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How to Play the Game

I spend time talking with a lot of couples who have "lost the spark" in their marriages. Something between them has dulled over the years. Though they'd like to be deeply connected to the one they love, they instead feel like the humdrum of life has taken over, putting everyone to sleep or worse—worn them ragged.

The cycle between them is usually some form of...

  • Partner A wants to connect.

  • Partner B is tired and annoyed.

  • Partner A tries their form of flirting, which is perceived by Partner B as immature and/or pressure to perform or provide for yet another need.

  • Partner A is disappointed (and sometimes pouts).

  • Partner B is even more turned off (and sometimes gets ugly about it).

  • …and repeat.

The problem is that Partner A's fabulous energy to connect is unsuccessfully landing. The problem is ALSO that Partner B has gotten distracted and therefore failed to prioritize a potentially life-giving connection through play.

Let's learn how to play the game people. Here's the rules.

  1. Play the game the way your partner enjoys playing. I promise you will get some fun too. I promise you'll win. But if you want to win, you have to make sure your partner wins too. Figure out how THEY like to play. What feels like playing TO THEM? Don't know how they like to play? Ask. Read. Investigate.

  2. Share clearly how YOU like to play the game. Be specific. Don't generalize or assume they know what you really want.

  3. Don't give up easy. If your partner doesn't want to play—that's ok! YOU're ok. Take a moment to collect yourself, have fun independently. Pouting will almost certainly prevent the game from happening any time soon. (No need to feel bad here—nobody's timing is perfect and your energy is a gift to you both!)

  4. Spend some time thinking about how to OFFER a round of game playing to your partner, rather than demanding (or even requesting). You're not a child, you're an adult. You don't NEED the game, you just enjoy it.

  5. If you're prone to forgetting about the game, put it on your calendar. You don't have to tell you partner you're doing this (in fact it might be better you don't if your partner likes surprises).

  6. Don't forget to tease (kindly!). The give and take relieves pressure. We are playful, not mean. We don't tease to torment or dominate. We tease to engage IN THE WAY OUR PARTNER FINDS FUN.

Best of luck!

Unsplash: Leonard Reese

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