Time to Play: With the One You Love

I met my husband when I was 15 years old. We dated for nearly five years before we wed, which was immediately after I graduated from college, and have now been married almost 22 years. We’ve truly grown up together. We knew each other as goofy teenagers, dazed and confused twenty-somethings, deep-in-the-trenches-with-little-kids thirty-somethings, and on to early-forty-ites trying to figure out the whole teenage thing once again. Only on the other side.

All throughout our illustrious marital career, one of the primary saving graces has been my husband’s sense of humor. A mix of desert dry wit and off-the-wall wacky. We’re not afraid to look stupid or ridiculous in front of one another now because, honestly, after this many years the jig is up. There’s nothing left to hide. And because we’ve discovered that one of the truest ways to connect deeply and seriously with each other is by being a bit superficial and silly.

When we take time to strip away our grown-up titles, relinquish the need to keep up appearances, and “go there”, deep into a playful experience, we uncover a sweet spot that reminds us why we fell in love with each other in the first place. Because those early days of courting and dating were probably quite playful, indeed. Play has the magical power to bring us back to our truest, most open selves. The ability to leap over worry, anxiety, and stress in a single bound.

There is a beautiful unspoken trust that bubbles up when we let our guards fall all the way down in the midst of a playful moment. A promise to laugh with each other and not at each other, to pick one another up if one falls, and to adore each other no matter how foolish and un-cool we might appear. Pure playfulness and the ability to tap into that inner 8-year-old just below the surface is one of the most endearing and downright sexy things to witness in your mate.

None of us “have the time” to play these days. None of us. But it’s a must-do. If we replace one movie night with a game of Scrabble, or one errand on a Saturday with 20 minutes of throwing a Frisbee or football together, or we make the choice to jump like fools on that trampoline together after the kids go to bed . . . the pixie dust will appear and the magic will happen. Just watch.

Here are a few ideas to try tonight!

  1. Grab a deck of cards and look up a new card game on the Internet neither of you knows. Learn it together and play.
  2. Pull out one of the board games collecting dust in your kids’ game cupboard and make it into a competition to see who can win.
  3. Ya know those video games your kids are rock stars at and that you are always nagging them to turn off? Yeah, take a night and you and your man beat the heck out of their high score.
  4. Make a playlist with a bunch of songs you listened to when you were dating. After the kids are in bed, slap it on and dance in the kitchen.
  5. If you happen to have a stash of Nerf blasters lying around, load ’em up and take them for a spin. Just sayin’.
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