Research has found that people are happier when they have more FUN in their lives. Studies have also found that the happiest couples report that they are happy because they have a lot of fun together. How much fun do you have in your life? Do you make it a priority to be playful, positive and have fun?
Research by Dr John Gottman has found that couples are more happy in their relationships if they have the magic ratio of 5:1 Positive to Negative Interactions. For every one disagreement, misunderstanding or hurt feeling, they need five positive, affectionate, caring or fun interactions to counter balance it.
As we all know, conflict is inevitable in long term relationships. We just need to be careful to not allow the conflicts to erode relationship satisfaction.
It is so important that couples prioritize their relationships. We need to know that we are there for each other and we matter. We also need to know that we can still enjoy each other’s company over the years.
In a New York Times article: “Reinventing Date Night for Long-Married Couples” studies found that just spending time together is not enough for relationship satisfaction. Brain and behavior scientists report that ideally couples need to spend time together around novel and different experiences. “New experiences activate the brain’s reward system, flooding it with dopamine and norepinephrine-which are the same brain circuits that are ignited in early romantic love”. In an experiment comparing 1) Couples spending 90 minutes per week doing pleasant and familiar activities 2) Couples spending 90 minutes on “exciting” activities that they did not typically do like plays, concerts, hiking and dancing 3) No particular activity, the findings were interesting. Couples that participated in “exciting” date nights showed a significantly greater increase in marital satisfaction.
In our Marriage Prep 101 Workshops, we emphasize the importance of protecting your fun and romantic times from conflict. If you go on a date with your partner, and one of you brings up an area of conflict, we recommend that you “Protect your fun time from conflict”. Discuss this approach ahead of time. When one of you starts an argument, the other can remind, “Let’s protect our fun time from conflict”. Agree to discuss the issue or problem in the morning over breakfast. Then take advantage of the opportunity to go out and just enjoy each other’s company.
We have known many couples who have ruined Valentine’s Day, Anniversaries and Birthdays because they allowed themselves to indulge in an argument or problem focused conversation. In the beginning of a relationship, you likely had many opportunities to fully enjoy each other’s company. We suggest you recreate those possibilities -No matter how long you have been together.
How important is FUN in your relationships? What do you do for fun together? Please join me in making FUN be a bigger priority in your life.