The Recipe for Life-Long Love
We commonly hear people utter the phrase “Love takes work.” At its core, I take this clique saying to mean, “If you don’t continually prioritize your partner, your romance will fade and fizzle.” I agree. But I think a more accurate phrasing would read, “Love takes play.” Work feels laborious, tedious… and generally not a whole lot of fun. Play feels much different; play feels enjoyable and light-hearted… and is (actually) beneficial to your relationship.
All (by "all"I mean "a tiny peek into") the deats on my love story.
I married Jason six years ago, after a short stint of dating (all long-distance). And I very distinctly remember two things about when we first met and did the gross heart-eyed flirty thing to see how much we liked each other:
1) I felt comfortable being myself around him and
2) He was (and still is) such a goof-ball.
I am pretty certain those are the two reasons I chose him, and those are two solid reasons why we are still happily married. Jason honors me and doesn’t hesitate for a moment to let down his guard in the name of silly nonsense. Listen, I’m not saying it’s been all roses and rainbows and non-stop smiles. We (like ALL couples) have experienced significant challenges. And when things get rough—I notice one thing is always the same: we aren’t playing. When we are light and laughing, I am confident that we can handle freakin’ anything. It’s the Robinsons v The World. But when busy schedules, insane stress at work, or a sometimes tyrant toddler get the best of us, we become rigid and our energy is heavy… we push play to the back burner and our marriage feels like walking a tight-rope. When we lose our sense of humor, the smallest of incidents feels insurmountable. I have witnessed this dynamic so many times. Jason and I are better when we play together. Love is stronger when play is present.
Playing together helps couples rekindle their love & explore other forms of emotional intimacy
Stuart Brown, MD
I do not claim to be an expert on love and romance, but I have research on my side. Studies show that acts of humor and play (think cute nicknames, playful teasing, and shared laughter) de-escalate all the tension of the stressful times of a marriage and produce happiness in the relationship. It’s one thing to be married for a lifetime, and it’s a totally different thing to feel in love and fulfilled in your marriage for a lifetime. FACT: Divorce rate is high and marriage satisfaction is low. So, how do we move towards keeping marriages (and families) not just together, but happily together? Longitudinal research shows these four behaviors are vital for building strong partnerships.
4. Disclosure (referring to emotional openness and non-judgment)
Humor! Yes! However, there’s a caveat here. When talking about humor as it relates to enhancing and deepening romance, it’s not enough for your significant other to be funny. For example, dating a comedian does not necessarily guarantee a happy relationship. What’s meaningful is that you and your partner laugh TOGETHER!!! You relish their sense of humor and engage in things together that bring enjoyment...that's the winning "humor recipe."
A couple other ways to revive all the butterflies and tingly feels in your romance is to try new things; mix it up. As humans we “attune” to our circumstances over time. Meaning, the things that once brought us so much joy wears off a bit and we get accustomed to that as the new normal. Don’t feel guilty about it – we (as a species) have evolved this way… and actually for good reason. This phenomenon keeps us seeking novelty, and keeps us willing to try new things, keeps us curious and adaptable. You do not need to go to exotic places or spend much time or money to engage in new things as a couple for the sake of long-lasting love. Play slap-jack, tell a dirty joke, drive a different way home from the grocery store and admire peoples’ flower beds, go through old photos and reminisce, play a game of charades, blast the music and dance in the living room, give an unexpected kiss (or better yet, ass-grab) as your love is making a meal…you get the point. Spice it up. Laugh together. Be willing to be the first to laugh at yourself. Please, just don’t take it all so seriously.