by April Boddie
You’ve been married for a year. Now what? I am tempted to detail all of the descriptive ways marriage can be great then suck, but then I don’t really have to do that because you can read any supermarket tabloid covering the latest dying celebrity marriage.
So, let’s get right to it. The odds of being happily married for a long time, i.e., more than 10 years, are not in your favor. However, if you are open to some preventative care, you can better your odds.
So, we know about the “falling in love” part and most of us do that fairly well. It is the “keeping the love” part that is hard. When people come together to share a life, they often forget that they are two people from different households with different ways of doing things. This is why the first year is tough, but since you are probably still sexually into each other, it is easier to ignore many things.
We’re going to start here.
It sets the tone for the life of the relationship. Use the first year as an opportunity to develop the “us” way of doing things.
Why is this important?
Two things: having an “us” operations manual cuts down on repeat arguments and more importantly, it facilitates the “couple bubble.” Being a couple nowadays is harder because of the daily pressures we face to make it in the world.
In Wired for Love, Stan Tatkin, PSYD, describes the couple bubble as “the mutually constructed membrane, cocoon, or womb that holds a couple together and protects each partner from outside elements.”
Inside the bubble, room is available for exploration from a place of security; each person knowing that when they want to try new things, they have a place to come back to.
And you thought I was going suggest activities to make marriage fun, like dinner parties, plays and such, right?
Ok, don’t get me wrong, those things ARE fun and yes, you should do them, but it is easy to confuse fun activities with a fun marriage. When the babies show up or work intensifies and the fun activities have to take a back seat, a couple might find themselves just married with children.
So, what does a fun marriage look like?
Two people that can and do enjoy each other’s company without hoopla. For example, going to the grocery store together is fun for this couple.
The ingredients for a fun marriage are curiosity, playfulness, compassion and emotional intelligence. For the sake of time, I am only going to focus on playfulness. Playfulness looks like the low hanging fruit on the list, but with our busy lives, it is actually the hardest to access, especially for women. A smart man told me a woman that plays is more attractive because it accesses his feelings causing emotional dependency (his deepest desire). Look at how close teammates are on football teams.
Here are some simple ways to keep, grow, and nurture playfulness in your relationship.
- Make it a priority to play with your partner. Schedule time if necessary, but make play part of the “us” operations manual.
- Laugh at your mistakes. Sometimes we get so serious about marriage that we forget to laugh at ourselves. There is nothing that takes the edge off more than a good laugh.
- Choose your play platform. It could be strip poker, hide and seek, rock, paper, scissors, or golf. What’s important is that there is a place to play together.
- Rejoice in the quiet spaces. Use the quiet spaces for clearing negative energy and to build positive energy for play.
- Find other couples that model playful couple bubble behavior. This one takes some extra effort, but it will pay off in two ways. You will have living examples to observe and experience as well as implicit support that like-minded couples can offer one another.
May the odds be ever in your favor!
April Boddie is a Blogger and Relationship Coach, who specializes in helping people choose partners intentionally. She is known for her non-judgmental and caring approach to relationship issues, boiling the complexity down to the manageable. She teaches women to be happy with themselves first because a happy woman is a sexy woman. Her posts on relationships can be found on Grow Your Love Life.