Whoever said that games are child's play never attended a marriage seminar. If you're planning one, then you know the value in enticing your guests to interact, socialize and learn more about each other. And oh yes: you want to communicate some bigger marital themes without being heavy-handed. This is no small order, but these four interactive games should rise to the challenge. After each game is over – and you award a prize to the winner – ask your guests to identify the underlying message of the activity. Expect the answers to differ; in fact, the answers just might spawn some interesting conversations for your seminar. Your guests may learn: marriage isn't child's play, either, but determined couples can always find a way to have fun together.
The Marital Game
It's an oldie, and it's a goodie: The Newlywed Game, which can be modified at your marriage seminar to be called The Marital Game. Separate the men from the women and ask one group to complete a list of questions about their partners before bringing the couples together to see if the answers match. Innocuous questions about favorite colors and where couples went on their first date will probably generate ho-hum responses. Instead, try to go a little deeper while keeping your marriage seminar lively and fun with questions such as:
- What is the No. 1 thing your partner thinks you waste money on? What would your partner say you consider to be your best quality? Who is your partner's favorite (or least favorite) in-law and why?* Who was interested in getting married first?
- If you could redo your marriage ceremony, would you do it the same way or elope?
Underlying message: Every couple shares a history worth celebrating.
The Purse and Wallet Game
The rub is that women carry too much stuff in their purses. The Purse and Wallet Game often reveals that men are no slouches about crowding their pockets and wallets with stuff, either. Make up a list of items that you would expect men and women to tote around with them – lip balm, coins, receipts – as well items they might not, such as a paper clip, measuring tape and rubber bands. The couple who assembles the greatest number of items on the “scavenger list” wins.
Underlying message: Couples often fill gaps in one another to feel complete.
Who Am I?
The “trick” to making the most of this interactive game is to devise a list of truly compelling characters from history, contemporary news or the celebrity world. Since you're hosting a marriage seminar, raise the stakes by devising a list of famous couples. These figures should be well known to the average person; religious figures from the 17th century and distant members of the British royal family shouldn't count, as they'll only frustrate your guests. When you come up with a famous couple for each attendee, write the couple's name on a piece of paper and pin the paper to the attendee's back. Give your guests a certain amount of time – say, 30 minutes – to circulate and ask a series of “yes” or “no” questions until they identify the name of the couple affixed to their backs. Suggest that their questions begin with basic questions – “Is this couple involved in politics?” or “Is this couple generally well-liked?” – before proceeding to more specific questions. The fun with this game is that most people want to cheat (in a good way) by helping others identify their alter egos.
Underlying message: Couples often “find” each other for a reason.
The Daiquiri (or Ice Cream) Race
Some adult-sized bibs might keep this game from making a mess, but they won't harness the fun. Blindfold the men and place the women on the opposite side of the room with a frozen daiquiri (or bowl of ice cream). The women should scoop up a spoonful of the concoction, place the handle between their teeth and feed the concoction to their “blinded” partner (without spilling it, of course). This is strictly a “hands-off” game, requiring patience and finesse from the couple that empties their concoction first.
Underlying message: Couples rely on each to complete myriad tasks in life.
Mary Wroblewski earned a master's degree with high honors in communications and has worked as a reporter and editor in two Chicago newsrooms. She launched her own small business, which specialized in assisting small business owners with “all things marketing” – from drafting a marketing plan and writing website copy to crafting media plans and developing email campaigns. Mary writes extensively about small business issues, and especially “all things marketing.”