When is the last time you and your partner tried something new together? When was the last time you went on an adventure? Laughed? Acted silly? If you can’t remember, then you’re in need of a play infusion.
Play is a necessary and vital part of intimate relationships. Yet we often mistakenly think we have to have matching ideas of fun and adventure if the relationship is going to succeed. Of course, it’s fine if you do, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t.
The most important thing is to find as many ways as you can to play together, and then support each other in your separate adventures. (For more on this, see “The Power of Play”.)
Preparation: Think about how you like to play and what adventures you’d like to have. Reflect on what play and adventure look like to you, and whether your needs for these experiences are being met. How would you like to play with your partner in the future? What shared adventures would you like to have?
Location: Somewhere you’ve never been before or a familiar place used in a new way. Try the park, the beach, a rooftop, your backyard. Consider climbing a tree and spending your entire date sitting out on a limb.
Pick a beautiful location near your home and create a scavenger hunt to find it, or leave a note telling your partner where to meet you — where you’ll be waiting with a surprise picnic. Try meeting at an atypical time: early morning, middle of the night, or when you would both normally be at work. The point is to go to a place that energizes you. Adventures can happen anywhere. Open-ended questions to ask your partner:
- What does play/adventure mean to you?
- How did you like to play when you were a child?
- What’s the most fun you’ve had playing in the last few years?
- How do you think we could have more fun?
- What’s an adventure story from your past?
- What’s the most recent adventurous thing you did?
- What are you most excited about or looking forward to right now?
- What adventures do you want to have before you die?
- What’s a one-day adventure you could imagine us having together?
Source: John Gottman, PhD, and Julie Schwartz Gottman, PhD December 22 2020;