COUPLES WHO PLAY TOGETHER, STAY IN LOVE TOGETHER
I want you to meet Mr. Rubber Ducky and Mrs. Fabulous Flamingo.
Play is the air that keeps their love inflated.
Without it, both partners would deflate emotionally and feel stuck in a flat relationship.
Dr. Gottman’s research states that 70% of a relationship’s satisfaction is determined by the couple’s friendship. This is true for both men and women.
The couples who found ways to play together at every stage of their relationship stayed together. The couples who didn’t eventually separated or endured an unhappy relationship.
Play makes emotional connection easy and enjoyable. It invites both partners to open up emotionally. Play is a form of intimacy, because it requires an intimate knowledge of your partner’s inner world. A playful friendship with one another creates a strong relationship.
Maybe you grew up struggling with the concept of play. I know I did. I always felt that it came second to winning prizes or achievements.
Your play style is a reflection of the emotional security you were offered as a kid. It remains true for adults. Couples who create an emotionally secure relationship are often more playful than insecure couples.
Couples who lack trust or commitment tend to be kidnapped by their insecurities, thus blocking the part of the brain that activates play.
Learning to play well with each other is also what helps us fight well. Stan Tatkin, PsyD states that “secure couples know that a good fight stays within the play zone.” In other words, the conflict isn’t allowed to get nasty. Since both partners are committed to each other for the long haul, they are able to keep their walls down.
Part of cultivating an Intentionally Intimate Relationship is creating a culture of play.
Here are 3 Ways to Increase Play in Your Relationship:
#1 Try New and Unfamiliar Activities: Psychologist Arthur Aron recruited 53 middle-aged couples to study novelty and boredom in long-term relationships. The couples were asked to do one of three things: (1) engage in activities that were familiar and enjoyable, (2) change nothing about their routine, or (3) to find something new to do together.
After ten weeks, who do you think had a better relationship?
The couples who did new and unfamiliar activities had a much higher satisfaction in their relationship than the couples who spent their time doing familiar things.
Here are some ideas for you:
- Take a walk in a different part of town or venture to a new park together.
- Visit a new restaurant in town.
- Try a new activity such as indoor rock climbing, roller skating, bowling, or mini golf.
- Take a day trip. Get in the car and drive. Stop whenever you feel like getting out and exploring.
#2 Reinvent Date Night: My partner and I recently tried a date night box called “Night in Boxes.” The theme was called “blind date.” We were asked to create an obstacle course, and then lead our blindfolded partner through the course using only verbal instructions.
It was a great way to connect and be playful with one another without leaving the comfort of our home. I highly recommend it!
Here are some other ideas:
- Get dressed up and take a class together, such as salsa dancing, or a paint and wine workshop
- Bike to a coffee shop to sip warm drinks and chat
- Take a tour in your hometown that you’ve never been on
#3 Participate in the 7-Day Emotional Connection Challenge: I’m taking a select group of couples on an exciting seven-day virtual adventure—but in the comfort of their own home. Get ready to reconnect with your partner in a very playful way! Check your email tomorrow for more details.
Play is essential to making love last. It is created by both partners and requires intentionality as an adult, since it might not come as naturally as it once did when we were children. Like scheduling sex and date night, we need to schedule time for play, exploration, and adventures. These activities revitalize our love life and deepen our emotional connection.
Without play, partners tend to drift apart from each other, making it impossible to sustain emotional intimacy.
To prevent this, Mr. Rubber Ducky and Mrs. Fabulous Flamingo tether to each other with a long rope. That way if they drift too far apart, they can intentionally pull each other closer and reconnect through playful activities and adventures. Shouldn’t you do the same?