryside walks together. Plan a proper picnic if you like, or stop at a village pub somewhere for a snack.
  • Planning nice meals. If money is tight, go through cookery books or websites together and plan some special meals that won’t break the bank. Then cook together, if that’s fun for you all. Restaurant meals out can also be a special treat (try vouchercloud to keep a lid on costs).
  • Go for a Youth Hostel They have family rooms and many special offers. We stayed at St Briavel Castle (yes, a real castle) last year, which was great fun.
  • Download a treasure hunt app and go hunting nearby (e.g. Huntzz).

We hope some of these ideas work for you – let us know how you get on!


#LoveChallenge week…so, how did it go?

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In our busy lives, it’s often hard to make time for each other, so last week we hosted our own #lovechallenge week on our Couple Karma Facebook and Twitter pages. Hope it was fun for you – we would love your feedback! Of course, we also try to follow our own advice…so, how did we do? (And no, we were not perfect!)

Love challenge 1: playing a board game or video game with your partner

Verdict: ermm…. not a great start to the #lovechallenge week! That day, we couldn’t play a game in the evening as I came home late from work and had to rush off to my reading group. However, we made time to play ‘Trivial Pursuit’ the next day instead. It was actually quite a lot of fun.

Love challenge 2: switching off the phone/social media and giving your partner your full attention

Verdict: success! We took a conscious break from TV/ our social media channels for a while. It felt very relaxing and good to just have some time together without any interruptions.

Love challenge 3: giving your partner a relaxing massage

Verdict: success! We actually made time for this on a few evenings last week as we both had pretty stressful days. It worked really well and we slept better as a result. For good and free advice on how to give a proper neck/shoulder/body massages, why not have a look in your local library for ‘teach yourself’ books or DVDs, or check out YouTube. You can also make your own massage oil: we use almond or olive oil with a few drops of lavender essential oil.

Love challenge 4: hide a love note for your partner to find

Verdict: partial success! Charlie hid a love note in my pillow case, which was very sweet. Unfortunately, I completely forgot. :-/ However, I will hide one in the next few days, when he’ll least suspect it.

Love challenge 5: do a household chore your partner doesn’t like doing

Verdict: success. Charlie doesn’t like cooking or cleaning, so I tend to cook every day and I also deep-cleaned the kitchen. In return, Charlie did the bins and general tidying and hoovering (which I don’t like). Result.

Love challenge 6: prepare your loved one’s favourite meal or takeaway dish

Verdict: success. As Charlie hates cooking, I made one of his favourite dishes, chilli con carne (with lots of coriander).  Check out this recipe. 🙂 All good!

Love challenge 7: give your partner a sincere compliment today, and reward them with a kiss that lasts longer than 5 seconds

Verdict: success! We both helped each other out that day (Charlie helped me finish a guest blog post, and I did a lot of social media work for Couple Karma and Charlie’s new app, Rugby Vote), so we were both thankful for this (and told each other!). The kiss wasn’t bad either! 😉

So, all in all, a pretty good #lovechallenge week, and something we will do again soon. Hope you enjoyed it too! See you next week. x

Join us for #LoveChallenge Week and new feature on our app!

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This coming week (3rd – 9th April) we’ll host our own #lovechallenge week on our Couple Karma Facebook and Twitter pages. We’d love you to join us and take the daily love challenge. It won’t take much time or money, but we guarantee that it’ll brighten up your partner’s (and your) week. 🙂

In other news, we’ve added a ‘Need Inspiration?’ button onto our Couple Karma app, which will guide you to our ’50 Top Wishes’ post. Hope this will help narrow down which wishes you’d like your partner to fulfil.

See you next week!