Take a moment to think about your average day.
Imagine it from the beginning to the end, like a video playing on fast-forward in your mind. You’ve got work, obligations to friends and family, and possibly more like working out or volunteering.
It’s a lot.
So here’s the question. When you get to spend time with your guy in the midst of all that chaos, do you want to feel like you’re just ticking off one more item on your to-do list? Or do you want to PLAY?!
Play happens when you do what you want to do, free of a sense of obligation.[i] It’s the fun, engaging, passionate part of life. It never feels like a chore because it never is.
When you and your guy play together, that’s when your relationship comes alive. Playtime is the time to build connection, get to know each other better, and to strengthen the bond that makes you a couple. It’s the heart of your romance.
It’s fairly easy to see how to make date nights playful. That’s as easy as doing something you both enjoy. But the real secret to unlocking the power of play is making even serious discussions playful.
How do you do THAT?
I have two suggestions. Used together, these two tips will turn even the most pragmatic conversation into an opportunity to make your relationship stronger.
- Turn serious discussions into games as often as possible.
Suppose the two of you have been talking about taking a trip together. You decide it’s high time you nailed down a destination and started making plans.
Setting an itinerary for a trip is work, make no mistake. It requires a certain level of organization. But there’s no reason why you can’t turn this kind of work into a game.
Start with a fun brainstorming session about possible locations. Even if you’re on a limited budget, dream big and get creative. Find ways to incorporate themes from your dream trip into a doable weekend away.
Then keep the fun vibe going as you book flights, reserve hotel rooms, and make other plans.
You can approach other conversations the same way. For example, a discussion about getting a dog together. Or holiday plans with each other’s family. Even talks about big topics, like marriage and kids.
As long as the conversation allows it, approach what might otherwise be a serious topic in a playfully way.
- When you need to have a really serious discussion, make sure you overtly state your ultimate goal: PLAY.
Some topics just don’t lend themselves to a playful approach. If something’s misfiring in your relationship, for example.
There’s no way to make a game out of telling him that lately you feel ignored.
So instead of making the conversation itself fun, make it a point to start the discussion by stating your ultimate goal. Something is stealing your joy, and you want to get back to enjoying your time together.
During the conversation, any time things get tense; remind him (and yourself) that resolution matters because that’s when the fun starts again. And when the conversation concludes, if possible and appropriate, follow it up with something fun and lighthearted.
Even when you need to deal with serious stuff, keep your focus on building playful interactions into the fabric of your relationship. Because couples that are able to maximize their playtime are some of the happiest couples around.
[i] De Koven, Bernard L. “To Play or Not to Play.” Psychology Today. HealthProfs.com, 11 Oct. 2016. Web. 14 Oct. 2016.