Pick up almost any book on marriage, and you will find a good portion of it dedicated to helping couples improve their marital satisfaction. The reason so many authors address that topic is because so many couples express some level of disappointment or dissatisfaction in their marriages. Many of the suggestions and ideas are helpful, but I’d like to talk about one thing that really works and doesn’t require any special preparation, counseling or training.
The simple fact is this: Couples who spend time together are likely to be more satisfied in their marriage. Think back to when you were dating. If you were like most couples, you couldn’t wait to be together and to spend as much time as possible doing fun things and growing closer together. But once you returned from your honeymoon and finished all your thank-you notes, the realities of married life may have crept in. Most couples are separated a significant portion of the day by work, and then much of the time they have together is spent paying the bills, caring for the children or doing chores around the house. As responsibility pushes in, it’s hard to remember how much you enjoyed one another while you were dating, and intimacy becomes a distant memory.
But this slide into dissatisfaction is reversible! Research reveals that couples who spend time together walking, exercising, playing tennis or engaged in some form of recreational activity report feeling a deeper level of intimacy and satisfaction. When couples take time to play together they reduce their stress, increase trust and associate their relationship with fun and enjoyment. I am putting emphasis on physical activity because of the healthy boost of endorphins and the increase in emotional and physical energy people experience from it, but even playing cards and board games or going out for a relaxing dinner date can help bring the fun back into the relationship. The key is spending time together for the specific purpose of having fun together.
I recommend making room in your schedule for some “play time” with friends and some just for the two of you. Both are needed to feel the most satisfied in your marriage.
It’s not always easy to change your routines, but I want to encourage both husbands and wives to make a strong effort to include your partner in your recreational plans and, if necessary, give yourselves permission to set aside your work, busy schedules, or apprehension to try something new, and just have fun together. You don’t have to be a big sports fan, exercise buff or talented athlete. You just have to be willing to play! It really is true: couples who play together are more likely to stay together!
Live, Work and Relate Well!