Enjoying life and laughing together again as a couple is important after experiencing a hard season together. Here’s how to have fun again.
We had the conversation on a Thursday afternoon while driving home from our marriage counseling appointment. My husband, Mark, and I were just four months into our year-and-a-half marriage restoration journey after his infidelity. Counseling appointments, apologies, forgiveness, and an attempt to figure out the underlying dysfunction in our relationship were consuming most of our time and energy.
As we made the hour-long drive home, Mark broke the silence. “So when do we get to start having fun together again?”
It was a question I’d also been feeling but hadn’t been able to put into words. I was grateful he’d verbalized my thoughts. Yes, it was time for us to put some fun back into our relationship.
Enjoying life and laughing together again as a couple is important after experiencing a marriage crisis or a hard season together. Yet as Mark and I discovered, this doesn’t just happen. We had to intentionally put the fun back into our relationship.
Whether you and your spouse have been through a crisis or just need fresh ideas to enjoy each other, here are some strategies that can increase the fun factor in your marriage.
As Mark and I recognized the need for fun in our relationship, we intentionally began to look for the funny side of life again. We shared lighthearted memes with each other and watched Christian comedians on YouTube. We talked about funny things we heard or experienced throughout the day. As we found ourselves laughing together, we felt that easy bond we’d had with each other return.
When we go through a difficult season in our marriages, everything becomes serious. We focus so intently on the hurt that we often miss the humor in everyday life. But we can choose to think about the things that once made us laugh together as a couple and pursue them again.
Create a list of things you enjoy doing together
Sometimes we just need to get back to the simple things we’ve always enjoyed doing as a couple. These may include activities at home, such as playing cards or board games, sitting on the porch together or reading, cooking or stargazing. Or your activities might take you on an adventure away from home, such as going out to dinner, antiquing, hiking, traveling or playing golf together.
Mark and I left those fun things behind during our marriage crisis, so we made a point of reintegrating them into our lives. We even scheduled one fun activity at least every other week. We enjoyed each activity and now look forward to those times together. Scheduling some fun ahead of time and putting it on the calendar helps us prioritize time to do the things we enjoy as a couple.
Reserve hard conversations for the counselor’s office
One of the best things Mark and I did was resist tackling hard conversations on our own. We knew we could easily slide into confrontation, especially while we were enjoying an activity together.
Since we didn’t want to ruin the lighthearted tone and fun atmosphere, we decided to keep a list of issues we needed to talk about at our weekly counseling appointments. That was the safest place to bring up conflicts. Reserving touchy topics for counseling kept them from putting a damper on our fun. Since we knew the issues would get addressed, we didn’t feel the need to let them leak into our conversations. This protected our fun and gave us the freedom to enjoy time together.
When our marriages are in crisis, we tend to focus on the here and now. It’s hard to think about the future when we’re hurting. But as the wounds begin to heal, looking forward as a couple is an important way to restore joy in our relationships. Mark and I bonded as we began to share our hopes and dreams again. We started asking each other questions like:
- What’s one thing on your bucket list?
- Where would you love to go on vacation sometime?
- What do you think God’s vision is for us as a couple?
- What’s one thing you’re looking forward to over the next year?
- We went on a day-trip, where would we go and what would we do?
- What dream do we need to pursue again that we gave up perhaps prematurely?
Questions like these gave us a vision for the future and helped us tune in to each other’s desires.
If you and your spouse have trouble finding common ground in your pursuit of fun, you’re not alone. This often happens with couples whose lives and interests have changed over the years. But don’t believe for one minute that this makes you incompatible. (After all, every married couple is wonderfully incompatible!) Instead, see those differences as permission to explore new activities together. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Mark and I had to resist clinging to our likes and dislikes and instead be willing to give new things a try. When I suggested taking dance lessons, my husband balked at first, but he found that he actually enjoyed learning how to swing dance. Initially I didn’t like the idea of riding with him on his motorcycle, but after I got past my fear, I grew to love those times together. Sure, we tried some activities that one or both of us didn’t enjoy, but we just crossed them off our list. More often than not, we were surprised that we actually enjoyed more activities than we thought we would.
Ultimately, it’s all about attitude. When it comes to having fun together, an “I’m willing to give it a try” mentality goes a long way!
© 2022 Jill Savage. Used by permission. All rights reserved. This article first appeared in the October/November 2022 issue of Focus on the Family magazine as “Our Journey Toward Healing.”