Groceries in the fridge. Check.

Soccer uniform washed. Check.

Sales presentation printed. Check.

Reservations for dinner … Uh, oh.

Have you ever been so absorbed in your career, raising children and checking off an endless inventory of commitments that nurturing your marriage ends up at the end of the list? An even greater danger lies in putting your relationship on autopilot while you attend to myriad obligations, hoping you can still experience a thriving marriage – complete with a safe landing in the bedroom.

In reality, a marriage that can ascend to the heights of intimacy requires careful navigation and routine maintenance.

Couples that play together, stay together

One of the best ways to ensure your marriage arrives at its desired destination is through playful activity. The enjoyable times we spend together are the lifeblood of a marriage. In fact, while researching their book Fighting for Your Marriage, the authors discovered that “the amount of fun [couples] had together emerged as the strongest factor in producing their overall marital happiness.”

The bottom line: If we never laugh and play with our spouse, emotional connection and intimacy fade. We need to do what King Solomon encouraged: “Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which [God] has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life” (Ecclesiastes 9:9, NASB).

Date Night

Sometimes we forget that we need to pursue and woo our mate, like we did when we first met. Why not act as if you’re trying to get a second date? Dress up a bit. Turn off the mobile phones. Be polite. (Men, open doors for your lady.) Compliment each other. Be affectionate—hold hands, cuddle and steal kisses. And don’t forget to protect your date night from conflict. If an argument erupts, agree to talk about the issue at a later time.

Step 1: Have fun!
Begin by picking one of the following activities you can do together:

  • Play tourist in your own city and visit a fun local attraction. Take pictures along the way!
  • Go dancing (or take a dance lesson).
  • Attend a local high school, college or professional sporting event.
  • Play on the swings and slides at a local park.
  • Study a book or download an app about constellations, and then go stargazing.
  • Find an art studio where you can paint, make pottery or create some other craft together.
  • Go sledding, ice-skating or build a snowman.
  • Play games, bowl, ride go-carts or shoot pool at a local family arcade centre.
  • Visit a diner and share a milkshake, banana split or sundae.
  • Perform a duet on karaoke night.
  • Volunteer at a local non-profit organisation or shelter.
  • Play laser tag or paintball.
  • Walk through some model homes and talk about your dream house.

Step 2: Relax and unwind
After your activity, find a quiet place for dessert and/or coffee to slow down and emotionally connect over good conversation. Ask the following three questions, being sure to keep your responses positive, encouraging and uplifting.

  • What was your favourite part of our time together?
  • What’s one thing you learned about me that you didn’t know before?
  • How can we make sure that laughing and playing together are a regular part of our marriage?

Step 3: Home sweet home
As you drive home, spend time planning your next date. Remember to be intentional about investing in your marriage – there’s no autopilot setting. Once you get home, however, it’s up to you what happens next. Have a great final adventure!

Ideas to add fun and laughter to your marriage

  • Let your spouse see your lighthearted side by acting silly.
  • Play gentle practical jokes on each other.
  • Play card games or board games such as Yahtzee, Scrabble, Monopoly or Jenga.
  • Share a funny joke or an amusing story about your day.
  • Play video games together.
  • Watch a funny TV show or comedy film together.
  • Share pet names or private jokes that only you and your spouse understand.
© 2012 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Published at

Dr Greg Smalley

Dr. Greg Smalley is vice president of Family Ministries at Focus on the Family.

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