Use This Bingo Card of Seasonal Dates and Activities To Boost Your Bond With Your Partner

Photo: Getty Images/laflor
Maintaining a healthy, happy partnership takes work, but it also should include play. While serious conversations certainly have their place in deepening a connection, simply having fun goes a long way as well. Anything that encourages partners to make time for each other, like a bingo card of dates and activities, helps boost your bond and strengthening your relationship.

Released by The Gottman Institute and available for download to subscribers of its Love Notes newsletter, the Spring Relationship Bingo card featured below lends couples a guide to build and strengthen their relationships in a fun way that doesn't feel like work.

Experts In This Article

How tools like a relationship bingo card help you bond with your partner

"Over time couples tend to lose some of the fun and playfulness in a their relationship because they may feel stuck in a rut of their daily ritual of work, and kids, and schedules, so this is really a way to bring some of that back," says certified Gottman Institute couples therapist Kimberly Panganiban, LMFT. The key to really build intimacy and strong bonds, she says, is to keep that playfulness and fun alive alongside the more serious aspects of partnership that deal with conflict and areas of concern or disagreement.

"Over time couples tend to lose some of the fun and playfulness in a their relationship because they may feel stuck in a rut of their daily ritual of work, and kids, and schedules, so this is really a way to bring some of that back."—couples therapist Kimberly Panganabian, LMFT

The Gottman Method recommends couples strengthen their bond by addressing three key components that comprise a healthy partnership: friendship, creation of shared meaning, and conflict management. Maybe it sounds intimidating to try to hit each of these regularly, but they're not all discrete boxes, according to Panganabian. "Anytime you're working on one [area], you're really working on all of them because they all sort of impact the others," she says. "So the more you're making time for fun and playfulness and that connection and building that friendship, then the easier it's going be to navigate conflict when that hits, which improves the sense of shared meaning."

To reach BINGO on the card, which is embedded below, couples have to try a sampling of activities that address all three of these components. It features a variety of activities designed to increase connection such as: date ideas, conversation starters, and suggestions for physical intimacy. The seasonal activities, like having a picnic together, provide ideas to keep date night fresh.

Photo: The Gottman Institute/Gottman Inc.

Increasing the positivity in your relationship is key for strong, lasting bonds, according to Gottman couples therapist Laura Silverstein, LCSW, owner and clinical director of Main Line Counseling Partners and author of Love Is an Action Verb: Stop Wasting Time and Delight in Your Relationship. She says that incorporating these kind of games helps make sure both partners associate the relationship with positivity and happiness. "We're not in a relationship to solve problems and do homework," says Silverstein, "we're in one to be with a person we love to be with."

So what's the best way to use relationship building tools, like this bingo card?

Take cues from the mixed assortment of activities present on the card: Think of your relationship like a balanced meal, which requires both pleasure and nutrients. You don't want to just go on dates or trips without having any moments for deeper conversation or connection, and you wouldn't want to only focus on conflict management without ever doing anything fun and pleasurable. According to Panganabian and Silverstein, it's key to make time for a bunch of different bonding opportunities.

Follow the card for ideas, but Panganabian and Silverstein say you should feel free to use it as inspiration and a jumping off point to create your own ways to bond. For example, Silverstein likes having her couples play a game called "appreciation ping pong," which requires couples to go back and forth (like you're hitting a ping pong ball) by exchanging what she calls "compliments without caveats."

For example, one partner could start by saying something like, "I appreciate that you make me laugh," while the other could respond with: "You're a great cook." The goal? "You want to work as a team to see how long you can keep going, or how long you can keep the ping pong ball in the air," says Silverstein.

While many of the actions on the card would feel great at any time of year, incorporate seasonal activities to avoid repeating the same things and to take advantage of the calendar, says Panganabian; for example, she recommends planning a way to get near the water, whether a pool or beach, with your partner to take advantage of the warm weather and onset of summer.

Another activity you could try to take advantage of seasonality? Turn this into your own ritual, and sit down with your partner each season to outline what you're most looking forward to—and solidify plans to do those activities—to give both of you something to be excited about and a chance to work together, says Silverstein.

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