Question from Reader
Every year my husband and I make a few New Year’s resolutions. One resolution that tops our list every year is to have more fun and less stress. The problem is we rarely make it out of January before our resolutions fall by the wayside. I’d like for this to be the year that we actually keep our resolution about having fun. We definitely need some of that in our marriage. Any suggestions?
Answer from Phil Haas, Family Pastor at 1st Church of Christ in Burlington, KY
Bev, my wife, and I can certainly relate to your question. We are one of those couples that 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 afterwards 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. Okay, you get the picture.
The Importance of Fun
A simple definition of fun is “something that brings enjoyment, amusement or light hearted pleasure.” 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. Over and over research has found that the link or 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, it’s the fun that’s first to fall by the wayside as the demands of life pile up.
The point we’re making is that fun is more than a New Year’s resolution or an indulgence; fun is instrumental in having a more satisfying marriage. 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 more good memories, and gives us hope when working through difficult challenges. If you want to have a more satisfying marriage and less stress, inserting more fun into life is a good place to start.
Overcoming Barriers to Having More Fun
You already know you want to have more fun and less stress, so how can you make that happen this year? The daily duties (or grind as we like to call it) can keep you from enjoying your marriage or you can choose to enjoy your marriage in the midst of the grind. Here are some of the most common obstacles that most couples must overcome in order to have more fun.
- Schedule some fun. With the hectic schedules that most couples have today; you need to schedule time for fun. Upwards of 80% 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 so 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 four hundred times per day compared to the average adult laughing less than fifteen 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 would 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 tight 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 her can.
The bottom line is that every couple must learn how to enjoy their marriage in the midst of the grind of daily life. 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.