famous saying "families that play together stay together" could also extend to
that play together stay together." Joint leisure
are the fancy names experts use to describe
play. In other words, they describe adults having a fun time together. Play
is not just for kids. You are never too old to participate in wholesome, fun,
recreational activities, and doing so has benefits.
the past, the majority of researchers looked for a positive relationship
between play (or joint family leisure activities) and how satisfied
people were with their family life. However, husbands and wives were the
participants in those studies|not children|and they felt like family life was
much better when the family played together. Digging further, researchers
asked couples if spending time doing fun things together increased how
satisfied they felt in their marriages. So far, the findings are looking good,
and there is a positive connection between couples' playing together and
feeling satisfied with their marriages.
findings tell us that playing and spending fun time with your spouse can
improve your marriage. Some of the reasons why this is so are expressed below,
as well as types of activities that are beneficial. Regularly hanging out with
your spouse, just for fun (literally), can do the following:
positive communication between you
you develop a stronger friendship
your marriage at its core
If you feel like your marriage could use a good pick-me-up, try hanging out
with your spouse and doing recreational activities together. According to
family life and recreation scholars, taking time for recreation together will
"renew" your marriage. You will relate to your spouse in new ways by playing
together in a variety of settings. You will learn to depend on each other for
older woman invited her husband to garden with her. She had grown flowers for
decades, but always by herself. Her husband admired the garden, but considered
it his wife's domain. He was delighted and slightly intimidated when she asked
him to join her. Week after week she passed on her knowledge, showing him how
to use the tools, how to handle bulbs, and how and when to prune. He came with
her when she shopped for pots and plants and fertilizer. They worked side by
side from season to season. Over time, the couple saw gardening as a major
gift to their marriage. Their friendship grew and deepened and they grew more
satisfied with their marriage. They had renewed their marriage just by spending
more recreational time together..
Recreation will also make life more exciting and fight off boredom. Try
something new with your spouse. What kinds of activities could you take on
a dance class together.
one of you is a golfer, give your spouse a lesson or two.
someone in need together, and keep it a secret!
early morning walks.
possibilities are endless. Try one out and watch your boredom disappear.
positive communication. Did you know that playing together as a couple is
related to positive communication (encouraging each other, being friends)? By
playing together you'll increase the friendship in your marriage because of a new
common interest. You can talk to each other about your new experiences. Playing
together can also make conversation lighter. You'll be able to talk about
things that aren't about being a parent or a provider. This will make it
easier to relate to each other as friends, and friendship is at the core of a
Kinds of Activities?
activities come in a wide variety. Some can be long-term and character
building, some light and "just for fun", and other can become part of your
routine. The point is that you are doing things together, as a couple. Plan
some activities, but also allow yourselves to be spontaneous. Be flexible with
Intentional activities (activities you plan to do, and set aside time for) are
best, because they're much more likely to happen. Intentional activities can be
large things like weekend trips, training for a marathon shopping sprees, or
they can be small and simple, like playing sports, starting new hobbies, going
to cultural or sporting events, or even taking classes. "Be choosy" about how
you spend your recreational time together. Make some of it educational. You
can even get involved in your community.
Don't worry about planning out all of your leisure time, however. The
unplanned stuff is sometimes the best kind of recreation|whether it's playful
or "getting things done." Working around the house counts as recreational if
you're doing it together. One study found that extravagant outings were less
important to couples than the little, everyday things they did together. In
fact, being satisfied with everyday activities played the biggest role in couples
feeling satisfied with their marriages.
Make sure that both of you are happy with how you're spending your leisure time
together. Couples that are flexible and able to adjust to each other's needs
feel more satisfied in their marriages. Find a balance between activities
you're both used to and new activities. Talk with your spouse to make sure
their needs are being met. Being flexible means listening to what your spouse
says, being willing to try new things, repeating old, fun, activities, and changing
how much time you spend on activities, when necessary.
conclusion, couples that will look carefully at how they spend their leisure
time together are bound to feel more satisfied in their marriages. Remember, a
lot of things can be recreational. Feel free to use whatever activities work
for you and your spouse. Some can be work-like and others can be fun and playful.
What activities you choose are not as important as just spending time
together. Playing together not only helps couples stay together, but it also makes
the time that you spend together better. Playing together also makes conversation
a happier experience for couples. Making some of the separate leisure
activities in your life into shared adventures with your spouse will strengthen
your friendship and lead to a more fulfilling marriage.
by Staci Albrechtsen, Research Assistant, and edited by Stephen F. Duncan,
Professor, School of Family Life, Brigham Young University.
J. H., Ellis, G. D., & Baldwin, B. M. (1999). Marital satisfaction: An
examination of its relationship to spouse support and congruence of commitment
among runners. Leisure Sciences, 21, 117-131.
S. F., & Freeman, P. (2005). Protecting and balancing family time. In C. H. Hart, L.
D. Newell, E. Walton, & D. C. Dollahite (Eds.) Helping and healing our families:
Principles inspired by "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" (pp.
264-269). Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co.
J. M., & Silver, N. (1999). The seven principles for making marriage
work. New York: Three Rivers Press.
Presidency and Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints
(November 1995). The family: A proclamation to the world. Ensign, 25,
T. B., & Epperson A. (1989). Family and leisure: A review of literature
with research recommendations. Journal of Leisure Research, 16, 277-294.
T. B., & Jacquart, M. (1988). Leisure activity patterns and marital
satisfaction: A further test. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 50,
M., & Bernasco, W. (2001). Joint and separated lifestyles in couple
relationships. Journal of Marriage and Family, 63, 639-654.
C. (1971). Impact of differential leisure activities on intraspousal dynamics. Human
Relations, 24, 565-574.
S. M., & Dawson, D. (2001). Purposive leisure: Examining parental
discourses on family activities. Leisure Sciences, 23, 317-231.
G. T., Snyder, T. J., & Monsma, B. R. (1988). Predicting relationship
satisfaction from couples' use of leisure time. American Journal of Family
Therapy, 16(1), 3-13.
M. A., Cherrington, D. J., Hill, E. J., & Hill, B. J. (2001), Wholesome
family recreation. In D. C. Dollahite (Ed.), Strengthening our families: An
in-depth look at the proclamation on the family (pp. 190-201). Salt Lake
R. B., & McCormick, B. P. (2001). The influences of family leisure patterns
on perceptions of family functioning. Family Relations, 50, 281-289.
R. B., & McCormick, B. P. (2003). Parent and child perspectives of family
leisure involvement and satisfaction with family life. Journal of Leisure
Research, 35(2), 163-189.