Many of us have very specific criteria that we work from when choosing a mate. We might swoon for our partner\’s looks, their attitude, their work ethic, or even their work! When we first meet someone, we may even consider that we have a lot of things in common: where we went to school, a same hometown, an enjoyment of cheesy movies. But what about the long-term? After we have formed the initial relationship, many of us worry about ways to strengthen our relationship and become closer to our partners. While the basis of every good relationship is love and respect, these can only take you so far when you\’ve run out of things to talk about.

Instead of longing for the early days of your relationship when you had a multitude of things to talk about, try building a new friendship with your partner! Spending quality time together is the best way to strengthen bonds, renew excitement about your relationship, and truly get to know your partner as the person they are now. Quality time doesn\’t necessarily mean it\’s time to sit on the sofa and flip through photo albums. Many couples have decided to interpret this idea as taking up a hobby together. In fact, some studies show that sharing a hobby with your partner increases the success rate of a relationship! Shared hobbies help couples increase the level of intimacy and understanding. Some couples even cite that their hobby helped them cope with everyday stress and major life changes with greater ease and less conflict!

Of course there is no one magic activity that will be right for every relationship. You should decide on the new activity with your partner. Take time to discuss what you both are interested in. For example, if you and your partner are both crafty, you might want to take up a new craft project or even start a small renovation project in your home. If you\’re both bookworms, take your hobby search to the library! You might decide on having your own in-home book club. If both you and your partner are interested in getting into better shape, you might take up running or biking together; fitness related hobbies have the added benefit of an improved physique for you and your partner!

While many couples who play together, stay together, most would advise to steer clear of hobbies that invoke too much competition. This is definitely true if one or both partners are highly competitive, and might take a low-score too personally. A “no score zone” helps ensure that both partners are having fun and helps to keep resentment and embarrassment out of the bonding experience.

Next time you start feeling like you and your partner have nothing to talk about, don\’t go off with friends or try to entertain yourself. Talk to them about ways that you can spend more time together, and grow with each other. Discuss ways that you can have more fun together. After all, wouldn\’t it be wonderful to be married to your best friend?