Almost all my life, I’ve had these ideas about Things Happy Couples Do. These things are mostly informed by books and movies and obsessively watching people pair off since fifth grade. They do not include things like going to movies and eating out, because these are Things Normal Couples Do.
Here is an illustrative list. You can skip the list if you’ve seen a fair amount of quirky romantic comedies (e.g., 500 Days of Summer, which taught us that Happy Couples bound through Ikea, flopping on beds with impunity and playing house in those tiny rooms) or if you read “couples blogs” (which taught us that Happy Couples eat food that photographs absurdly well and take pictures of their feet).
- Take roadtrips
- Host dinner parties (often themed)
- Go on picnics
- Go paintballing/rock climbing/shooting/skydiving/insert expensive dangerous sport of your choice here
One thing, that’s not that exciting, but that’s been on my list of Things Happy Couples Do for awhile is taking walks. Ever since I moved to Chicago, actually, I’ve watched the couples strolling hand-in-hand, with their to-go coffee cups and their dogs with a twinge of envy. It’s not that Husband and I don’t walk. We walk plenty when we’re on vacation or when we venture downtown or when we go to a restaurant in one of the many areas in Chicago where parking is nigh impossible. Sometimes we even walk with to-go cups in hand.* We don’t walk for the sake of walking, though, and we don’t walk when we can drive (which is why we drive to the grocery store that is .3 miles from our apartment). In fact, part of my eagerness for a dog was due to the fact that it would force us outside and around the neighborhood.
We have a dog now and I think we walk just about as much as a Happy Couple could. Husband’s taken to wandering the neighborhood for 45 minutes to an hour at a time. With my job, I don’t have time to do yoga anymore, but I do have time to walk in the evenings, breathing deep, meditative breaths. Our love for our neighborhood has grown as we’ve started noticing the details carved into the facades of the many aging homes on our street and as we’ve started talking to our neighbors. All this walking has certainly made us a Happier Couple.
The funny thing is, we don’t do any of this walking together. Because it turns out this Happy Couple has to pay the bills and get dinner on the table and take care of the dog and fend for our mental health as individuals at the same time. So Husband takes long walks when I’m at work and I take long walks when I come home and he cooks. And it turns out that walking like this is good enough.
*Coffee for him and hot chocolate or herbal tea for me. If you’ve ever wondered what an interfaith marriage — part LDS and part non-LDS — looks like on the ground, it’s usually just this: coffee for him and not-coffee for me.