By: Jesse Stanley
Wake up. Go to work. Come home. Eat Dinner. Watch T.V. Go to bed. Repeat.
This is the picture of many people’s lives. Each day is a boring repeat of the last as if we were stuck in an unexciting version of Groundhog’s Day. Games, however serve to break of the monotony of the day to day and engage a couple in cooperative and competitive play that brings them closer together. It may sound cliché to say a couple that plays together stays together, but more research is proving this is true.
According to research by psychologist Arthur Aron in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology sharing new and exciting activities is associated with better relationships.
Those new and exciting activities are not watching a new movie or burying your face in your smart phone. They are escaping a Forbidden Island with your treasures or getting the Love Letter to the princess.
Further studies done by Drs. Scott Stanley, Howard Markman and Susan Blumberg, of the University of Denver’s Center for Marital and Family Studies, supports Aron’s research. Markman found the correlation between fun and marital happiness is high and that it was the strongest factor in overall marital happiness.
The stereotype of the boyfriend playing video games all night while the girlfriend becomes a game widow is being shattered and replaced with couples sharing the controller or passing each other the dice. These positive and playful interactions build intimacy and communications skills between couples.
The National Institute for Play says, “Play refreshes a long-term adult-adult relationship; some of the hallmarks of its refreshing, oxygenating action are: humor, the enjoyment of novelty, the capacity to share a lighthearted sense of the world’s ironies, the enjoyment of mutual storytelling , the capacity to openly divulge imagination and fantasies, … These playful communications and interactions, when nourished, produce a climate for easy connection and deepening, more rewarding relationship – true intimacy.”
In short, playful relationships are happier relationships. While “play” can find it’s way into all aspects of a relationship, clearly a lighthearted game can feed those interactions.
They go on to also say that removing play from a relationship is like taking oxygen away from someone. It’s not a luxury it’s a necessity. “The relationship becomes a survival endurance contest. Without play skills, the repertoire to deal with inevitable stresses is narrowed. Even if loyalty, responsibility, duty, and steadfastness remain, without playfulness there will be insufficient vitality left over to keep the relationship buoyant and satisfying.”
Change the picture of your life and build intimacy with those you love. Wake up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, save a princess, escape from a sinking island and go to bed happier and closer than when you woke up this morning.