You may have seen the national campaign “Play 60” promoted to encourage children to be physically active for at least 60 minutes every day. Just as playing contributes to physical health for children, the same can be said for emotional health of adults and their marriages! Research has found emotional intimacy to be a strong predictor of happy marriages. Emotional intimacy can be increased in many ways and among them is shared leisure activities, or playing! When couples engage in activities together they cultivate connection. Participating in shared leisure activities can decrease individual and marital stress levels. Learning to play together contributes to establishing an intimate friendship in marriage. Friendships involve awareness of one another’s interests, quirks, passions and values. What better way to cultivate a greater friendship than playing together?
Looking at children play seems to flow naturally from a young and liberated sense of being, full of imagination and free from the cares of the world. So how can spouses capture the spirit of play in their marriages? Play can be incorporated by use of games, humor, or any leisure activity. The specifics of play are not as important as the spirit behind it. It is important that in playing spouses experience a collaborative sense of lightheartedness that contributes to a fun and pleasurable experience.
Engaging in shared activities as spouses provides opportunities to have fun, enjoy one another’s presence and reconnect
Playing together in this way provides an influx of positive feelings regarding one’s spouse that can contribute to an overall feeling of optimism concerning the marriage. When the marriage is perceived in a positive light, spouses are more likely to give each other the benefit of the doubt, experience less escalation in conflict, and feel less adversarial toward each other.
So where do you begin?
Pursue a common interest, go on a walk, pull out a board game, or let loose and dance in the car just have fun being with your spouse! With a long to-do list and busy schedule you may think you have no time to stop and play but putting aside your everyday worries and letting loose with your spouse, even just for a few minutes, is a worthwhile investment for yourself and your marriage.