play, therapy, sex therapist, couples therapy

Couples Who Play Together, Stay Together.

I went for a run on the beach today and I enjoyed watching families getting together for some fun in the sun. They were kicking soccer balls, jumping in the water and building sand castles. There was a lightness of spirit- and it seemed as though the only goal was to play and enjoy the day.  I have to think that since it’s the 4th of July weekend people expect to get out and have some fun. But what about the rest of the year?

I notice many couples seem to have difficulty integrating play and fun into their relationships. This can be for a variety of reasons. They may feel like there is not enough time in the week for fun activities, or they have to deal with work or family demands, or they believe that fun events cost too much money.

It seems like couples have many excuses to avoid making the time to let loose and have fun. This could be because our society tends to dismiss play for adults. Play is perceived as unproductive, petty or even a guilty pleasure. The belief is that once we are adults then it’s time to get serious. Consequently, relationships can begin to feel stale and lifeless and couples may find themselves wondering what happened to the joy they once had. Where did the spark go? What happened to the energy we once had that created laughter and smiles?

It’s important for couples to recognize the need to have play time just like their kids do! We don’t lose the need for novelty and pleasure as we grow up. Play brings joy. And it’s vital for problem solving, creativity and relationships.  Although play may look a bit different for adults, it’s just as valuable. Play is about being in the moment and having fun. For the most part, the focus is on the actual experience, not on accomplishing a goal. Play can mean exercise- like going for a Sunday ride on your bikes, or playing tennis together. It can also mean getting out in nature like the beach, forest or mountains.  It can be the times when you play games together, or the times when you let loose and wrestle with each other.  It’s allowing yourself to let go and get lost in the moment with your partner. It’s about valuing the joy and fun times as much as you value work and running the household.

If you find yourself thinking that play is a waste of time, know that it offers some serious benefits for both you and your partner. It will help bring that connection back and allow you to feel a deeper sense of joy in your relationship and your life.  So carve out some time each week to play with your partner!