SCOT BELLAVIA: This One Trick Has Enhanced Our Marriage

When I told my friend that my wife and I do a different nightly activity each day of the week, he said, “Whoa, buddy. That’s your business.” When my wife told another friend the same, in less uncertain terms, that friend bet we wouldn’t last two weeks. We’ve been going at it since October.

Our activity plan arose out of “decision fatigue”—a term millennials use to describe the mental exhaustion of having to make choices all day long. It’s an especially first world stressor as it’s most often in reference to having to make the same choice every night: “What show should we watch?”

We ran out of shows we thought were worth our time, but low supply doesn’t stop the habitual user from finding another supplier. So, in a moment of sobriety, we committed to the following schedule. It’s protected us from defaulting to the television and given us something to look forward to after the kids are in bed.

Mondays: read a book together. It’s usually one on marriage or parenting.

Tuesdays: Budget Night. We might crunch a snack while we crunch numbers, to stay motivated.

Wednesdays: a house project or large chore. If it’s a mindless activity, like painting the living room or deep-cleaning the kitchen, we’ll split the AirPods and listen to a podcast.

Thursday: read separately. We’ll sit on the same couch, but we read our own books for pleasure.

Friday: watch a show. My wife works a 12-hour shift on Fridays, so that’s our night to veg out. It’s helped us to choose a sitcom with lots of seasons ahead of time, so we don’t spend the evening choosing what to watch.

Saturday: watch something educational. We’re going through a virtual class taught by Bible Project, an organization that helps people understand the Bible the way its authors meant it to be read. We eat popcorn as we watch this.

Sunday: talk to each other. We’ll talk about the State of the Household, assess our marriage, ask deep and shallow questions, discuss upcoming plans or events.

This schedule is flexible. Recently, it made sense to swap Wednesday and Thursday to what’s listed above. We added popcorn on Saturdays because though the Bible is exciting, an online lecture at 9pm is a sedative. If we are out with friends or the mood hits, we’ll gladly forgo Budget Night for next Tuesday. And when the kids fight bedtime, we’ll do what we can of our activity until we go to bed.

These nightly activities have made us more talkative, productive, and energized—useful adjectives for when we find the night is young and there is time for that other nighttime activity.

– Scot Bellavia

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