My husband and I love to get away from our busy schedules and go out together. But we’ve found if we invite another couple along to our dinner out, or— even better — to our home, we have more fun and find out more about ourselves than if we were alone. Conversation becomes richer, laughter becomes heartier, and our marriage connection grows stronger as we interact with others.

As we’ve included others in our plans, we’ve realized how rarely couples do this. Most of us live isolated lives that revolve around work, kids, and our own concerns. After a while, that treadmill can begin to wear on a couple. The sparks of earlier conversations and getting to know each other are gone, and the “sameness” of daily routine becomes numbing. But if you invite another couple in, the sparks again begin to fly (and in a good way).

So what do you need to do to get started? Here are some practical ideas:

Make a list of couples you’d like to get to know better. Sit down with your spouse and decide on a few couples with whom you’d love to spend some time. Don’t try to talk each other into spending time with couples either of you doesn’t think you’d enjoy. You both need to be excited about the couple for this to work.

Don’t be discouraged if the first couple you ask can’t make it. My husband and I  came up with a list of about 10 couples we really like. This gives us variety when others’ schedules are busy and they can’t meet with us. There are times when I’ve called several couples before I found one who could go out with us or come over to our home for dinner. I’m not discouraged if I know I have someone else I can call.

Keep it simple. If you’re going to do this regularly, keep the planning simple. Don’t do something elaborate, or you probably won’t do it very often. There have been many times we’ve invited someone over for pizza or even just popcorn. If we prepare a meal, we often do something simple, such as soup and cornbread. Once, we even went with another couple to a park and cooked over the grills there. People are glad to be invited and don’t care so much what they’ll be eating. Going out to eat makes it really easy for everyone too, but it can limit what you can do afterward.

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Plan something for after dinner. Often it’s enough to just get together and talk. But if you have a couple over often, you may need to think of other things to do. Some ideas that work well for us are playing board or video games, watching sporting events together, going to a movie or watching one at home, or attending a play or a concert. If you feel there isn’t much to do in your community, check out the events at a local university, or even a local high school. You may be surprised at what fun can be had.

Consider vacationing together. Our connections with other couples have grown so much that we’ve begun vacationing with them. A group of us went to a beautiful outdoor spot for a long weekend. We rented cabins in the same complex and spent the time outdoors. We planned meals together and everyone got involved in the cooking and clean-up. We stayed up late and laughed more than I can remember doing in ages.

.Another couple is celebrating a milestone anniversary next summer. They’ve asked us to accompany them to London since we’ve been there and they haven’t. They want us to show them around and give them confidence in a new place.

Mix up ages and stages. My husband and I mostly have other couples over who are in our stage of life, but occasionally it’s great to connect with older or younger couples. Some of our richest times have been when we’ve had an older couple over. We gain courage from their wisdom and their perspective on life. Younger couples can connect us with things we’ve forgotten and give us a better sense of where the world is going. They add a freshness to life too.

So if you’re spending most of your evenings with your spouse only, consider adding another couple to liven things up!