As we planned our retirement, one of our goals was to get away for a little while from the cold winter weather of Chicago. So, today’s Blog is coming to you from sunny Puerto Rico where the temperature is 80 degrees, while The Weather Channel reports that Chicago is bracing for a blizzard and up to 20 inches of snow. We are blessed!
Since we are combining some play time with a little work, we decided to share some of our thoughts about the role of “play” in a marriage. A dictionary defines play as to move lightly or rapidly or to amuse oneself. We are putting some effort into amusing ourselves. We took a walk together and enjoyed the warm air while getting some exercise this morning. We have amused each other with inside jokes and comments as we lay on the beach and enjoyed the breeze and Caribbean waves this afternoon.
While most of us think about Jesus calling us to pray or teaching us how to pray, the Gospels also tell us that Jesus took breaks from his preaching and teaching. He amused himself with the little children and rebuffed the disciples when they tried to shoo them away. In Mark’s Gospel (Ch 6) we read that Jesus had sent his disciples on a successful journey of preaching and healing. On their return, they were elated at their success, but exhausted, so He took them away “to a quiet place” for some R&R (playtime) and a chance to share their journeys with each other.
Many married couples also have largely separate journeys in their busy days and need to get together periodically in a “quiet place” to catch up with each other, play and be amused by each other. In this culture children have play dates and we are concerned that teens who are stressed take a little fun time. For adults, by contrast, we now have guys and girls separate weekends and the man cave or its female equivalent to provide some space from which the other is excluded. Those things are not bad in themselves, but how do they affect a couple’s time for playing together?
The question, then, is: “How often and how well do we play together as a couple and what do we do in our playtime?” Don’t jump to the conclusion that we are referring to sex. It may sometimes be part of it, but playtime must be broader than that.
Adults often associate playtime with spending large amounts of money – “Let’s get tickets to a play, concert or sports event.” That works for some couples. Our oldest son and daughter (in-law), who, along with parenting three children and both having very demanding jobs, try to go to Las Vegas alone together at least once a year. They see shows, eat at nice restaurants, gamble a little but mostly go to have a place to get reacquainted and play together. They are fortunate enough to have a mother (in-law) who willingly cares for their children.
During much of our married life we did not have the financial resources or family who lived near to care for our children, but we found ways to have playtime. It began in many ways before we were married. Being self supporting college students during our dating years we visited furniture stores and bookstores as a free place to spend time. We joked and laughed about book titles and furniture styles that neither of us liked. Not long after we were married and began to think about purchasing a home of our own we spent time touring model homes. We have continued to do so through the years. It’s free and we get some good decorating ideas, as well as seeing some that make us gag, but that’s part of the fun. We’ve never been big TV watchers, movie fans or sports people, but have always had fun with intellectual pursuits as we followed politics, read books and exchanged ideas about how to make the world a better place. In the exchange of ideas we moved lightly and amused ourselves. Beyond that we often had good conversations on walks together and found time to enjoy each others’ company on trips to the supermarket together. We found that we could talk or maybe play Scrabble when children took naps or in the evening after the kids were all in bed.
Without family nearby, we occasionally made arrangements with friends to watch the kids while we went to dinner or a play or even overnight. Another time we would take their children. Sometimes we just stayed home and had a quiet dinner, with the fireplace going and a glass of wine and, on occasion, time for playful intimacy.
Playing together decreases tension between us. Laughing together makes some issues seem less important and helps us to remember our love for each other when the tough ones arise. Making decisions and solving differences is easier as the focus is on our awareness of being with the other person more than being right or proving the other wrong.
In the next couple of weeks, make time in your schedules for a little playtime for the two of you. If you are in the area that is hit with the snow, put the kids to bed, then go out and make snow angels or build a snowman/woman. Come in and warm up each other. The kids will love it in the morning. Keep playing and, if you’d like, share your favorite way to play with us.
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