Do you and your spouse share any common activities or hobbies? Or is spending time together limited to meals, special occasions and random encounters? If you have been married for a while your activities may have changed over time leaving very little in common. And while that may not be any cause for panic, it is a good idea to find a few activities that the two of you can share together.

Choosing couple activities can be tricky, though. This article will provide some guidelines to help you avoid the most common pitfalls. We’ll begin with some ground rules and then move into some examples of good and bad ideas for couple activities.

Ground Rules:

Do not chose an activity that is too competitive – This rule will eliminate most sporting events such as tennis or golf. In case you haven’t noticed, men hate to lose. Many men would rather take an injury to end a game than to lose a game. This would not be a problem except that women are usually just as competitive – often in a passive, subtle way. My wife, who is usually very giving and caring for others, enjoys nothing more than beating me at a game or activity. Her enjoyment grows greater with the margin of defeat.

Do not chose an activity that involves animals – This rule should be self explanatory. (And, no, I’m not just scarred from the bunny incident.)

Discouraged Activities:

Competitive sports (tennis, basketball, baseball/softball, etc.) – As mentioned earlier these activities are too competitive to be healthy for a relationship. Either the wife will end up losing every time (possibly even intentionally) or the husband will end up with an injury which ends the game and postpones future activities indefinitely.

Shopping – While shopping helps to eliminate the competition issue, it presents challenges of its own. The chief problem is that men and women usually have different goals for shopping. For most men shopping is about getting what you need as quickly as you can. For most women shopping is an expression of tastes and styles – much more than just the items which are being purchased.

Suggested Activities:

NASCAR – As long as you both have heads that swivel back and forth on your neck you can both watch cars drive in a circle around a track. These events are also quite noisy, eliminating the awkward conversation requirement of many other activities. In fact, if you wish to communicate, you will need to yell at each other. This is about the only time you get to yell at your spouse without causing problems. (“I’m going to the rest room! I’ll be right back!”) It combines all the best parts of marriage while avoiding the “mushy stuff.”

Concerts – If you can find musical acts that you both enjoy, concerts can provide a great opportunity for couple activities. One word of advice to the ladies, though, before you get to the concert remind us that we can’t dance. If you fail to remind us of this critical fact, we cannot be held responsible for any embarrassment that may arise.

Hiking – While running or jogging can sometimes get too competitive, hiking rarely breeds competition. In addition to being a healthy activity, hiking can inspire a sense of wonder at this amazing planet we inhabit. Hiking also makes a great couple activity because men need someone to read a map. Since asking directions or reading maps conflicts with our innate sense of direction, hiking alone is not advisable for men.

But seriously: Do you and your spouse have activities that you can enjoy together? Having your own hobbies and interests are great, but take some time to intentionally do things together. How we spend our time says a lot about what we value. What message are you sending your spouse about how much they are valued?