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The Importance of Adventure as a Married Couple
I’m a Christian mental heath therapist. I work with married couples from all walks of life and in various stages of their marriage. Some of the couples are wanting to focus on addressing situational issues. Other couples are fighting tooth and nail to keep their marriage a float.
Therapy can be hard to go through. Marriage counseling is even harder. As the therapist, I am asking couples to identify their own past wounds, faulty logic, and vulnerabilities. Then we have to see how those issues coming together are causing problems. It takes work. Obviously the payoff can be huge though!
One of the recommendations that I give couples seeing me for therapy is to have an adventure together. An adventure is not going to solve their problems but it will help them feel connected and create positive memories.
I explain it in terms of a bank account. If you as a couple are struggling and strained and having arguments you are withdrawing from the account. You can only withdraw so many times before your account is going to go negative. You need some deposits in the account to keep it from going red!
Adventure as a married couple is important and can increase connection!
Adventure increases dopamine
Dopamine is a chemical that gets released when we experience something exciting. It can be physical activities, exercise, sex, risk taking, thrill seeking etc. When a person experiences an increased level of dopamine you feel invigorated, a sense of alive, and engaged in the world.
Wouldn’t that experience be good to have with your spouse!?
Going on an adventure with your spouse increases the connect to that person because our brain also connects the increase in dopamine to that them. And whether you are having marital issues or not, having your brain connect your spouse to feelings of invigoration, a sense of being alive and feeling engaged in the world is a good thing!
Men desire adventure
All little boys at sometime or another played cops and robbers, good guys and bad guys, superheros, knights and dragons. They all have one thing in common – overcoming adversity! Succeeding! Winning the challenge!
Then somewhere down the road that desire and passion can get lost. The themes of protect and provide turns into careers and budgeting. And it loses the adventure. Unless a raise was involved, I don’t know many men who get an increase in dopamine while doing the budget!
Men want to experience the thrill of excitement! They also want to do those things with their spouse. As long as the spouse is willing and not dragging her feet! (I can’t stress how important that is!!) Men want to show off. Think about the animal kingdom. God made the male creatures more colorful and vibrant than the female to show off and win the affection of the female creature. Do we really think humans are much different in this way?
Our men also have a desire to protect and save. Think of the games boys played. There usually was a girl to rescue! This is not because boys think girls can’t do anything it is because boys want to be important to the girls! Our husbands want to be important to us and they want to protect us!
John Eldredge wrote the book Wild at Heart. It is the best book I have ever read to explain a man’s heart! It explains this desire for adventure far better than I could dream to in this post. I highly recommend the book for both husbands and wives to read.
Women yearn to be a part of an adventure
Remember the games boys play? Little girls love to be the one rescued! But then they want to fight right along side them! I see this theme over and over again with my son (age 7) and my daughter (age 4). She initially gets taken by the enemy, bad guy, dragon, etc. and then brother has to fight to rescue her. Once rescued, he hands over one of his weapons to her and they fight side by side until the adversary is defeated. They love it! And I love watching it!
It is so true of a woman’s heart. We want to be sought after and desired. Women want to know we are important enough to be protected. And then we want to help! We want to show our value, too! John and Staci Eldredge wrote the book Captivating. It is my #1 recommended book for my female clients and their husbands to explore and understand the desires of a woman’s heart.
Going on an adventure with your husband allows this desire to take place.
My husband and I went backpacking in Yellowstone when our son was about two. We sent him to the grandparents and we drove from Northern Wisconsin to Yellowstone. To have more time in the park we even drove through the night. We hiked to each of our camping sites and stayed four nights in the woods.
It was amazing to have four days with just my husband and no other distractions beside the beautiful nature all around.
And their is risk involved. There are grizzly bears in Yellowstone. There are also rattle snakes and the potential of mountain lions. To cook you have to make sure you are down wind from your tent. You also cook separate from where you store your food, which is also away from your tent. The food you pack should also be in an dry bags to keep the elements out but also to reduce the smell. It is also a good idea to not sleep in the clothes you were cooking in.
Adventure is subjective
You may be reading this and thinking there is no way I would go backpacking in Yellowstone for four nights! That’s okay. Your kind of adventure doesn’t have to be what my husband and I do. It doesn’t have to be the same thing your friends or neighbors do. Find adventure that you and your spouse enjoy together.
Adventure as a married couple also doesn’t have to be only outdoor activities. I have known couples who find excitement and adventure in going to auctions or antique stores. One couple were avid readers and collectors of first addition books. Their adventure was scouring through old used bookstores for priceless and signed additions. Some couples are collectors of agates.
My husband and I also enjoy geocaching. It’s like a big treasure hunt all over the world. You use a handheld GPS and plug in the coordinates to find the cache. There’s not the level of risk as going backpacking in the woods but it’s an adventure. I get to help my husband find the treasure! You are not finding anything of value, sometimes little trinkets, and other times the cache is so small it only fits a slip of paper to sign so you can brag you found it. It’s about the time together and the challenge of completing the task.
In closing, adventure as a couple is not going to fix your marital issues. But adventure does increase your connection to your spouse! Adding to your connection as a couple is important at any stage of your marriage!
I sincerely pray that this post finds you and your spouse exactly when you need it!
For more information about marriages check out Why 50/50 marriages don’t work and When you put your marriage first the whole family wins.