According to Howard Markman, PhD of University of Denver’s Center for Family and Marital studies, the more couples invest time and energy in having fun together the happier the couple will be over time. Research also supports that happily married couples live longer, healthier lives.
It can be all too easy to slip into the doldrums of life and allow the fun side of relationship to slide when there is financial stress, pressures of parenting and all the other tedium of domestic daily life.
As a couple’s therapist, I help my clients rediscover the fun and friendship that brought them together in the first place. It’s a crucial aspect of successful relationship counseling.
John Gottman, PhD of The Gottman Institute says, “Happy marriages are based on deep friendship.”
Being friends with your partner includes playing and enjoying leisure time together.
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Here are 7 ways you can bring playfulness into your relationship to enrich a foundation of friendship:
1. Schedule weekly date nights. This is a block of time just for the two of you dedicated to each other and your relationship. During this time no talk about the kids, the bills or the house-hold chores is allowed. Take turns planning the dates and make it fun. You don’t need to spend much if any money. Pack a picnic and go star-gazing. Go for a walk along the river and grab a coffee. Be sure to focus on each other and what you appreciate about one another.
2. Rediscover the playground. When was the last time you got on the swings at the city playground? Or built a sand-castle? Or climbed a tree? Get reacquainted with the little kid you still have inside of you and allow yourself to run around together at the park.
3. Visit a comedy club together. Laughter is not only great medicine. It’s also a great way to bond.
4. Explore a new creative hobby together. Who cares if you don’t have a creative bone in your body? It can be great fun to learn together how to make pottery or paint with water colors. It’s not about outcome. It’s about the fun of learning together.
5. Take dance lessons. Never mind your two left feet. Learn to ballroom dance or take a hip-hop class together. Don’t take it too seriously – just have fun!
6. Get frisky in the bedroom. Be sure you’re working together to keep the fire lit and find ways for intimate time to be fun time.
7. Join in on your partner’s ideas of fun. Friends show interest in one another. Chances are that when you were courting your partner you demonstrated a lot of interest in his/her interests. Be sure to lean in and ask your partner to teach you or tell you all about their idea of fun activities and try to join in.
If having fun with your partner seems completely out of reach, you might benefit from going to couples counseling. A trained and licensed therapist can help you and your partner rekindle the connection and get your relationship back on a track of fun, friendship and joy.