You’ve probably always wanted your marriage to serve a purpose greater than the two of you alone. Yes, you’re both serving in your local church, but you want to do more. You and your spouse want to make the world a better place for people outside of your immediate circle, but aren’t sure how.
Here are five ways to get started:
1. Volunteer Together on Weekends
One of the most obvious steps to making the world a better place with your spouse is to volunteer together. Volunteering and giving back of your time and your resources in some way is practically a requirement, so doing it with your spouse is just a double win. If you can find a cause that you’re both passionate about or an area that you’re both skill, not only is volunteer time good for your community, it’s also good for your relationship. That might look like volunteering with Habitat for Humanity one weekend, or it could look like tutoring in the subjects you’re each strong in. The sky’s the limit, as long as you’re doing something good!
2. Recycle/Conserve more/Create less waste
Recycling is important. We know that, but sometimes it feels like the benefits of walking a few more steps to the recycling bin aren’t worth it. It’s just one bottle, right? Wrong. Plan with your partner to start making your environmental impact a little more positive. That could mean anything from learning and starting to recycle the right way to turning the lights off when you leave the room to taking shorter showers to composting at home. It’s about creating less waste for your household. That could even look like forgoing any extra containers or plasticware that comes with ordering take-out food.
3. Take in a college student
College students are notoriously broke, and now research says 36 percent of them are food-insecure and about as many of them don’t have a stable place to live either because they can’t afford it. If you live near a college or university and have extra space, consider taking in a college student in need and easing their burden and maybe even yours if they’re able to pay any rent. According to the study, many of the students who are food-insecure are low-income students whose financial aid isn’t stretching far enough. So even though you’d only be helping one person this way, you’d be helping them achieve the goal of obtaining a college degree despite all of the obstacles.
4. Start a garden
This one may sound a bit weird, but planting a garden could be a multipurpose activity for your relationship. Planting a garden could serve as your quality time with your spouse as you both nurture something and watch it grow. Functionally, a garden could be a benefit to not only your household but also your neighbors once your plants start producing fruits—and vegetables.
You may not live in a food desert, but you may know someone who does. Food deserts are technically defined as places where a person can’t access healthy or whole foods, fruits or vegetables—whether that’s because of access or cost. Starting a backyard garden or a community garden plot could eventually allow you to start growing fresh food that you can donate to people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access it because of institutional, systemic issues beyond their control.
5. Rescue a pet from a shelter
It seems like everyone wants a designer dog these days, and you can’t get a designer dog from the pound, so the only logical option is to go to a puppy mill or a breeder. But that means there’s still a perfectly good dog at the animal shelter that would appreciate a loving home and food.
When it’s time to bring an animal into your home, consider relaxing your “Maltipoo or Bust” stance and adopting a dog from a local animal shelter. It’s usually a fraction of the cost and the animal will probably come with its vaccinations, some form of microchip and be spayed or neutered. In this scenario, everyone wins: You and your spouse get the pet you’ve always wanted and you’ve saved an innocent animal from a terrible fate at the shelter and given it love.