Marital, Family or Individual Therapist serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana

The Couple That Plays Together Stays together
Written By: Mark Smith

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Got your coffee? We are going to discuss a very simple, yet profound topic for your 5-minute therapy session today - sharing hobbies. I am really proud of my wife, Lisa. Yesterday she competed in her first Boston Marathon! She's successfully run 7 marathons, but Boston is the biggie because you have to be pretty fast to qualify for it. She can keep a much faster pace for 26.2 miles than I can keep for a mile and a half. While I just can't seem to fully join her in her running lifestyle (26.2 miles is way too long for the old fat guy) I do try to find ways that I can connect with and support her passionate love of running. With the return of warm weather I will be again be joining her on my bike for some of her training runs. Talking while running and biking together really contributes to a sense of closeness and connection between us.

I have learned, as a husband and as a marriage counselor that one of the most powerful secrets of a healthy marriage is to simply deliberately deciding to share as much quality recreational time together as possible. In his classic book on marriage, "His Needs/Her Needs", which I highly recommend for all married couples, Willard Harley wrote that "Among the 5 basic male needs, spending recreational time with his wife is second only to sex for the typical husband." Now that is a very strong statement!

If your marriage has drifted apart some over the years (and whose marriage hasn't), then the quickest and most entertaining way to add some much needed sizzle is to devote a great deal of time to a hobby that both you and your spouse really enjoy. If hubby goes bowling on Tuesday nights and plays cards with the guys on Friday nights while the Mrs. does yoga on Saturday mornings and scrap-booking on Sunday afternoons then that doesn't leave enough time for them to connect and have fun with each other. Too many couples only have going out to eat and taking in an occasional movie as their shared recreational activities. Sit down together and do some brainstorming - what activities could you experiment with that you both might really enjoy? The list of interesting activities is endless - antique collecting, NASCAR, softball, boating, camping, concerts, bicycling, basketball, dancing, gardening, golf, fishing, hiking, art, motorcycling, shopping, skiing, racquetball, roller-blading, swimming, tennis, volleyball, etc.

Spending quality time together not only will build your marriage, it will also help to keep you or your spouse from straying into an affair. Harley writes that when you share mutually appealing activities with your spouse "you insure the continuation of deposits in your spouse's Love Bank. Some of my best feelings occur when I pursue a favorite recreational goal with my wife, and as my love grows for her our marriage becomes strengthened. If I share these emotions with someone else, I have lost an opportunity to develop love for my spouse and risk developing love for another woman."

Give this a try. Put some time and some energy into it. Make an appointment with your spouse tonight. Let them read this article and then discuss the state of the recreational time that each of you are currently spending. The happiest couples are the ones who just love their share hobby, whether that hobby is country line dancing, skydiving or riding Harleys. I'm thinking of an older couple that I used to work with you had an extremely vibrant relationship that was built around their life style and passion of skydiving. They were a lot of fun! Or the mid-forties couple who built a satisfying relationship around antique collecting. Or the re-united couple who spend their weekends gleefully riding their motorcycles. Get busy planning something fun with your spouse for this week. As you spend that quality time together you will notice an increase in warm, fuzzy, romantic feelings for each other. We are out of time - see you next week.

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This article was authored by Family Tree Counseling Associates, a marriage, individual and family counseling center serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana. If you would like to contact us, please fill out a contact us form or call us at 317-844-2442.
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