Complacency vs. Contentment Round 2: Change up the Routine

In the post-holiday blues it’s easy to get in a pattern, used to a norm. Luke and I have begun to settle into a routine of married life. We ask the same questions to catch up at the end of everyday, get similar answers eat dinner, or exercise then eat, then watch TV, prep for the next day and go to bed.

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On some of the harder days that is perfect, just to rest and relax with each other is enough. But there is a fine line between a sense of contentment and complacency in our everyday lives and sometimes a thankful perspective is not enough on its own. (see Contentment vs complacency: thankfulness)

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Sometimes changing up our quality time interactions helps break up monotony. It’s easy for us to  get stuck in a pattern of Netflix and online catch up on TV shows until bed.  Although there is nothing wrong with this, if we only ever stick to one means of quality time then we can get complacent. Luke and I recognize that we always want to give to each other in all areas including those often neglected such as: intellectually and spiritually. So what does that look like for us ? Options we like do to include:

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Play Video Games/ Board or Card Games: Video Games offer some intellectual competition, or collaboration, as we communicate to figure out how to solve a puzzle, use the Xbox Kinect to act like fools dancing in the living room, or play superheros fighting “the bad guys”. Board and card games lead us to some great interaction as well, especially when we share/learn a favorite game of the other persons. (see The Game Chest).

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Read: It may seem like an individual activity but when I am reading, even if it is a fictional book, questions, thoughts, what if . ..  discussions come to mind and if I share them with Luke a great discussion can come up or vice versa.

Another option is to read the same book and share our thoughts. Or create a list of  books and/or movies that one of us has read and the other hasn’t. Books or movies have a large influence/impact on our lives. Creating then sharing a list of the favorites  is insightful into each other’s lives and place in life when the other person first read/was it and can bring up some good discussion.

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Listen to a lecture, talk, or sermon:  It doesn’t always have to be purely “academic” or “spiritual”.  Sometimes Luke and I will watch a short documentary on Netflix or watch a Tedtalk about a topic that interests us. Awhile back Luke and I watched a documentary on the history/art of Sushi and another one on Beer both were not only informative but led to some good laughs and discussion about ethics, values, and the big picture.

Pray/Meditate together: Luke and I will sometimes share our concerns/thoughts with each other before praying out loud. Or we will just sit in silence both praying and listening on our own; but together. No matter what you believe about ‘The Divine” we all have noises, thoughts, and voices to quiet in our minds let alone distractions we can see or hear. Getting quiet meditative time together can help lower stress and bring some peace to your mind and therefore your relationship.

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Girls/Guys Night, Small Group, or Couple Dating: Spending time apart or with other couples/ people at the same place in life as you can be just as helpful. Luke goes to a group often on Thursday nights to play a card came and relax. He needs this down time to have some friendly competition with “the guys”. We also will go on “double dates” with couple friends we have out to dinner or on a hike, or to each other’s houses where we drink coffee and play games. Getting time apart or with others make the time we do spend together better.

So there you have it-some great ideas to help change up your routine!!

What do you do to beat the winter blues?

The Game Chest: A Treasure Trove of Good Times

Playing Rummikub with  family at Christmas 2011
Playing Rummikub with family at Christmas 2011

I grew up playing games like Life, Clue, Monopoly, etc. In the summertime when would go camping, we would play Rummikub or Uno by lantern light at the picnic table. With friends in high school and during college study breaks I would play Apples to Apples, and other conversation games. Then I became an English teacher and found games like Taboo, Scrabble, and Catch Phrase to be helpful in teaching communication skills with my classes.

playing apples to apples with college friends 2009
playing apples to apples with college friends 2009

Luke grew up playing a much wider variety of games with his family. His brother and him liked strategy and challenges and got further into the nerdom realm with Dungeons and Dragons, Settlers of Catan, varieties of Risk and of course video and computer gaming. (To give you an idea of the challenge and competition here Luke’s brother Nathan is the teacher for the Chess Club at the school where he teaches in China). Playing games with Luke’s family can not only be challenging for strategy purposes but also because you have to keep up with the loving banter and jokes.

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college group game night

During the time Luke and I were dating we played a lot of games with our friday night college group.  Luke had a bucket-load of games he’d collected over the years and my family added a few extra. It took awhile for me to truly appreciate the value Luke placed on playing games. But with time I learned that from word games, to strategy, to the wacky and weird, playing board games was a great way to connect with friends and get to know new people and their personalities. As time went on, we picked up some games of our own to play with our family, friends and  onour own. So by the time we left SoCal we had a large heavy plastic bin full of dice, cards, boards, and accessories.

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When we moved into our rented home we didn’t want the game bin in the basement so we bought a cedar chest to store our games in which doubles as our living room coffee table.

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It is great place for me to spread out my notes, organizer and computer during the day but it also serves as a perfect spot for playing games at night while sitting on our comfy couches.

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When we open up the game chest there is a small row on top (one of the reasons we bought it to begin with) which we have filled with decks of cards, dice of all shapes and sizes, and any other smaller pieces.

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With a little strategy we have been able to fit more than 28 games inside.

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Fortunately there are plenty of games Luke and I can play together on those nights we want don’t want to veg. in front of the TV or read our books.

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Our current favorite is Dominion, a deck building card came requiring strategy. The object is to play your built deck right to gain enough money to build/ own the most property.

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A favorite cooperative “us vs. the world” game is Pandemic. In different roles such as researcher and paramedic we work together against the board,  fighting to cure four different viruses/diseases before they turn into pandemics and destroy the world.

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A great two person card game we picked up was a variation on Battleship. We play this when we want a quick game with less set up. Luke and I played several rounds to keep us awake waiting for our next connecting red eye flight back from our vacation in May. Instead of a grid each player has face down cards with their ships and misses. With a hand of five cards , each player uses their ammo cards to explore and hit the other players ships or to shield or heal their own.

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Another fav. is Ticket to Ride. This a diverse game great for a large group or for two. You may have seen me playing Ticket to Ride during our vacation in May (see vacation highlights part 2). In this game you are given ticketed routes with the objective to lay railroad track across the country from city to city.  Points are counted in the end by the amount of track each player lays and how many ticketed routes are completed.

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We also have some common large group social games like Apples to Apples, Pit, Jenga, Risk, and Quelf.

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But we also have games for the more nerdy like LOTR, Killer Bunnies and Munchkin.

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To us, this game chest (craftily disquised as our living room coffee table) is a grown-up toy box filled with a treasure trove of memories of past and potential for future good times with friend and family.

What are your favorite games to play? Are you competitive? Who do you like to play gam