Couples who play together, stay together
Vail CO, Colorado
Editor’s note: Neil Rosenthal is on vacation. This is one of his previously published columns.
Most of the time, the couple that plays together, stays together.
Once a relationship has a commitment, people tend to quit dating ” and the fun slows way down. Then they have a variety of responsibilities and obligations ” all of the things we “have to” do in order to sustain a relationship, family, home, career and get the bills paid.
But most people who quit dating also quit regularly having fun together. One of the problems of doing fun things together is that people frequently have different ideas about what constitutes fun. Some people find board games (like Monopoly) interesting, while others may find such games boring. Some people would be enormously challenged and excited by learning a foreign language, while others would find it too much work. Some people find watching a sports event enjoyable, while others do not.
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Many people watch TV as their main form of fun, but most of the time, TV is not fun. It is a way of zoning out, and most people are not having fun while they are watching TV. For me, the concept of fun has changed over the years. I used to find movies, concerts, ballets and plays enjoyable. At some point it became much less fun to do those things. When I look at what I now find fun, it usually involves my active rather than passive participation, things like hikes, tennis, canoeing, dancing and traveling.
Recent research on the subject confirms that couples who would like to stay together would be well advised to learn how to date again and rediscover fun. You may need to relearn that there are many interesting, exciting and stimulating things to do that can re-charge you as a couple, and prevent you from growing stale together. Look at the various ways the two of you can continuously infuse novelty into your relationship.
Here’s how to put these ideas to work:
– Each of you create an individual list titled “What Fun?” Be as expansive as you can. Include at least a dozen items ” two dozen, if possible.
– Create a second list titled “New Things I Would Like to Experience, Experiment With or Try.” Again, include a dozen items if you can.
– Now combine your two lists with your partner’s, and come up with a joint list of 10 fun things you will commit to doing together during the next month or two.
– Create one more joint list of 10 additional fun things you will commit to doing together during the next 12 months. This must be jointly agreed upon. Keep the two lists very visible, posted on a mirror or the refrigerator, because the reminders will help the two of you stay on track.
Continuously update these lists. Don’t let yourself get into a rut. Keep on trying new things, such as miniature golf, card games, weekend trips, joining the choir, skiing, water-skiing, gardening, frisbee, bowling, walking or running in a 5k or 10K race ” you get the idea. Planning events and activities gives you new experiences to look forward to on an ongoing basis, and it helps things to be more interesting and romantic.
Be willing, as I did, to expand your ideas of fun. Too many of us have very narrow ideas of what we enjoy.
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Denver and Boulder, specializing in how people strengthen their intimate relationships. He can be reached at (303) 758-8777, or e-mail him from his website, heartrelationships.com.