This image hangs in our kitchen above the sink. Bob and I love to dance. We’ve been doing it since we met 30 years ago. It’s one of the most fun activities we do together. (Bob may say he disagrees, but once we get out on that dance floor he has as much fun as I do.)
Dancing is a connection – physical and emotional, it makes us smile, it’s totally different from anything else we do together, it’s a date; we touch, we hold hands, we learn new steps together, we practice, we screw up, we laugh, we exercise together while having fun. We let go of all the stressors of daily life.
I often pose the question to couples in session, “What do you two do for fun?” It may feel like a strange question, since couples in relationship or marriage counseling are there to address serious issues. Most often the response is silence and a puzzled look. I wait. The responses I hear most often are:
- Fun? We don’t have time for that. That was before we had kids.
- We don’t have fun activities in common.
- It’s not a priority.
- We’ll have fun when we retire.
- We don’t have the money for babysitters.
- I’m too tired to have fun.
- Life isn’t supposed to be fun.
Playing is not just for kids. Adults need to have fun too.
For couples, it may make the difference between marriage and divorce; between feeling connected or disconnected; between enjoying life or feeling depressed. It’s been shown that play reduces stress and increases a sense of well-being. Sharing time and interests together cultivates bonding, communication and friendship. It stimulates lightheartedness and a sense of pleasure. When you feel more joy from your relationship, you are more likely to feel optimistic and perceive your partner more positively.
1) Commit the time and money.
Put excuses aside. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of time and money. We prioritize what we value. A happy, connected marriage or relationship that creates a warm, nurturing environment is the greatest gift to our children.
2) Try some novel or new activities.
Boredom kills relationships. A fascinating study by Art Aron and colleagues found that couples who engage in novel activities experience greater relationship satisfaction. It makes sense. When we do something new it is stimulating and arousing. Sharing that with a partner creates a pleasurable connection.
In the beginning of relationships, couples spend a significant amount of time exploring, trying new activities, having fun together. That is what creates and keeps the spark alive. Although real life can be stressful, you can still create fun, excitement and playful time together.
3) Be intentional and give yourself permission to be a kid again.
Find activities to do together. Think about what you did when you were dating. Did you go ice skating, have picnics, try different restaurants? Do more of what you enjoy together.
Make a bucket list of fun and novel ideas. Allow yourself to “let your hair down.” It’s easy to get locked into serious mode as adults.
Schedule the activities now. If you don’t, they may fall to the wayside again. And remember, you can dance in your kitchen.
I found a beautiful song about dancing in the kitchen. It’s called Home by Blue October. Here are the lyrics to the chorus:
But listen I –
I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner
I can’t wait to soar
Baby, I lie awake and I watch you sleeping thinking it’s the little things that make a home
Like dancing in the kitchen in the pale moonlight
Only care in the world is that our kids are all right
Daddy loves momma and momma loves him
Tomorrow we get to do it over again
If you are in a relationship and feel disconnected, have difficulties communicating, and/or are experiencing a crisis, Bob and I can help. Call us at 410-363-2825 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.