FUN. Many people in relationships have underestimated the importance of fun. Couples often wistfully remember the activities and excitement at the beginning of their relationship – all that fun! However, we have had couples in therapy who have to think long and hard to remember fun activities from early in their relationship. As life moves on and people become busier with their overscheduled lives, they can take each other for granted. Fun often becomes secondary, almost trivial in comparison to responsibilities. In reality, researchers are finding fun is far from trivial in healthy relationships. In fact, researchers found that the happiest couples report having a higher level of fun in their relationship.

There’s an increased benefit to relationships when the fun involves something new, different, or exciting. That could be dancing, a concert, a new restaurant, a different walking path, a different group of friends, a board game or playing cards designed for couples, wine tasting, a MeetUp group, visiting a brand-new place on a Sunday afternoon drive – anything you don’t typically do. Fun does not have to be expensive! Yes, it can be an elaborate vacation or fine dining, but it can also come in the form of reminiscing, coffee on the porch, a bike ride, hike, card game . . .

It is not only important to schedule fun; it’s also important to protect it. If conflict from a disagreement or the outside world arises while you are having a fun moment with your partner, decide if it is important. If it’s not an immediate issue, shelve it until after your activity so you both can be present in the moment. Prioritizing fun together sends a message to both partners that quality time together matters. There’s always time to disagree or deal with the outside world later, don’t let it erase the kind of fun relationships require to remain healthy.

Fun doesn’t always happen spontaneously. It often must be planned and part of your regular routine. It can easily slide into the category exercise often does – bottom of the to-do list and the first thing that gets cut when life gets busy. Schedule it weekly and fiercely protect that time.

If you’re on the fence about adding fun activities in your relationship due the pressures of raising children, hear us clearly: The best gift you can give your children is a strong relationship with your partner. Children of all ages get a sense of security when adults in the house have a healthy relationship. There’s a reason we see an uptick in divorce when the youngest child leaves the home. If a relationship hasn’t been nurtured, it won’t be healthy and rewarding after the children leave. We want you to have so much fun and affection with your partner that it makes your children groan.

If your primary relationship isn’t fun, examine why. It can simply be neglect, a bad habit, poor prioritizing, or lack of awareness of its importance. Talk to your partner; what better message is there than ‘I want to have fun with you!’? If you truly want a happy relationship, you need to give yourself permission to make your partner a priority and the responsibility to make it happen.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash