COLUMN: The couples that play together, stay together

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Courtesy of Hometown Content

By John Lapp

What in the world does it mean for a couple to play together and stay together? Are you telling me that if we play together, we will more than likely stay together for the long haul? Yes.
Now that I’ve got your attention, let’s explain what this really means as it relates to the full enjoyment of your marriage.
First of all, there is still a child in each of us, me included, although I cannot play things I once did when I was much more physically flexible and even more daring. I no longer climb trees or tumble across the grass with no thought about the potential danger associated with this type of child play.
I may suppress this child in me as I will eventually grow up and mature, but I hope that I will never outgrow the need and desire for fun.
So, what does it mean for a couple to play together? Well, let’s start out by stating a few things it does not mean. It does not mean that our fun together is based on a competitive model of who is the better player in a game, or the important thing when playing is always to win.
For example, for those who would like to go to a tennis court and have some fun, if this is your idea of having fun and playing, then play for the fun of it — that’s all.
If you are a better player and even more athletic, then pick a friend with whom to play tennis whose ultimate goal is to win and with that in mind, just go ahead and try to win. But, when playing tennis, or any other sport or game (bowling, a friendly game of cards, etc.), you should be playing for the enjoyment of being with your special person for the pure enjoyment of laughing, even if you lose.
When we had a recent electrical storm here in Taylorsville, and we chose to pull the plugs on the TV sets and computer, we pulled out the cards and played a fun game of Rummy ... and yes, Mrs. Lapp won, and she won by a great margin. And no, I didn’t let her win because I am such a loving husband and didn’t want to beat her. She won, hands down, and did it legitimately ... no slight of hand.
In our dating years, I would have been considered a “bowling nut,” as it was my sport of choice and I was competing in three leagues per week, and practicing for several hours on Saturday. But when we went bowling, and she was not as proficient, and my scores were always quite good, it didn’t matter. I was not out to show her how good I was, as she already was aware of that.
I have heard from some couples who attempt to have fun together, but the competition is so fierce that it turns into a battle that eventually takes away from the fun that was the real design and desire for the activity.
Another major factor about continuing to play together, no matter what age or physical condition you are currently struggling with, couples lose their playfulness. What has happened is that life includes everyday responsibilities, schedules, work, child care, dealing with problems or worries about making ends meet and can eventually squeeze the fun out of your time together and can actually bring the marriage relationship to not much more than the same ol’, same ol’ thing.
Along with that, many have been raised with an age-old philosophy that playing is “childish,” as in not for grownups. The message that gets played in your head is “I shouldn’t play until the work is done,” and, of course, the work is rarely or never done.
Some even think that playing is a waste of valuable time and misuse of energy: “to play is to spend time and energy which is not productive.” If you are the sort of person who always needs to be “grown up” and act responsibly, it may help you to realize that couples who take time to play together tend to have more energy,
communicate better, are able to solve problems easier and faster and don’t waste so much time hassling and arguing.
If you have not been having much fun in your relationship, be bold enough to explore with each other what is fun for each of you and what you may be able to develop in your life that helps you to enjoy some activities together.
A not-so-good example is the husband who claimed “we have fun together. I like golfing, and I enjoy her going with me and she always drives the golf cart.” Now, there’s nothing wrong with them doing that on occasion. But, if that is his regular idea of having fun together, he might better drive his own golf cart and let her go to the yard/garage sales with a friend. That is not what is meant by playing together.
Finally, it must be stated here: because you do not include playing together as a regular part of your marriage, someone else may come along and sneak into your otherwise fairly good marriage relationship by offering your mate what is sorely lacking — namely having fun and playing together. Don’t turn fun into work, a chore that is a necessary thing to do.
Never forget that having fun, playing together, is a way of life. Don’t make life so serious that there is never room for play. And, don’t use the shop-worn statement, “Well, we don’t have a lot of money to go out and spend, like other couples can.” That does not fly. Go to the store, buy a deck of cards, or a table game or two, get some popcorn, sit down together, and have fun.
Even enjoy it when you don’t win. Maybe you’ll find that losing may begin to win your relationship back.
For more information, call 477-2818. May God bless you today.