How to Create a Playful Relationship

Play, I believe, is what can make a difference to the quality of our relationships.


  1. The Intensive Dating Phase
  2. Commit three hours a week for two months (preferably the same period each week) to
    play with each other. This really means only the two of you –no other people or pets! Having made the date toss a coin to see who plans the first date then alternate the planning (this prevents arguing about how goes first). The guidelines are simple. Let’s say the husband wins – he can plan any date except something he knows his wife will hate. And we want it to be interactive and fun, so for this first two months we ban meals and movies, as meals can be serious and sometimes lead to arguments and movies create little or no interaction. Whoever plans the date also plans for the babysitter. To add more fun pretend it is your “first date”. She is to do all she can to enjoy it, including what she would often do on a first date, and pretend to enjoy it even if she isn’t because she wants to be with him and to have a good time. Next week switch roles – she plans the date, anything except something he would hate, and he works at enjoying it.

  3. After Two Months
  4. Now we go from the ideal to the realistic. Set aside three hours each month for a fun, playful date – again this is more likely to happen if it is the same time each month, and if it is an easy to remember time – going for the first whatever day is best. This date is a sacred commitment – just like a first date, and absolutely nothing takes precedence over it! Put it in your calendars in big red letters.

  5. The Rest of Your Life Together

    To keep your relationships growing and healthy you need at least one fun date a month.
    To keep it in tip top shape the ideal is one date a week. To manage once a week one of those dates can be going out for a meal and another to a movie.


The play event can be in the home (children stay at the sitters) or out. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Take a walk together in your neighborhood, along a nature trail, by the river or the ocean.
  • Stay home and play cards, a board game, or have a long playful soak in a hot tub (if you don’t have one rent one).
  • Go and play crazy golf, ten pin bowling, tennis, golf, pool, roller or ice skating, or some other two person fun activity.
  • Go to an art gallery, museum, antique shops, play or concert.
  • Kidnap your partner for a surprise event.
  • Go for a drive up the Gorge, to the mountains or the coast; and if it’s warm go in the convertible and if you don’t have one then rent one.
  • In the winter go to travel agents and get lots of brochures of fun places to visit. Then plan a trip or fantasize together being in one of those places – add some extra fun by pretending you are a famous couple.
  • Go to the mall without checkbook, cards or money, and pretend you are millionaires.

Playing doesn’t have to cost much money, and I recommend keep it free from alcohol and drugs so that you can enjoy each other as you truly are. Maybe this list will stimulate your creative. Play can be: indoors, outdoors, serious, silly, sports, hobbies, intellectual, mildly competitive, romantic, sexual, spiritual, or seasonal. One of the most fun dates Joan and I had was when we took a mystery drive. Get in the car and one of you gives a direction, the other gives the next direction and you continue alternating until you arrive at an unexpected place – have a walk around and then try and find your way back home.


  1. Try to Be Playful Each Day. This is what I call practicing the art of “positive manipulation”. Do something fun, positive, encouraging, supportive for your partner each day and do it first, before your partner does. This creates a warm atmosphere with benefits for both of you.  Share jokes, hugs, friendly teases, fun memories of the past. Be creative.
  2. Take One Weekend Every Year Away From Home – again just the two of you.
  3. Take One Week Every Five Years for a Vacation – yes, just the two of you.
  4. Create a Fun File or Folder in which you each put ideas that you get from …
  5. Sign Up for a Playful Relationships Playday or book me to come and do one in your area.
  6. Buy and read my book “Couples and the Art of Playing."