Great communication, intimacy, trust, and commitment are all roads that lead back to the same goal: to enjoy a lifetime adventure together.
A successful relationship isn’t the absence of pain; it’s the presence of joy. So often, people with the best intentions understand that “relationships are hard work,” and they work so hard that they forget to make time for hopes, dreams, play, and just plain fun.
Making life dreams come true
“Making Life Dreams Come True” is one of the core elements that leads to long-term relationship success according to the research of Dr. John Gottman and his team. Couples who honor one another’s hopes and ambitions are more likely to stay together than those who don’t. It doesn’t have to be extreme or profound. It could be as simple as signing up for a pottery class together because you know your partner loves ceramics.
Here are three quick and easy steps you can try this week:
Step 1. Prioritize joy
Remember the reason why you’re in a relationship in the first place. You want to enjoy your life side-by-side with your loved one.
You probably didn’t choose your partner for their conflict management skills. You felt a vibe. Maybe it was the moment you first met, your first date, or first kiss. Somewhere along the way, there was something that just worked.
Remember that giddy feeling you used to feel looking forward to the next time you’d be getting together? It’s time to get that back.
After a long day working or parenting (or both), couples are often exhausted. They might be too tired to have interesting conversations or joke around.
Prioritizing joy in your relationship means finding a way to say “no” to a few other things every day. There are probably many demands on your time and energy. If you say “yes” to all of them, your own happiness may take a backseat without you noticing. Maybe some emails or phone calls can wait until later.
That way, you’ll have a bit more energy for interesting conversations or playful interactions with your partner.
Step 2: Don’t wait for fun. Go get it now.
There are a lot of tedious tasks we need to do every single day.
It’s no wonder we find ourselves dreaming about spontaneous getaways to exotic islands while doing the dishes every day.
But a common mistake couples make is to wait for weekends or even vacations to have fun. A little creativity can go a long way in finding ways to bring amusement into otherwise dull activities.
When my kids were little, they loved to dump out the entire bin of those plastic building blocks on the floor. And they’d build all kinds of amazing machines and towers.
Have you ever stepped on one of those blocks on a hardwood floor with bare feet? I have. I’ve given birth to two children, and I’m not sure which hurts more!
Usually, I’d react in one of two ways.
- I’d curse under my breath and start picking up the blocks because I could do it lightning fast on my own.
- I’d set up a race to see who could win the most points in the “10-minute tidy.”
Obviously, we can’t make a game out of every single chore, but doing it now and then can weave more fun into everyday life. And adults benefit from play just as much as kids.
Here are some action steps you can take to make yours and your partner’s everyday life more playful and chores less dreadful:
- Send a flirty emoji in the middle of a workday
- If you must talk about your budget, do it at your favorite brunch place
- Run errands together instead of dividing and conquering
FREE RESOURCE: The Gottman Institute has an app with 14 decks of cards for couples. The games are designed to bring play into “relationship work.” Click here for more info.
Step 3: Plan your adventures
Sometimes “working on your relationship” requires things like setting up childcare, making dinner reservations, or brainstorming inexpensive excursions. Date nights won’t happen if time isn’t carved out. But the good news is that most people find the planning to be less arduous than they think it will be once they sit down to do it.
I’ve been a couples therapist for almost 30 years, and it still surprises me how much easier it is for couples to talk about conflict than to plan consistent date nights. I put together a date night planner to make a game out of choosing your favorite date ideas and dreaming up your bucket lists. You can get your copy here.
‘A spoonful of sugar’
There are a lot of bitter pills to swallow in life and relationships. It will be so much easier when you and your partner get in the habit of looking for—as Mary Poppins would say—that “spoonful of sugar.”
By remembering these three tips, you can add play and adventure back into your lives. Have fun!
Having fun together is just one of the elements of a solid relationship that lasts a lifetime. Let the Gottmans help you out of your rut and into your happily ever after. Order their all-new Relationship Coach, Building a Life Together, today!