Enemies of Fun #1: Lack of Safety
One of the greatest enemies of fun is fighting. Many couples stop putting in the effort into date night when it gets soured by work complaints, financial worries, or in-law stressors. While these are crucial conversations for couples to have, if we’re trying to unwind and enjoy our time together, we need to find an appropriate time/place to talk about those emotionally-charged topics.
Slipping into stress and worry shuts out the romantic, fun mood and ends up fueling arguments. Guilt-tripping our spouse to spend time with us can also backfire. Instead, focus on great times you’ve had, or moments that you’d love to have with your spouse, and invite them to share in those experiences with you. Focus on the positives!
Try this: “Remember that great restaurant we went to for my birthday? I’d love to go someplace special like that for our anniversary this year. What do you think?”
Not this: “I hope you don’t forget our anniversary again this year. I always end up planning everything or we never do anything special!
Vow to keep leisure time fun so you both feel safe to connect.
Enemies of Fun #2: Lack of Mutuality
While you and your spouse don’t need to have the same interests and hobbies to be happy together, making time for shared and enjoyable experiences is crucial. Sometimes we let our spouse pick the movie or choose the restaurant, either because we don’t want to fight, we don’t have a strong preference, or we don’t have the energy to offer an alternative.
While being flexible and willing to compromise is important, tapping into things you both love will really enhance those experiences for both of you. When you regularly ask your spouse to watch a show they don’t like, keep you company at the store when they hate shopping, or tag along to a sporting event they have no interest in, those shared moments of leisure become boring, frustrating, or unpleasant for them.
Try to “listen like a friend” and ask your spouse about their ideal leisure activities. Stay curious as they share, and try not to get defensive if they don’t enjoy some of your favorite hobbies or interests. Once you better understand what you each enjoy, look for common ground. Make time each week to play a board game you both love, find a movie you both want to see, or attend a festival you’re both excited about. Discover your shared interests, and weave them into your time together.
Enemies of Fun #3: Lack of Variety
Couple rituals are predictable moments of connection we share throughout the day or week that bring us together. But, when it comes to date night, less predictable is better! So many couples fall into ruts and routines for date night, and they lose some of the spontaneity that keeps things fun. To keep the relationship going, it’s important to plan and anticipate your dates, just like you did early on in your relationship.
How can you continue spicing things up, even if you’ve been together for years? Try a new type of cuisine, find an exciting outdoor adventure, plan a romantic picnic at the botanical garden, or attend a concert together. Our lives can become so hectic that planning unique dates falls to the backburner, but a little effort goes a long way in keeping our relationships fun and exciting!
You don’t have to guess or read each other’s minds either! Instead of assuming what your spouse will or won’t enjoy, just ask. You might be surprised how your spouse’s likes and dislikes will change over the years, and what new adventures and experiences appeals the most to them during different stages of your relationship.
Enemies of Fun #4: Lack of Time
One of your most important relationship responsibilities is protecting the fun! When busy schedules, demanding jobs, and taking care of pets and children are involved, our leisure time can get edged out if we’re not careful. While personal time to relax and pursue hobbies and outside friendships is important, finding true leisure time as a couple needs to be a high priority, too.
If you’re struggling to find quality time to connect on fun topics, look at your schedules and find small pockets of time you can maximize. Could you wake up a bit earlier to enjoy breakfast together and chat? Would you trade a bit less time watching television alone or on your gadgets to play a game together, or talk about the highlights of your day before bed?
How we spend our time reflects our priorities. While our jobs and other responsibilities are demanding, our relationship with our spouse requires consistent quality time to sustain it. Look for the time, even as little as 5-10 minutes, where you can create small, meaningful connection points with your spouse every day. If you need to, pull out your calendars and block some pockets of time so that they are “reserved” for just the two of you.
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