Relationships with Terah Harrison
When asked about our weekend plans, my husband usually answers, “I’ve got a big day tomorrow." It’s actually a pretty nice little Saturday. We’re going to go to Home Depot, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed Bath & Beyond — I don’t know. I don’t know if we’ll have enough time.” This is a normal Saturday for many of us. It also happens to be a quote from the movie Old School, demonstrating how the main character’s marriage has gone stale. Soccer games, graduations, play dates, grocery shopping and various other family obligations often overtake weekends and time away from work. We can operate like this for months or even years until we slam into the fact that we are missing something essential in our lives that used to be so easy and fun. Sure, we have a good time with our kids and families, and sometimes that big trip to the hardware store can be enjoyable, but what about that adrenaline-pumping, exciting, sky-is-the-limit fun we had as kids and teenagers? It’s out there — and attainable for any couple.
As a therapist specializing in relationships, I often see how the loss of fun and friendship in a couple’s partnership can lead to a struggling relationship. The friendship you have with your mate forms the basis of a healthy relationship. If a friend only wanted to do boring things and talked solely about his or her children, you probably wouldn’t want to hang out with that person very often. When a marriage has no fun in it, you begin to associate your partner with negative feelings and drudgery, and this eventually leads to disconnection and loss of intimacy.
Bringing excitement into your marriage takes a little bit of planning, flexibility and a lot of spontaneity. On the planning end of things, make playtime with your partner a priority in your schedule. Establishing a regular date night or day ensures that both of you know connecting in this way is important. My husband and I have rituals we call “Terahntine’s Day” and “Jeffentine’s Day.” They evolved from creating a male version of Valentine’s Day into each of us having a special date tailored to our individual preferences once a month. This gives us both the opportunity to have a day that is all about us without having to compromise — after all, a man’s ideal date is quite often very different than a woman’s.
To be spontaneous, try to rewind a bit and remember the things you enjoyed as a kid. Water-gun fights, hide-and-seek, playing pranks and just being silly in general aren’t just activities for children — get creative to make them more adult. You can also think back to date activities you enjoyed as a teenager such as bowling, miniature golf, arcades (Dave & Buster’s is a great adult arcade), playing in the park at night (just don’t get caught!) or drive-in movie theaters. Any one of these can bring back that sense of magic and possibility as a couple.
As adults, we often get bogged down in our obligations and everyday toil, but bringing some of that childlike excitement and fun into our lives leads to a balanced and fulfilling existence. Sharing it with our partners will not only enrich their lives but also feed our relationships.
Terah Harrison is a licensed professional counselor and owner of Therapeutically Chosen, LLC, where she specializes in relationship counseling for singles and couples as well as matchmaking.