5 (semi-cheesy) Team Building Activities for You + Your Honey
We often frame relationships as “work”. We say things like “relationships are hard” and “relationships take a lot of work”. These things are true, but ‘work’ need not mean only doing an arduous task without enjoyment in order to accomplish a particular result. The ‘work’ that goes into relationships can be fun and enlivening. Here are five team building activities for couples, designed to do the ‘work’ of strengthening your relationship in entertaining ways.
Minefield is an obstacle course game in which partners must get to the other side of a landscape littered with various items (“landmines”) which they cannot step on, brush up against, or touch in any way. The catch is that one partner is blindfolded, while the other guides them through the minefield…without touching them. The guide can use only their voice to usher their partner through the obstacle course.
For best results, have someone else set the course. The area you will traverse should ideally be at least 20 feet (5 meters) long. There should be enough obstacles to necessitate turning and maneuvering in various directions; it should not be possible to merely walk in a straight line through the course.
Decide who will be blindfolded first and who will be the guide, and time yourselves. Don’t discuss anything first–dive right into the activity! If the blindfolded partner accidentally touches any of the objects in the minefield, they must start again from the beginning of the course. Don’t reset the timer if this happens; keep it running. After the first person has traversed the minefield and come out the other side successfully, switch places.
After you have both had a chance to guide and be blindfolded, stop and debrief the activity by discussing the following questions:
-What did we do well?
-What can we do better next time?
-What strategy do we want to use?
Repeat this exercise one or two more times and see if you can beat your previous time with each attempt. It’s the most fun and even more thought-provoking if you play it with one or two more couples. When you can watch others cross the minefield, you gain perspective by observing what communication mistakes they make and what they do well.
Here are some benefits of playing Minefield:
-Being blindfolded while relying on your partner to guide you safely through an uncertain landscape enhances trust.
-Making mistakes and bumping into objects, or being inefficient, highlights communication weak spots + gives you a chance to improve them on the next attempt. This is extremely good practice for higher-stakes scenarios.
-Beating your previous time gives you a sense of shared accomplishment.
-Allowing yourself to be guided trains you to accept influence from your spouse and share decision-making power (Plett, 2014); this is one of the foundations of a happy marriage (Gottman, 2015).
Two Truths and a Lie
Think of two things your partner doesn’t already know about you + one thing that sounds true, but is actually a lie. Say all three, then take turns guessing which one is the lie. This is Two Truths and a Lie relationship edition.
This simple game is an interesting way to find out things you don’t yet know about each other, especially when you’ve reached a phase of the relationship in which you feel like you know each other very well. You might be surprised how much you have left to learn (Plett, 2014).
It can also help you to reflect on and give attention to parts of yourself that aren’t normally center stage in your relationship. Different people bring out different sides of us, and it’s natural that some aspects of our personalities will not play a big role in our romantic relationship. This game is a good way to shed light on them. Similarly, it creates an opportunity to share aspects of yourself which you may have always wanted to share with your partner, but never really found the right conditions.
Tie your right arm behind your back and instruct your partner to tie their left arm behind their back. You now have two free hands total between the two of you which you may use to complete the following tasks (Plett, 2014):
-Make a sandwich
-Fold a paper airplane
-Tie a shoe (Plett, 2014)
Between each task, stop to debrief the activity and strategize for the next task, much like in between rounds of Minefield (above). Be prepared to laugh a lot!
This game is especially good for enhancing creative problem solving abilities together. We have all had the experience of turning against our partner in the face of problems that arise. Tied-up challenge trains you to respond to problems as a team, rather than as adversaries. Like minefield, it gives you practice that will prime you to react collaboratively in more difficult real-life situations.
36 Questions that Lead to Love
Psychologist Arthur Aron and a few of his colleagues conducted a famous experiment in 1997 in which they attempted to manufacture feelings of closeness between complete strangers. They had strangers ask one another three sets of questions (totaling 36) that increased in vulnerability with each set. Their hypothesis was that mutual vulnerability leads to closeness (Jones, 2015). Unsurprisingly, they found that closeness after the task was completed was enhanced in pairs who went through the 36 questions compared with a control group in which pairs made small talk. Getting away from your usual everyday banter by doing this activity as a couple will yield similar results.
Being vulnerable has other benefits aside from enhancing closeness. It also increases our chances of having needs met, heightens feelings of authenticity and worth, and opens you up to being truly loved for who you are, to name just a few (Pace, 2020). What other benefits of being vulnerable with your partner can you think of?
Going through these 36 relationship questions together with your partner is an excellent way to increase and normalize not only vulnerability but also intimacy and closeness between the two of you, and learn more about yourself and each other in the process.\
Brainstorm words and situations that get the two of you thinking about positive memories (Plett, 2014) and write them down on little pieces of paper which will be crumpled up and thrown in a hat. For example, if you love to cuddle while watching How I Met Your Mother together, write down ‘How I Met Your Mother’ on one of the papers. You should each think of 8 words or short phrases.
Next, take turns picking papers from the hat. The person whose turn it is can use words to give clues, but without using any of the words in the hat. If you got engaged at Niagara Falls and you get a paper which reads “Niagara Falls”, you might say “the place where we got engaged!” and then when your partner shouts out “Niagara Falls!” you can drop the paper to the floor and pick another. You have one minute to go through as many papers as possible before switching places. See how fast you can collectively go through all the papers.
When you’ve completed all 16 prompts, it’s time for round two, in which you can only mime or draw things (no writing!) and cannot speak. Re-use the same papers with the same prompts, but wordlessly. For example, you might draw the place where you went on your first date, mime an inside joke, or act out your engagement.
This relationship-centric brand of pictionary/charades helps you to reinforce shared meaning, get high off good memories, and rejoice in the symbols and rituals that make your relationship one of a kind.
Play these games when you feel the need to reconnect, either during or after your prenup agreement discussions, or even just when you have a rainy night in and nothing to do. Activities like these can remind us to bring a sense of lightness to our relationships while preparing us to work as a team when life sends us challenges.
Gottman, John. 2015. The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work: A practical guide from the international bestselling relationship expert.
Jones, D. 2015. The 36 Questions That Lead to Love. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/09/style/no-37-big-wedding-or-small.html
Pace, R. 2020. 16 Powerful Benefits of Vulnerability in Relationships. Retrieved from: https://www.marriage.com/advice/relationship/benefits-of-vulnerability-in-relationships/#16_Benefits_of_vulnerability_in_relationships
Plett, C. 2014. 7 Team-Building Games for a Winning Marriage. Retrieved from: https://www.focusonthefamily.ca/content/7-team-building-games-for-a-winning-marriage