Have you ever witnessed children in play? How easy it is for them to laugh, dance, sing, use silly voices, imagine they are dinosaurs, play dress up with their friends for hours? Children are so natural at play because they lack the restrictions and limitations that get layered on as life happens. But what happens when you grow up? Play becomes so much harder. We have work and find ourselves dealing with relationship and financial issues, and then we have to get the kids to school, soccer practice, ballet class, etc.
Much of the work I do with couples in couples therapy and parents in my parent coaching sessions is focused around learning how to be your true self around your partner, and how to be more spontaneous and silly as a couple. Being silly creates connection which cultivates intimacy, which generates trust. It’s a circular thing, because you have to trust your partner to be silly with them, and you have to feel safe that if you try out a silly or playful activity, they will respond with warmth and care. You could set the stage by speaking with your partner before these activities and say something like, “I love being silly! I think it might make us more connected, will you try out some of these things with me?” (Be brave here! Your inner heart might be saying, “I’m scared he/she won’t respond and he/she will think I’m weird” - but, remember, I’m weird. You’re weird. We’re all weird, and it’s so important to keep trying to stay connected to your partner). See how your partner responds.
10 ways to be silly with your partner:
- Spoil your dinner with ice cream. Talk about your favorite ice cream, and try out each other’s favorite.
- Buy temporary color hair spray and try out rainbow hair. Surprise each other with a new hairdo!
- Talk in a silly voice and make up a secret, inside joke that only the two of you know.
- Do artwork together and put it up on your fridge.
- Build a blanket fort and drink hot chocolate together.
- Make giant bubble solution and blow bubbles together (it’s relaxing!)
- Cut snowflakes together and hang them up on the windows in your bedroom.
- Play a couples version of Pictionary. Draw things that are special and unique to your relationship history - see if your partner can guess what you are drawing! The sillier the drawing better.
- Plan an activity with your partner that feels kid-like: go to the zoo, or climb trees, or to a kid’s movie! It can feel so nice to be reminded of our childhood experiences, and when we do this with our partners, it expands our interpersonal connection in a deep and meaningful way.
- Sing a song to your partner, even if you don’t like your voice. Ask them to sing one to you back. Oh, and dance. Dance to your favorite song.
Some things to remember are that not everyone responds to playfulness in the same way, and a lot of people need a bit of time to get comfortable with the outside-the-box activities. Try one activity, and then go onto the next one, if the first one doesn’t work! Give space to your partner if they don’t respond right away. And, don’t forget to say thank you to your partner for experiencing your activity. Verbal appreciation can be very helpful in reinforcing what we want to happen again.
As we move into the new year from this holiday season, it can be stressful to think about expectations related to your relationship and the ever important, “date night.” But, try sitting down with your partner and taking just 10 minutes together to plan out some playful moments of connection, which don’t have to be limited to one specific night! I would love to hear about your silliest moments with your partner. Share below!