I recently wrote an article about how to make your marriage more intimate and wanted to take time today to expound on the concept of point #1: the importance of play in your marriage. To that end, I’ve got a short, nine minute video for you. And, if you can’t watch the video now, you can read the cleaned up version of the script just below. By the way, this video is only visible on YouTube because it has some reference to sexual play at the end. So, you’ll have to head over there to see it. Just click on the picture below to watch on YouTube.
Prefer to Read the Script?
I’ve cleaned it up and changed it just a bit to make it more reader-friendly. It starts right here. 👇 Hey, Dr J here from drmccleese.org and I wanted to spend just a couple of minutes today talking to you about play and the importance of play in your marriage relationship. Now, this is part of a series that I started last week where I was talking about ways to make your marriage more intimate, so if you want more ways than what I’m talking about today check out this link.
Play is Important in Your Marriage
The first thing that I talked about in that blog was this idea of play in your relationship and enjoying one another. Now just so you know, I’m not specifically talking about sexual play. I’m talking about play in general and how you can enjoy one another. For the record though, sexual play certainly counts as a form of play. I encourage you to work on improving that part of your relationship, but for the purpose of this video, I’ll be talking about play in general.
Play Encourages Friendship
Play is valuable because it helps you remember that you are friends and that you enjoy one another. Dr. Gottman, a famous marriage researcher, has often talked about the importance of friendship in marriage. He says that when you look at all possible factors for relationship satisfaction, friendship is a primary factor in your marital happiness. He uses the example of a house to help you better understand friendship and notes that friendship could be compared to the foundation of your house. This is why you really want to emphasize friendship in your marriage above everything else. When your friendship is strong, all of the other relationship variables can fall into place a little more easily. This is why play is so important. When a couple plays together, they are naturally going to find their marriage much more enjoyable. Play helps you laugh more and when you laugh together you feel more connected as a couple. Play helps you feel more in love and makes your relationship satisfaction go way up. When you’re happy together you’re going to spend more time together. This creates this cumulative effect where if you’re playing and enjoying one another you want to spend more time together; and as you spend more time together you enjoy it more because you’re already having fun as a connected couple.
Play Can Make You More Creative
Play can actually make you more creative meaning that it makes it easier to problem-solve and resolve conflict. You can read more about this on this blog. I want to point out that the Journal of Research and Personality actually examined play among adults and how play impacts relationship satisfaction. They came up with four different types of play and two in particular really seemed to increase relationship satisfaction. These two types of play were other-directed play and intellectual play.
Other directed play is simply categorized as playful interactions with others. In your relationship, this can be flirtatious behaviors: tickling one another, a little bit of teasing playfulness, and joking around with one another are all forms of other-directed play. With all of those examples, you’re literally inviting that other person in to a relationship with you. Anything that eases tension when you’re in a stressful situation, like joking around and teasing; anything that eases stress is part of other-directed play. Not too long ago my husband and I were goofing around and he likes to play like he’s gonna play fight or wrestle me. He used to be a wrestler and so he’ll joke like he’s gonna wrestle me. Sometimes I play back and act like I’m gonna wrestle him and sometimes I don’t. I need to work on that, right, because I’m literally doing a video about play. 😂 It’s helpful when couples will engage in playful situations because it makes the relationship more fun and more enjoyable. Certainly, the times when I engage with the wrestling type play, it’s just more fun between us and we can laugh together and be a little bit goofy and silly. Being a little bit silly is so good for couples. This is especially true as adults because we sometimes forget how to play and make life more enjoyable. But, the more we can do play, the more relationship satisfaction goes way up. So that’s the other directed play.
The other type of play that they found was really helpful in relationship was intellectual play. These were things like word play or preferring complex situations instead of simplistic explanations. So if you can have conversations that are deep and enjoyable, maybe talking about things that you both enjoy, going deep intellectually can help couples increase. relationship satisfaction. I would expect that deep conversations require us to show some vulnerability with one another. The researchers found that intellectual play promotes relationship safety. For both husband and wife, safety makes them feel loved, cherished, and cared for. It also reduces conflict and tension. If you’re finding that you’ve had a lot of conflict and tension in your relationship, I would encourage you to see if there are things that you can do to engage in play. Maybe it’s just been a while since you’ve connected on a heart level and connected by having fun together. That can certainly be a reason for tension. Since you can reduce that tension by having more play time together, I encourage you to try that.
Learn From Children
If we look at children and the way that they play we can kind of understand how we can play with with one another in our relationship. Again, I’m talking about play in general here. Even so, you absolutely can make play part of your sexual experience together. When we look at kids, child psychology would teach that kids play together in different ways. As kids age and grow in maturity, they start realizing that other people exist in their world and they start learning to play with others. So at first, kids starts with what’s called parallel play. This means that each child is playing on their own, but playing in the same space. This is called parallel play. They’re not really playing together but they’re spending time together both in play. You can do this in your relationship as well. You could do this by building something together. Maybe each of you are engaged in your own task, but at the same time you’re in the room together. Maybe you like that intellectual stimulation and you read books together. You’re each reading your own book but every once in a while you talk about a talking point with that book. All of that can be a part of this play that you have in your relationship. Then you have the joint activities, like I gave you that wrestling example a minute ago. Anything you can do as a couple whether it’s board games or card games, or puzzles; anything that you do as a couple where both of you are engaged in the task at the same time with the same goal would be considered that joint activity. Both parallel play and play together are healthy in your relationship.
I said I wasn’t gonna emphasize sexual play but I do want to give just a couple of tips regarding what it looks like to play in your sexual intimacy. Here are a few things to try:
- Playful interactions as you’re getting ready to make love.
- Flirting with the way you kiss one another by using a little bit teasing but letting it also lead to intimacy.
- Giving each other nicknames that are that are sexual or sexy or giving each each other’s genitals nicknames.
- Joking and teasing with one another.
- Seducing and enticing one another.
All of these are ways to play. I encourage you to have a conversation with your spouse. Ask your spouse, “what kind of play is fun for you and what helps us connect in relationship?” It’s absolutely okay to also ask what kind of sexual play invites you into relationship by asking, “how can I approach you in ways that make you want to be intimate?” These are good conversations to have so I encourage you to do so. Until next time, God bless you, your marriage, and your intimacy.