Four years ago I hopped on a plane in Chicago and left on a great adventure—a cross-cultural exchange in the Netherlands.
This experience shaped and changed me. It took a small town girl from South Dakota and allowed me to see the world differently, and for the better. I traveled all over Western Europe, soaking in cities, monuments, historical sites, legendary artwork, castles and the list goes on.
This experience was the highlight of my 20’s, so far.
It is easy to romanticize my European experience and see it as my life’s greatest adventure—to talk about it as “the good old days” and long to escape back into a similar experience. My husband wasn’t there with me, and although he listens to my endless stories that find their way into everyday conversations, I know he wishes he could re-create an experience like that with me.
Sure, we would love to hop on the next plane out of town and roam through Europe for four months, but adulthood beckons. We have college loans, rent, and real jobs that don’t encourage four-month sabbaticals. With travel and adventure streaming through my blood, sometimes I feel trapped.
I desire adventure and travel and have been thinking a lot about how my husband and I can create experiences like this without breaking the bank or even leaving the country.
Instead of thriving off the past, how can we create new experiences that will burn in my memory four years later the way my exchange program does?
A friend of mine recently suggested a great idea: try something new each month.
Dates can get mundane…see a movie, go to dinner, play a board game and the like. Why not make an active effort to switch things up and add some adventure and culture to your marriage, despite being “stuck” in your current circumstances?
Here are a few ideas to start:
- Try an ethnic restaurant neither of you have been to. After dinner, watch a movie or documentary that takes place in that country’s origin. Google the country- look up pictures, fun facts and YouTube videos. Sometimes it just feels good to learn something new. You can add it to your useless repertoire of information for a future Trivial Pursuit battle, or add it to a list of places you want to visit and start saving your pennies.
- Take a class. My husband and I live in a college town and try to keep track of what the college has going on for free activities. A few months ago we saw they were offering free swing dancing classes. I coaxed my husband into attending the “community” event, but when we arrived we were they only people above 20. After learning some sweet moves, dancing awkwardly with random college kids, and getting probed to have our picture taken for the college paper, this was a pretty memorable night.
There are many other types of classes you could take: pottery, rock climbing, cooking, beer tasting/brewing, tennis, ToastMasters, etc… Learning something new together creates a shared experience and can build common interests, or at times, disinterests.
- Travel. This doesn’t require taking a week off work and flying across the world. Wherever you live, there are new places to explore within a few hours drive. Google top things to do in your city and state, make a list and start crossing them off.
If it is financially feasible, start saving up for a trip to a place you both want to visit and actually make it happen. So often we go through life thinking we will do the things we want eventually, but they are constantly shrugged off or forgotten. Make an effort to write down the adventures you want to take as a couple, big or small, and create plans to make them happen. Sometimes planning is half the fun. We already have our future European vacation planned out, making it tangible and easy to save for.
What are some ways you have found to make adventure a part of your marriage?