A quote from Dr. Suess often resonates when I hear couples discuss how they have "lost" the "spark" in their relationship. The quote from Dr. Suess is "Adults are just outdated children."
As we grow and mature into adulthood, often, we become focused on being an adult, acting serious, taking on responsibilities, etc. and eventually foreclosing on the fun and joy we experienced as a child.
Which can be interpreted as when we become an adult we forget how to play. Furthermore, in a relationship, we can find that both partners have forgot how to play. Or, in a relationship, we have limited ourselves to what and how we "play" together.
There are a number of common activites that are considered "play" in a relationship. Such as outdoor activities, eating out, cooking, watching a show, etc. Although, there are other activities that take place that you may not consider as ways to "play" in the traditional sense.
Ultimately, the objective is to interact with one another in different ways to demonstrate and instill a belief that "we can" play and "we can" enjoy and "we can" work together.
Included below are some ideas to try and test/learn if they resonate with you. Start simple, at first schedule one of them, and test/learn what appeals to you and what doesn't.
Share a moment of focus together
- Pick a reasonable sized jigsaw puzzle, backgammon, mancala, or board game and set it up somewhere you can both take a few minutes each day over the course of a week or so to connect and try to put some pieces together or play a few rounds...
Share a vision together
- Pick a "paint by numbers" portrait available at your local retailer and spend some time painting together. Painting by numbers makes the process much easier for the "non-artist" while also allowing one to tap into that creative side. Painting together allows the both of you an opportunity to share a vision together...
Share a meal or sweet treat together
- Pick a mutual meal/dessert that you both enjoy and work together to create it. Then, share it with each other, or better yet feed each other! Savor the moment together...
Check the "box" together
- Identify a "to do" or a "repair" around the house that needs to be taken care of and then both of you work together to knock it out. Find the solution on Youtube, Google it, etc. Regardless of size, the idea is to work together, and demonstrate we can "solve" problems together...
Get "zen" together
- Find your zen together by learning a simple Qi Gong/Tai Chi ritual. It offers the opportunity to learn something new together as well as introduce a mind/body experience that can add a way to calm and relax the body.
Tie a knot together
- Take the opportunity to learn how to knit together. If you have past experience doing it, then teach your partner. If you both have never knitted, then take the opportunity to learn and enjoy the process of producing something such as a scarf or beanie hat.
Take a risk together
- Work together to take a risk, for example, if possible identify a stock or investment to purchase and agree on how "risky" you want to be with the investment. Keep it simple, say $100 dollars - if the funds are available, and work through the process of agreeing on taking a risk!
Have a laugh together
- Identify a show, a video clip, a comedian, or recall an instance where both of you share a deep and enjoyable belly laugh together.
Stare at each other
- Come together and connect through something as simple as looking at one another. This activity can be a tremendously intimate experience. Sit or stand apart from one another and stare at each other without talking. Start by trying to do it for 30 seconds at a comfortable distance...Then, progress to 60 seconds and move closer...Finally, go for 90 seconds as close as you can be...Or, if you're daring, try 4 minutes like the video link below.
Get dirty together
- Literally, get your hands dirty together. Plant something in the yard or a simple herb box, clean out a closet, clean the oven, or even clean out the toilet to demonstrate you're both willing to do the dirty work for/with one another...
Get clean together
- Take an opportunity to wash each other's feet. It's a humbling and intimate experience and the feet have many sensory receptors which can stimulate a calming sensation. It is also an oddly vulnerable experience having one's feet washed/cleaned...
Make a mixed tape together
- Take some time together to sit down and create a mutual playlist that is a compilation of songs that you both enjoy and resonate with. Then, when tensions rise in the house or things are going sideways turn it on and turn it up to disrupt the energy and provide some relief through sounds that resonate with both of you...
Be quiet together
- Find a green space or bench in nature and sit together. No talking. Just sit. Be quiet together. Do this for 5 minutes at first. Then try 10 minutes. Maybe work up to 20 minutes. Just sit and be together. Then, take some time to share what you experienced...
Take a plunge together
- Find a lake or river and safely jump in! Don't think about it, just grab hands and take a leap together. Then, enjoy warming up together.
These activities may not be new or exciting to you and that is OKAY! What is important is to intentionally disrupt your current routine, if it is not meeting your expectations, and expand HOW YOU PLAY by harnessing your inner child and getting back to experiencing joy through play...