By Bev and Phil Haas
Every year my husband and I make a few New Year’s resolutions. One that tops our list every year is to have more fun and less stress. But we rarely make it out of January before our resolutions fall by the wayside. I’d like to actually keep our resolution about having fun. We definitely need some of that in our marriage. Any suggestions?
Bev and I can certainly relate to your question. We are one of those couples who keep saying we want “more fun and less stress” in our lives as well. The interesting thing is we had lots of fun and little stress when we were first married. So what happened? We’re guessing the same thing that happens to all married couples—it’s called life!
We graduated from college and both got full-time jobs. Not long afterward, we purchased our first house and took on the responsibilities of home ownership. And then we started having kids. Over time, having fun took a back seat to other priorities in life.
The Importance of Fun
Having fun as a couple is essential to a satisfying marriage. New research on marital satisfaction underscores the importance of having fun in a relationship. Research has repeatedly found that the correlation between fun and marital happiness is highly significant. Even without consulting the research, most couples instinctively know their marriages are happier when they make time for fun. But as most married couples learn, fun is the first thing to fall by the wayside as the demands of life pile up.
There is a long list of benefits to increasing fun in your marriage. Here are a few: having more fun promotes spontaneity when life becomes routine or boring, connects us with positive emotions, reminds us of the good in our relationship, creates good memories, and gives us hope when working through difficult challenges.
Overcoming Barriers to Fun
The daily grind can keep you from enjoying your marriage, or you can choose to enjoy your marriage in the midst of the grind. You already know you want to have more fun and less stress, so how can you make that happen this year?
• Schedule some fun. Upward of 80 percent of our lives are scheduled, so why not schedule some fun? When we agree on a date and time and put it on our calendars, we’re more likely to make it happen. How about scheduling a weekly or monthly date? At our church we encourage every couple to have a regular date.
• Give yourself permission to be a kid again. It’s easy to get caught up in the seriousness of life and not allow yourself to have some serious fun. Did you know that the average child laughs some 400 times per day, compared to the average adult who laughs less than 15 times a day? Lighten up and laugh more. Milton Berle said, “Laughter is an instant vacation.”
• Try something new. When Bev and I thought about words that describe our marriage lately, we came up with routine and predictable. Ouch—not words we want to choose. But we had to admit they were dead-on. As a result, we are now making a conscious effort to try something new and different, and the rule is neither of us can complain. We are having fun doing things we never thought we’d enjoy. We’ve discovered that trying something new can bring back the fun factor.
• Budget for some fun. We tend to hold on too tightly to money, especially Phil. Yes, we both agree that we need to save for retirement, but we decided not to put fun on hold until then. For most couples money is tight, but there are ways to find what we like to call “fun money.” There are lots of fun things that are free, but sometimes we need to spring for something fun that costs us. Bev has a can where she stashes extra money. Last summer we took a vacation that was mostly paid for from that stash.
Part of God’s purpose for marriage is for us to enjoy life with our spouse. Our paraphrase of Ecclesiastes 9:9 is that God intends for you to enjoy your marriage in the midst of the grind. This year don’t miss out on what God wants for your marriage. Find ways to enjoy life together in the midst of whatever the new year brings.
Send your questions about family life to Bev and Phil Haas in care of The Lookout (firstname.lastname@example.org). We regret that personal replies are not always possible. Bev and Phil Haas are involved in education and family ministry in Cincinnati, Ohio. They have two children and two grandsons.