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Diana Kirschner, a psychologist and the bestselling author of Sealing the Deal: The Love Mentor's Guide to Lasting Love (Center Street, 2011), offers tips on how to be more playful in your relationship.
1. Define fun as a couple
What is fun for you might differ drastically from what your partner finds enjoyable. Since relationships are about compromise, it's important that you and your partner come up with a definition of fun that works for the both of you.
"Your first question should be: 'What can we do to keep having fun together?'" says Kirschner. "Discuss this with your partner and bounce ideas off of each other." Once you're on the same page about what you both find enjoyable -- be it going out for dinner more often or spending more time with mutual friends -- you can find ways to make it happen.
2. Laugh with your partner
It can be so easy to get caught up in routine once you're in a committed relationship -- so why not lighten things up? Whether it's by watching funny movies, going to a comedy show, sharing funny moments from your days or clowning around, it can feel great to simply laugh together.
"Shared laughter is a great stress reliever and bonding agent," says Kirschner. "Humour can be used to validate the other person or for you to lightly make fun of your dramas, both offering different ways of showing appreciation."
Humour can also break through and defuse your arguments and soothe upset or bitter feelings. And according to Kirschner, research has shown that shared humour is a key component of a happy marriage. By infusing laughter into your days, you're sure to lighten things up and minimize stress.
Page 1 of 2 -- Find out how teasing your partner in a loving way can help bring playfulness back into your relationship on page 2.
3. Get active
Now that the weather is warmer and the sun is shining, it's the perfect time to get outside and shake things up. You could visit an amusement park, go on a helicopter ride, hit the trails for a hike or some mountain biking, have a foot race at the beach or even join a coed sports league together.
"This type of fun gets your adrenaline pumping and simulates the speedy brain chemistry of falling in love," explains Kirschner. "Studies show that people who are emotionally aroused by any feeling, including joy or fear, fall in love more easily," she adds.
4. Change up your relationship routine
Routine is comfortable and once comfort has set into a relationship, the excitement has no doubt dimmed. This is why it is so crucial to avoid getting stuck in a rut and to keep trying new things.
"Novelty has been shown to be a key factor in developing personal and relationship satisfaction. It helps to produce dopamine, the neurotransmitter of pleasure," explains Kirschner. "Change things up, like where you eat dinner, where you make out or where you go on vacation. Do something crazy like a cross-country road trip or go camping instead of staying at a hotel," she suggests.
If those suggestions aren't your speed, why not plan something as simple as a dinner date on a weeknight, as opposed to just going home, throwing on some comfy clothes and doing the same old? By changing up your routine, you will keep both yourself and your partner on your toes.
5. Tease your partner in a loving way
Teasing can be fun for both of you -- as long as it doesn't have any malicious intent. "Tease your partner in a validating and loving way," says Kirschner. Whether it's giving him a pet name or nickname that only you call him, sending him risque texts during the day or simply bringing up silly things he's done in the past that made you both laugh, teasing can keep your relationship lighthearted and fun, she explains.
When being playful with your partner, it's important to do what feels natural. If it's unlike you to use nicknames or to go on an adventure, don't do those things. Relationships work best when they are organic and when both people are being authentic to themselves. These suggestions are just stepping stones to help you take the plunge into being more playful in a way that works best for you.
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