How Playing Together Can Boost Your Sex Life Why spending time and challenging your spouse to games and activities can lead to better, more energized sex in the bedroom. BY DENISE J. CHARLES
Playing with your spouse offers many benefits both in and out of the bedroom.
“ Playing together enables us to see our partner in a different light. It can provide a context for humor, teasing and lightheartedness, especially during times of stressful transition.”
My husband has been challenging me for the longest time to a game of pool. And anyone who knows me well knows that I am spherically challenged. In other words, I tend not to do well in games that involve balls. But why should I let that stop me? Is it not the spirit of the game that counts and not how well I actually do?
Investigating the role which leisure plays in long-term relationships, Dr. Dennis Orthner, a leading researcher in this field, concludes that in the critical stages of relationship adjustment, shared leisure activities have the power to both stimulate and cement the relationship. According to him, these critical adjustment phases include the relationship’s first four years when it is initially being defined and the second half, when the kids are leaving for college or to set up their own homes.
In the middle years, leisure seemed not to be as significant a predictor of relationship satisfaction. This was attributed to the fact that relationships during this phase often become consumed with child-focused activity and the other rudiments of building a life together. This places play and leisure on the back-burner, consequently rendering it a difficult variable to assess.
When we put all relationship variables aside and study both the psychology and physiology of play, we know that engaging in such activities can have a positive impact on both the mind and the body. Whether it's a simple board game or a more taxing game of tennis, swimming or running together, engaging in activities which bring both pleasure and encourages healthy competitiveness, can add a new dimension to our significant relationships. Playing together enables us to see our spouse in a different light. It can provide a context for humor, teasing and lightheartedness, especially during times of stressful transition. When we feel relaxed, we are in a better mood and that sense of renewal can improve the levels of goodwill and emotional intimacy experienced in our relationships.
Research also confirms that physical activity is positively correlated to a better sex life. Fitness regimens like weight-lifting can, in fact, increase testosterone production making it easier for both men and women to experience sexual desire and arousal. The feel good endorphins produced by a workout at the gym or by an active session on the dance floor mirror those released during orgasm. Physical activity is, therefore, a great way to rev-up our engines for a different type of play in the bedroom. When we feel strong, healthy and fit, we are also likely to have a better self-image and will perhaps seek to celebrate this sense of well-being with our husband or wife.
Creating a space in our relationships for play is, perhaps, critical to preserving and strengthening our sense of relationship satisfaction. While carving out time for recreation may be challenging in the middle years when we are consumed with the raising of children or the grooming of careers, making this a priority can pay huge dividends for both the relationship's present and its future.
The following guidelines provide useful indicators for including play and leisure in our couple-lives:
1. Choose a play-date time that is practical or doable for your lifestyle and make it work for you. This may be several times a week for shared workout times or walking exercise, to once a week or every other week for activities like pool, board games or computer games. The point here is to find a shared activity which interests you both.
2. If you're not a games or exercise buff, finding time to share leisure can be as diverse as you desire. Simple walks on the beach, sharing reading time and the related exchange of ideas or taking a line-dance or ballroom dance class together, can also add some needed dynamism to the relationship.
3. How we compete can say a lot about what we need to work on and improve in terms of our own personal development. For example, the super-competitive individual who proves to be a sore loser, or the boastful winner who fails to be gracious, may need lessons in the art of good sportsmanship. This can only benefit the overall relationship since the objective of play and leisure should be to foster couple-intimacy and not to enforce separateness.
4. When games or leisure activities take place in a group setting, they can provide an excellent context for cheering on and encouraging our partner. Playing games against other couples can also strengthen our couple-resolve and indicate that in addition to encouraging each other as playmates, we’re really on the same team for life.