North Naples pair's 'Rehab' Card Game Gets Couples Talking and Kissing Again.
-By Laura Layden
Lost that loving feeling?
There's a card game to help you find it again, created by a North Naples couple who recently started selling it online.
The name of the game hints at its objective: Rehab-A Couples Release.
It's the brainchild of James Schlimmer, 34, who developed a similar game for his best friend six years ago to help him communicate with his wife. The game got the fighting couple talking again and reminiscing about happier times. It worked so well, his friend's wife called it "couples therapy."
"I said, 'Wait a minute, there might be something to this here. I know some couples are not communicating as well as they would like to,' " Schlimmer recalled.
Life got busy — so Schlimmer filed his idea away.
A few months ago, Schlimmer mentioned the idea he had for a game to his girlfriend of about a year, Ashley Chaffee, 28, as they chatted on a couch. From that conversation evolved a game they could sell.
The couple came up with questions they thought would appeal to couples, new and old. They said it wasn't too difficult for them to think of questions that would get people talking and laughing — and maybe even kissing.
"I guess this is what happens when two marketing brains get together — you create a business," Schlimmer said.
Both have marketing degrees from Florida Gulf Coast University. Both have day jobs.
He is a vice president of real estate at Cottrell Title & Escrow in Naples.
She is a director of national accounts for sports events company Barnburner Sports & Experiential Marketing, based in Connecticut.
In his first version of the game years ago, Schlimmer wrote questions on a legal pad and matched them with cards in a deck. Now the questions are on the cards.
There are 48 cards with questions and four "social cards," giving couples time to cheers one another — or steal a kiss.
Here are a few examples of the questions in the game:
» Describe the last time you were proud of your partner. (Don’t be shy, explain the circumstances that unfolded that made you proud.)
» What was the funniest moment of your relationship? (So far.)
» What frustrates you the most about your partner?
» What skill does your partner have that you are jealous of?
The e-commerce site for Rehab went live in mid-October at rehabgamingusa.com. The game — printed in Orlando and packaged in Naples — also has been sold through social media and other online outlets, including Amazon.com. It costs $17.95, not including shipping.
"We have sold just over half of our initial supply run," Schlimmer said, not wanting to share the actual number of games sold just yet.
Orders, he said, have come from multiple states, including California, Ohio, Illinois, Florida and New York.
Through a special promotion, couples are encouraged to host group parties and post videos of themselves playing Rehab at facebook.com/rehabgamingusa/. The video with the most "likes" will win, and its creators will get a $1,000 American Express gift card. The hope is to get at least 50 entries.
Schlimmer and Chaffee have played the game themselves. It has helped them relive some of their first moments together and learn more about each other, he said.
As part of their market research, they handed the game out to couples and then watched them play, at spots such as The Counter and Blue Martini at Mercato in North Naples. The couple liked the interaction they saw, especially when one girl kissed her guy's neck.
Market research also included working with an online focus group with 250 participants, which made it clear couples aren't communicating and there is a huge need to open up that door of communication.
Schlimmer and Chaffee said they're open books in their relationship and that it has built a stronger bond. They hope to encourage others to be that way with their game.
"It's unfortunate we've lost the art of communication as a society, especially with our partners, especially with that person that is supposed to be our best friend," Chaffee said.
At Schlimmer's company party at Cafe Alfredo in North Naples last week, he shared the game with his co-workers for the first time. Couples spread out to different tables to try the game.
"They loved the idea of an icebreaker and thinking about old times," Schlimmer said.
Other versions of the game are in the works — one for families and a one-on-one version for couples who want deeper conversations and a more intimate experience.
Eric Nagel, who has been friends with Schlimmer since they met at Lely High School in East Naples, has played Rehab with his wife, Vanessa. Schlimmer gave them the game as a gift.
"Immediately I thought it was a great idea," Nagel said. "We just loved the questions."
The Nagels, who are in their 30s, have been married about a year, but they have been together about five years. The game uncovered stories they'd never heard about each other, Eric said.
"You can play it for as long as you want," he said. "We probably spent about an hour or two playing it. If there was a bigger group, it would take longer."
After Schlimmer gave her a game and asked her to try it, Brenda Fioretti, managing broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida, played it with her husband and two other couples around a fire pit. The average age in the group was 55.
"We really enjoyed it," Fioretti said. "It created a lot of different emotions — based on the questions that were asked — and a lot of very open conversation."
What's interesting, she said, is the different answers you can get from the same questions — and how different the answers might be depending on your age.
She gave this example: When asked to talk about the worst day of their lives, older players might answer the day their mother or father died, while younger players might answer the day they learned their SAT scores.
If a mix of generations played the game together, it would be very interesting to see the interaction — and the kind of conversations that are ignited, Fioretti said.
She is eager to play the game again.
"It's going to be a big hit," she said. "We will definitely play it again with our friends."