Thanks to the pandemic, there are less options to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Instead of diving into your phone or cruising through Netflix while stuck at home, why not connect as a couple playing board or card games?
A recent study from Baylor University found that couples who played board games together released more oxytocin, which is known as the love hormone. Oxytocin increases trust between partners and also calms and soothes.
“Board games are a great way to bond since it’s interactive,” psychologist Billie Tyler said from her South Hill office.
“Playing games breaks the monotony. Being together for so long, but being apart as in doing different things at home, is hard on relationships. But if you play a game, you communicate and work together or go against each other. The odds are that you’ll have a good time together.”
“Fog of Love” is a game that requires some effort. The tutorial is extensive, but your time spent learning the rules and what the game is about is worth it. “Fog of Love” is a role-playing game in which you can discover what’s on your partner’s mind. You can be on a blind date, falling in love or navigating through marriage. You don’t have to be romantically involved to play. Roommates can have a blast playing, but “Fog of Love” is ideal for couples. ($41.11, Amazon)
“Off Topic” is reminiscent of “Scattergories.” Every player has an answer board and the same numbered game card. The object is to come up with as many answers to a question as possible that relates to the topic on the card, such as what are the worst baby names. Lots of conversation and laughter will be generated. ($29.99, Amazon)
“Couples: Table Topics” helps a tandem learn more about each other. Here’s some examples of CTT questions. If we could quit our jobs, what would we like to do? If we had unlimited funds, where would we go for a romantic getaway? Do we spend enough time together alone as a couple? ($25, Amazon)
What couple doesn’t want to visit Paris? “Metro” takes you there, and it’s perfect for a pandemic since who knows when we’ll be allowed to enter France again? “Metro” is a tile-laying game, which is simple and straightforward, so it’s perfect for those who would like a glass of wine or two while they play this lighthearted contest. The board has Paris Metro stations listed around the outside and in the center. The goal of the game is to lay tracks and connect as many stations as you can. ($35.62, Amazon)
“Ticket to Ride” has nothing to do with the Beatles classic, but it’s another great pandemic game since it’s about travel. This time the terrain is the U.S. The board is a map of the U.S. and cities, which are connected by colored routes each with a certain number of segments. Players have “ticket” cards at the start of the game. There are bonus goals to achieve, which are cities to connect. It’s a great way to compete, and it also offers ideas of where to vacation. ($39.99, Amazon)
Words can either build a relationship or tear it apart verbally. One of the all-time great games for couples, who are wordsmiths, is “Scrabble.” It’s a classic that will never go out of style. You can alter the game and perhaps play “Romantic Scrabble” and only allow words that are part of the language of love. Such words as ecstasiate, redamancy and amorevolous will help you score some serious points. ($39.99, Amazon)
“Love Language: Card Game” helps those who are new to each other or married for years learn about each other. There are five categories: family, intimacy, couple, individual, and past and future. “Love Language” leads to lots of laughs and conversation. ($24.99, Amazon)
It’s not easy for couples to reveal personal details. A way to loosen up and help your partner discover what makes you tick is through “Intimacy: An Erotic Card Deck.” The game, which is free online, takes participants through 50 questions composed by licensed mental health counselor Veronica Chin Hing-Michaluk.
“People can learn so much from each other when they play with this deck,” Chin Hing-Michaluk said while calling from her Manhattan office. “The deck allows entrance into the realm of your partner. A lot of people have a difficult time talking about their wants and needs.
“The deck helps people talk about what is intimate. Why does our body react a certain way when we have a crush on somebody? Why does our heart race and our palms sweat?” The “Intimacy” game might help you learn a great deal about your partner.
No matter what game is played, engaging in such an activity is an excellent alternative to solitary enjoyment in a household shared with a partner. “It’s definitely better to play games than to just do something passive like watch television,” family therapist Marilyn Sears said from her north Spokane office. “If you’re together at this time, make the best of it and enjoy each other.”
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