Aspects of Generative, Healthy Relationships
Life can be hard. For some, life’s not fun. Suffering happens to us, those around us, and throughout the world. And, we have been given the capacity to laugh, have fun, be playful, and silly. To create balance with this, it is important if not necessary to be playful and have some fun. It can also be a source or excitement and passion to support balance in our lives. Playfulness and having fun in a relationship is a necessity for long lasting relationships.
“Seriousness is too boring to the playful human condition. A heart of stone that has a long face can never express love.” ― Michael Bassey Johnson
“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”- Plato
Humans have a wide capacity of ways of being. Everyone walks around in a predominate mood in life ranging from excitable, joyful, fearful, angry, and playful, to sad and numb. Predominate moods are organized by our historical shaping. It’s like all those shaping experiences are bundled together and spits out the background mood that we live in. The good news is that all our shapings were put on us and learned, which means we can work to shift many of the things we don’t like about ourselves, and our predominate mood is one of them.
Unless it was part of our historical shaping, which means it will seem easy or natural, being playful is a developed skill. To be playful, being playful has to be practiced. Working with many people over time, we find it curious how many people have no practice for fun. Frequently it shows up in the, “Well I used to…” have fun conversation, but then life took over, careers happened, and/or families developed. We have seen repeatedly that one of the characteristics of a generative relationship is partners having fun together, being playful together, and kidding around and pulling practical jokes on each other. Why not? Life is short, let’s have fun! And who is the person you spend most of your time with during your life?
And let’s be clear, many people have strong boundaries in place to insure time and energy for the things that they are passionate about. Wavy Gravy, the original Yippie, says’ “If you don’t have a sense of humor, it’s just not funny.” Historical shaping may be at play, being shaped in a way that life seems dangerous, or one receives “you have to work hard” messages, living religious repression, receiving personality inheritance from overly serious parents, growing up in repressive environments; all these things can limit the ability for play and fun.
Playfulness has the possibility to not only be an occasional remark, joke, or activity, it can also be a way of being. Everyone knows someone who seems playful most of the time, sometimes genuine, sometimes as a defense. Some people will have to dig deep to open up to and allow their playful side to be expressed. But consider what would happen in your relationship and in your life if your overall outlook was an approach that always looked for that spark of fun and lightness. This doesn’t mean we ignore seriousness when it is important to be serious, or that we joke about things when inappropriate or hurtful. It means we stay focused more of the time on the lighter side of life, the lighter side of our relationship.
We also believe humans have a responsibility to play and have fun. One view into life is to consider balance. How do we support balance if there is suffering in the world? One could say we are obligated and have a responsibility to practice fun and play in life. “What is satisfaction and fulfillment in life?” Are you satisfied with how much fun you have in life? Relationships are the perfect place to practice fun. Tie a knot in the sleeve of your partner’s sweater when they try to put it on. Do sneaky fun things with each other. Agree to always go to bed with a smile on your face. Hide their cookie and pretend you may have eaten it. Life by itself is not fun or miserable, it is neutral. We make life fun by practicing being playful and having fun. How do you practice fun in relationship? Go dancing, go for a hike, go listen to music, learn a new language together. And make a commitment with your partner for more fun in your life.
Get grounded in how playfulness shows up in your relationship both individually and together. If it is there, great. Have an explicit conversation about how it shows up and if playfulness can be improved. Are you satisfied with how fun and play shows up in your relationship? Is it too much? What new practices could you begin? If it is not there, take a look at what each person may be doing to not be practicing playfulness. Then open a conversation and make agreements about what playfulness could look like and how it will be brought into the relationship.
If you see a recurrent issue that is difficult or seemingly impossible to shift, the practice is revealing a place for your continued self-work.
We love hearing about experiences, questions, and comments!