Editor’s note: Are you looking for a little more fun, joy, and spice in your marriage? Or a lot? Stephen and Misty Arterburn in their brand new book The Mediterranean Love Plan: 7 Secrets To Life-Long Passion In Marriage bring us these thirteen suggestions that you’ve simply got to implement and see what happens!
- Watch a movie or play together that is guaranteed to make you both laugh. A few of our favorites are Elf, Ground Hog Day, and The Princess Bride.
- Choose to laugh more, criticize less. Make the family dinner table a time of laughter and fun by making it a criticism-free zone. Ask each other to share the most embarrassing experiences or the funniest or happiest moments that occurred during the week.
- We Americans often keep our minds on fast-forward, for a variety of reasons: our work ethic, too many activities, the culture of social media and the internet. We place a high value on efficiency and getting things done quickly. Give yourselves permission to set aside a period of time every day to slow down and linger — both alone with yourself, to spend in prayer or meditation and letting go of worries, and with each other, as a way to bless one another with your focus and presence and love. Put away the technology during these times.
- Ask yourselves, “Are we living to work or working to live?” Talk about the work/life balance and ways to prioritize your life outside of work, especially if work has begun to creep up and diminish your ability to relax, play, turn off the noise in your head, and be fully present to each other.
- If you love to dance but haven’t done it for a while, consider going out for an evening of dinner and dancing. While you cook or relax at home, play music that makes you want to take your mate in your arms and tango or salsa your way round the kitchen. Or take some Latin dance lessons!
- Become body conscious but not body self-conscious. In other words, show gratitude and appreciation for your own body by treating it well, and show your mate how much you love and appreciate their body too, with words of affirmation, a playful wink and a sexy pat, a gentle caress. Never criticize your spouse’s body. Be especially careful to keep your eyes on the prize of your partner when out in public, showering them with your loving gazes. Don’t look around the room or stare at other attractive people; your mate deserves your eyes to be on him or her and to feel, in your presence, that they are the most desirable person in the room.
- Is your sex life playful? Do you take the time you need to linger before, during, and after sex, to deeply connect? (Quickies can also be playful and fun; just make sure you also make time for unhurried lovemaking.)
- Play a game, indoor or out, that you know puts people in a playful mood. Twister, Pictionary, Taboo, and charades generally lead to some good laughs. Set up a croquet or badminton set in the backyard, where dinner on the patio can lead to some spontaneous game playing. Keep a Frisbee, a football, an oversized plastic ball and bat, a kickball, or a big bottle of soap bubbles handy in a basket on the porch for easy fun. Let yourselves play and be kids at heart again.
- Go out to a family-friendly comedy club or improv theater. These can be a blast, and often the audience gets to participate, so it’s more than passive entertainment.
- Be an easy laugher — that is, be on the lookout for humor in life, note the everyday quirks that make humans so endearingly funny, and share them at dinner. Learn to laugh at yourself and see more of your flaws and mistakes as humorous rather than something to get anxious about. Make a habit of sharing funny quotes, cartoons, memes, or anecdotes with your mate via text, email, and Facebook during the day when you are away from each other. Send a playful, flirty text once a day to your spouse, something you know will make them smile or laugh, lift their spirits, and make them look forward to seeing you at the end of the day. Anybody can cultivate a better sense of humor!
- Make your own romance language. Learn a few sexy or romantic phrases or terms of endearment in Spanish, Italian, or French that are just between the two of you. Also, check out your ratio of positive to negative words in your personal vocabulary. Emphasize being more positive in your communication style to your mate and your kids; be more upbeat and enthusiastic whenever you can. This doesn’t mean being fake when you are sad or struggling, but for many people, being negative has become a habit, a way of seeking sympathy or getting attention. Try being the family encourager and look for ways to build up your mate.
- Get away to do nothing but play. Americans are amazing at turning even their vacations into opportunities to catch up on work. Get away somewhere that will force you to unplug from routine, encourage you to relax in a new environment, and most of all remind you to play! For some couples, this could be camping; for others, it means heading to the beach; for still others, it is a weekend getaway to a great online deal at a fancy hotel. It could also be as simple as going for a walk together on a nice evening, in a new neighborhood or around a new park. Doing anything new, even trying out a new restaurant, stimulates endorphins in the brain, evoking feelings of happiness.
- Talk about favorite childhood play. What did you love doing as a kid on summer days or summer eves? How did you keep yourself entertained? Just sharing these memories can put you in a dreamy, connected, playful mood. Surprise each other with spontaneous fun. Get up off the couch, turn off the TV, and announce, “Everybody pile in the car. We’re going to play minigolf (or go bowling or biking) and then get an ice cream cone!”
Excerpted with permission from The Mediterranean Love Plan by Stephen and Misty Arterburn, copyright Stephen Arterburn.
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When was the last time you played and had fun laughing together with your spouse? With all of the responsibilities, pressures on the job, busy schedules, and bills to pay, it can be easy to slip into a rut of work work work and very little relaxation or fun. Take time today for some playful fun with your husband! Imagine what good can come from the choice to include play in your day! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you!