By Drs. Evelyn and Paul Moschetta
Sounds easy, right? Well maybe. If you look inside the lives of happy couples, you'll find partners who make sure they play together. Each may have an interest, sport, or hobby they personally enjoy, but it doesn't get in the way of their having fun together. And while it can be a hassle carving out the time to do this, soul mates have learned just how important it is. They know that playing together is one ways they nurture and take care of one another, and that it helps keep their relationship romantically exciting.
How is it that playing together can be a strong aphrodisiac? We know from our research with couples in strong healthy marriages that playing together was one of the ways partners helped each other to grow individually. Men and women who believe that their partner is instrumental in helping them broaden their horizons and fulfill more of their personal potential reported increased feelings of love, desire and devotion. Believing that their partner helped them stretch themselves to become a better person (better as in kinder, less frightened, more courageous, and able to tap into unexpressed talents and creativity) fueled feelings of passion and commitment.
Playing together is also an aphrodisiac because when you are having fun you're more likely to be totally engaged in the present moment, and when you are fully present and completely engaged, you are most likely free of negative conclusions about yourself or your partner. In fact, these are the times when you remember what you like most about one another.
Having fun can only happen in this moment now. You can think about having fun in the future, but the actual experience takes place in the present. And when you're lost joyfully in it, you are free of pressures, worries, and fears. That's why we all like to play as much as we can. When you and your partner play together, you are actively creating opportunities to see one another the way you first did. This is not merely remembering the past, but recognizing cherished aspects of one another now, in the present. By playing together you can rekindle whatever it was that attracted you to one another in the first place. Daily pressures of one kind or another pile up to rob you of this view; playing together helps bring it back.
Having fun helps you let go of small annoyances so that you feel better about yourself and each other. So currently, if you do not have something that both of you enjoy doing together, begin thinking about what that might be. And don't be afraid to add something new to the list that neither of you have ever done before.
Unfortunately for a lot of couples, having fun takes the form of teasing one another. A good sense of humor and laughing together can lighten things up when one of you gets cabin fever or has a meltdown. But being funny is not the same as teasing. Teasing or making jokes at the expense of that other is never okay. Doing it in public is practically a capital offence. This kind of "fun" often has a thinly veiled hostility in it. It's also a way, no matter how subtle or cleaver, of elevating oneself by putting another down. Being playful should never leave either of you feeling embarrassed or humiliated.