By: Amy Van Veen
Is your marriage fun?
For a lot of people, that question is a no-brainer. “Of course we’re having fun!” they say. But for many, this question makes them realize it’s been a long time since “fun” has been a word to describe their relationship.
Too often we get stuck in the grind of life and forget there’s a season for everything – including laughter! The good news is you don’t need to be a comedian to bring the fun back into your marriage.
“I just try to find simple ways every day to make [my wife] laugh,” Ted Cunningham explains in a Focus on the Family interview. “For the average guy who says, ‘I don’t write jokes. I don’t write humorous stories. I can’t deliver one-liners that work’ – there’s plenty you can do to bring that humour, that laughter, that fun, that play into your marriage in very simple, practical and, dare I say, quick ways.”
In his studies* on the effects of laughter, Dr. Robert Provine has found that laughter is less about telling jokes and more about building connection in relationships. Laughter, he notes, plays an especially big role in fostering intimacy and romance in marriage.
Interestingly, one of Provine’s findings is that laughter tends to decline as we get older – making it all the more important for couples of all ages to make sure they’re having fun.
If you’re not sure how to bring laughter back into your relationship, here are five ideas to get you started with examples from real-life couples who are taking a cue from Ecclesiastes 9:9 and enjoying life with their spouse whom they love.
1. Explore your shared interests
The best place to start is to take a look at your shared interests. What do you enjoy doing together? What hobbies did you have as a dating couple?
Rolf and Nadia have been together for over 20 years and both enjoy the great outdoors and going kayaking. With tweens in the house, they make sure they still set aside time for just the two of them to enjoy their favourite hobbies.
2. If you don’t seem to have shared interests, make a Venn diagram
You may have more interests in common than you think; you just haven’t discovered them yet. Draw a circle that includes your hobbies and a circle of your spouse’s hobbies and see where there are similarities. Perhaps you both like to do to do things outdoors like Rolf and Nadia. Or maybe you both like activities where you get to be creative. Find the overlap in your Venn diagram of hobbies and give them a try!
Heidi and Jer have very different interests. Their hobbies are different, as are their tastes in movies, music and books. They eventually realized, though, that they both enjoy being goofy and watching silly comedies together. Jer, a natural prankster, makes sure they have fun every day – even after 15 years.
“Our [tween] boys roll their eyes,” Heidi adds, “but we think it’s important for them to see an example of a fun, healthy marriage.”
3. If you don’t have any common interests, try your spouse’s favourite hobby and vice versa
Cathy and Jeremy have been married for over 30 years and still make fun time together a priority. They’re part of a board game club and a walking club, combining their shared hobbies with the benefits of a social community. Even though their interests overlap in a lot of areas, one of the places they differ is literature – but that doesn’t stop them!
“We don’t read the same books, so we like to suggest our favourites to each other,” Cathy explains. “It gives us an opportunity to read something different and then we usually discuss them after reading them.”
If you feel as though you have nothing in common with your spouse, take an interest in something they love. They’ll feel appreciated knowing you’re willing to step outside of your box and you’ll get to know them better as a result.
Laura and Scott have yet to celebrate their first anniversary, but they’ve learned to do something similar to Cathy and Jeremy. Their Netflix queues can often look quite different from each other, so they make a point of sharing the remote and enjoying each other’s top picks. Instead of doing it begrudgingly, they have fun and make light of it, knowing shared time together is more fun than sitting in separate rooms with separate TVs.
4. Try something new that neither of you have done before
One great option – whether you have shared interests or not – is to try something that’s new to you and your spouse. By both being novices, you can avoid the dynamic where one of you feels confident and the other feels intimidated. Learn a language together. Take an art class. Go rock climbing. There’s a great sense of camaraderie when you’re both stepping into the unknown.
When they were dating a decade ago, Kas and Margo loved going out and trying new restaurants. Although they still try to go out, they have also found a way of bringing new restaurants home with them. One of their favourite eateries published a cookbook, so they borrowed it from the library and did the recipes themselves. It was a new experience for both of them, but they had fun trying new spices and techniques as they cooked dishes they would never have made on their own.
5. Keep it simple and make it doable
Having fun in your marriage doesn’t have to be complicated – it can just be adding levity to your everyday routines. As Ted Cunningham explains, “This can take minutes a day. I’m not talking about investing the whole day in it, but to be intentional with it.”
For Mary and Allan, walking their dog, Missy, is a fun opportunity to get out of the house and spend time together. After nearly 50 years, they’ve combined this routine with exploring new parks. This simple shared activity helps them focus on each other and enjoy the beauty of their city.
Ted Cunningham includes in the broadcast a call for all of us to set an example of a fun, thriving marriage – much like Heidi and Jer want to set for their sons:
“To me, part of painting a beautiful picture of marriage for the young people in our community and for the – dare we say it again – average couple in our community, is to not lead out with this: ‘It’s grueling; it’s painful. It’s toilsome.’ Okay, we’ll get to that, right. We’ll all process that at some point in our marriage, but to continue to paint this beautiful picture of companionship in marriage.”
God desires us to become more Christlike through marriage by learning selflessness, patience, grace and much more, but He also desires for us to be more like Him through laughter, joy and celebration. Be intentional, find something you can enjoy together and bring the fun back into your relationship!
*Source: Hara Estroff Marano, “The Benefits of Laughter,” Psychology Today, published April 29, 2003, last reviewed June 9, 2016.
Reprinted by permission. © 2018 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved.
Article supplied with thanks to Focus on the Family Australia.
About the Author: Amy is the editorial manager at Focus on the Family Canada. Focus on the Family provides relevant, practical support to help families thrive in every stage of life.