Picture this: You and your partner jump in the car and take a spontaneous road trip in search of the ‘world’s best’ gelato. Maybe you crack jokes as you tackle housework, turning it into a lighthearted competition to see who can fold laundry the fastest. Or maybe you’re dancing in the kitchen, whipping up dinner together to your favourite playlist. No matter what life throws at you or what responsibilities you may have on your plates, the playfulness in your relationship helps everything to feel a little bit brighter.
Infusing your relationship with humour, excitement, and a sense of joy can help deepen your connection and keep things from becoming stale or routine. Unfortunately, as we navigate life’s many ups and downs, sometimes the bright, playful spark we once had with our partner can start to dim.
As you become more comfortable together, go through major life events or even navigate parenthood, it can be easy for the playful moments of the honeymoon period to gradually slip away. Is your relationship due for a ‘playfulness’ reboot? Here are some symptoms to look out for:
1. The relationship often feels heavy or tense with minimal opportunities for laughter and joy.
2. Communication is forced, strained or lacking. You may struggle to communicate as your authentic self.
3. One or both partners feel unfulfilled or unappreciated, and their emotional needs are not being met.
4. Your daily routines and interactions have become stagnant. Your time together may be focused on housework, bills, parenting, your jobs, or de-stressing by staring at your screens.
5. The playful touch in your relationship has waned and there is a noticeable decrease in physical touch. Activities like tickling, playful wrestling, dancing together, and flirting happen far less frequently than they used to.
The power of play
More than a ‘nice to have’, in many ways, keeping a playful spark in your relationships is a ‘need to have’ if you want your relationship to remain strong and healthy. Playfulness offers many benefits that can significantly enhance the quality of your relationship.
Strengthens emotional bonds
Playful interactions create positive memories and shared experiences that bring couples closer together. Laughing and having fun together can foster a deeper emotional connection and improve the overall mood in your relationship.
Reduces stress and tension
When you engage in playful activities together, it provides a healthy outlet for releasing built-up tension, so you can let go of worries and focus on the present moment. Playful moments can also boost endorphins – your body’s feel-good chemicals – helping to decrease feelings of stress and anxiety. Furthermore, playfulness can also promote a positive and relaxed atmosphere, which can diffuse any potential conflict before it has a chance to escalate.
When you and your partner are engaged in playful activities together, you’re more likely to open up and share your thoughts and feelings in a non-threatening environment. This can lead to deeper and more meaningful conversations as you both feel more relaxed and comfortable expressing yourselves.
Enhances overall relationship satisfaction
Adding laughter, fun and excitement to your relationship can rekindle the spark and reignite your love for one another, leading to a more fulfilling and satisfying relationship.
Why playfulness declines
Busy schedules and daily responsibilities
Over time, work, errands, and other commitments leave little time for fun and games. You may both work full-time and/or care for children, all while juggling the hundreds of other little tasks life can throw your way. In the early days of dating, your romantic life was given a special time slot outside of these things. But as relationships progress (and particularly as you start living together, get married or have children), the demands of daily life often override the time you used to dedicate entirely to enjoying your partner’s company.
Lack of creativity and effort
Do you often find that you and your partner spend your weeknights parked in front of the TV, or maybe you’re in the habit of grabbing takeaway from the same old restaurant each weekend? Let’s be honest, when we feel secure in our relationship, we may stop putting in the same level of effort we used to put into impressing (and even entertaining) our partner. In the early days, you may have gone out of your way to demonstrate how interesting, thoughtful, adventurous, funny and generous you were capable of being. Is it possible you’ve become complacent?
Stress and burnout
Feeling overwhelmed by work deadlines, financial stress, or caring for a loved one can leave you with little energy for anything else. Perhaps you’re no longer participating in the things that once brought you and your partner joy. The decline in doing things you once loved can further strain your relationship and create a negative cycle if steps aren’t taken to interrupt it.
Negative patterns in communication and interaction
Over time, have you found that you and your partner criticise and argue with each other more frequently? While it may be challenging in the heat of the moment, intentionally taking a playful and lighthearted approach can help to diffuse tension, encourage forgiveness and bring laughter back into your relationship.
5 steps for reigniting the joy
If it’s been a long time since your relationship felt ‘playful’, you may be at a loss for where to start. Luckily, bringing back playfulness doesn’t need to be complicated, it can be as simple as incorporating a few intentional habits into your daily routine. The following easy (and fun) to follow steps will help:
1. Make time for play
Dedicate time each week to activities that bring you both joy and laughter. This could be something as simple as playing a board game or as adventurous as giving skydiving a go. The key is making play a priority in your lives. And just as you would with any other priority, it’s a good idea to actually put it in your diary and hold yourself accountable to follow through with it.
2. Get creative and try new things
Whatever new activities you choose, the key here is to push your boundaries, challenge yourselves, and have some fun in the process. Whether you take a fitness class, try your hands at pottery, or volunteer together, stepping outside of your comfort zones will help you to grow as a couple as you make some new memories together.
3. Practise mindfulness and relaxation
Take a break from the hustle and give yourselves a moment to let go of your collective stress and worries. Do whatever it is that helps you to ‘reset’ and find your inner calm. You might choose to go for a hike or a bike ride together, sip coffee while admiring a scenic view, or snuggle up and read books side by side. The goal is to slow down, unwind, and savour each other’s company in a low-key, relaxed setting.
4. Foster positive communication
Make a conscious effort to listen more, appreciate each other’s strengths, and find common ground. Share funny stories and jokes with each other, look for humour in everyday moments, and don’t take yourself too seriously – embrace silly moments and find ways to bring more laughter into the conversation.
5. Work with a coach
A coach can assist you in identifying and overcoming negative patterns, provide an outside perspective to view the relationship differently, and help you come up with creative solutions to help reignite your romantic spark. The coaching experience is a safe and supportive space to help you experiment, have more fun and discover new ways of rekindling playfulness and intimacy with your partner. You’ll be laughing, playing and making life-long memories in no time!
Today’s action steps
Ready to invite playfulness back into your relationship? Here’s how you and your partner can take action right away:
Option 1: Spend a few minutes discussing a new hobby or activity that you’d like to do together. Make reservations where needed, or at the very least, schedule times in both of your diaries dedicated to your ‘try-something-new’ date. If your first attempt at paddle boarding, cake decorating or whatever else you’ve chosen goes well, give each other plenty of praise and celebrate your success. And if the activity proves tricky, messy or borderline disastrous – share in the laughter together. Either way, it’s a win.
Option 2: Set the intention to behave as your ‘first date’ self, especially when it would make a noticeable difference to your partner. When are you at your worst around them? Whether it’s walking through the door after work, or after you’ve tucked your toddler into bed for the fifth time, take a moment to pause and breathe deeply.
Imagine that you have not been with this person for one, ten or thirty years; but that they are about to meet you for the first time. What kind of energy would you bring? What kind of questions would you ask them? What stories would you share? What would you do to keep your interactions fun? Do your best to put your stresses and baggage aside, and be that version of yourself.
By embracing playfulness with purpose and consistency, you have the power to transform your relationship into a joyous, unforgettable journey. With small but consistent effort, your relationship satisfaction will soar! Make a commitment to have fun, play and cherish every moment with your loved one. Your relationship deserves nothing less!
Would you like one-on-one support for ideas on how to reignite the playfulness in your relationship? Book a session with one of our outstanding relationship coaches today!