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On the last track, we discussed preserving and protecting friendship within marriage. We also discussed five roadblocks to friendship in marriage. These five roadblocks are, there’s no time, "we’re not friends, we’re married", "we don’t talk like friends anymore", the ravages of conflict, and reckless words.
On this track, we will discuss three barriers to fun that married couples may experience. These three barriers to fun are being busy, the opinion that play is for kids, and that conflict gets in the way. We will also discuss the "Fun Deck" technique that can be used for helping married couples focus on having fun together.
Brendan and Lindsay began marital counseling after Brendan had a ‘one night stand’ with a coworker. Brendan stated, "what I did really alarmed me. It was a lot of fun, but I started thinking about Lindsay and our six-year old twins Candice and Amy. When I thought about it, I realized that I just wasn’t having fun anymore at home. Everything with Lindsay is work and stress… I want to get what we used to have back! And I don’t want to hurt Lindsay like that again."
Have you treated a client like Brendan whose infidelity is in part related to a desire to reclaim a sense of fun that they feel is missing from their marriage? Would your Brendan benefit from learning new communication strategies regarding overcoming barriers to fun?
Barrier #1: Being Busy
I stated, "gradually, both partners get busy with careers and raising kids, and going out together seems like less of a priority. Between six and twenty years of marriage, couples report going out on dates less than once every two months!" Brendan stated, "That sounds like us. I mean, Candice and Amy are a blast, but raising twins is a lot of work. I don’t remember the last time Lindsay and I went out for dinner and a movie like we used to. Even when the kids are staying with friends, we just use the time to catch up on laundry and bills and all that stuff."
Barrier #2: Play is for Kids
Brendan stated, "I guess that’s true. When we were first dating, Lindsay and I used to go to the beach and make sandcastles, and splash each other in the water. It always made us feel really close. I guess sometimes it’s good to be like a kid." Are you treating a client, like Brendan, who might need to be reminded that play is for adults as well?
Barrier #3: Conflict
Does your Brendan feel that conflict with his or her spouse may erupt at any moment, undermining their ability to relax and have fun? I encouraged Brendan and Lindsay to schedule time each week when they could meet together uninterrupted. I stated, "if you set aside time each week to deal with issues that come up, you may be better able to relax when you go out and have fun."
I explained to Brendan and Lindsay, "the first step in the Fun Deck technique is brainstorming a list of fun things. Be creative! Write down anything you think might be fun, like giving each other massages or going for a walk to count stars. Next, you can write these ideas out on a set of three-by-five index cards to keep in a safe place. That way, you can grab them when you’re ready for some fun. One idea is to set aside a regular time for couples time. Each of you can pick out three things from the deck that you’d like to do during this time, then show each other the cards you have picked out.
The goal is for each partner to take responsibility for making one of their partners three choices happen during the time you have set aside. You could also draw randomly from the deck for a quick fun idea!" Are you treating a couple like Brendan and Lindsay who would benefit from the Fun Deck technique? Would playing this track in your next session be helpful for them?
On this track, we discussed three barriers to fun that married couples may experience. These three barriers to fun are being busy, the opinion that play is for kids, and that conflict gets in the way. We also discussed the Fun Deck technique.
On the next track, we will discuss four topics relevant to helping couples enhance and protect sensuality and sexuality in their relationships. The four topics are, roadblocks to sexuality, lack of interest in sex, communicating desires, and making sensuality a priority.
- Carter, B., MSW, & Peters, J. K. (1996) Love, Honor, and Negotiate: Making Your Marriage Work. New York, NY: Pocket Books.
- Thompson, K. (Apr 2017) Couple Therapy for Depression: The IAPT Service for Couples Working with the Relational Factors in a Diagnosis of Depression. Healthcare Counselling & Psychotherapy Journal, 17(2), 8-13.
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