When you and your significant other are together do you always act like mature adults? Do most conversations center primarily on your finances, your jobs, your health, your house or apartment, your parents, or your children?
Does your sex life center on trying to quickly satisfy one another with very little foreplay, cuddling, and pillow talk?
Then I would ascertain your relationship may be in trouble.
Let me pose another question that is the real litmus test of your relationship’s strength. When was your last tickle fight? If you can’t remember, then your relationship IS in serious trouble.
When couples first meet and hit it off, their relationship usually is sprinkled with loads of laughter and just plain silliness. Ask any woman for positive feedback following a first date, and if she thought it went well, she will emphasize how much she laughed and how much fun he was.
Most negative feedback will not focus on his appearance (unless he looks sloppy and unkempt), but rather on his personality being far too intense and serious. A common first date complaint from both men and women is that the encounter felt like a job interview.
But first dates that evolve into long term relationships usually include an anecdote like “he made me laugh so hard I ___” (fill in the blank yourself, thinking back to a great first date you once had). Such first dates inevitably lead to second and third dates, and in most cases the infatuation stage of a relationship usually ensues.
That means lots of flowers, exchanges of cute and meaningful presents, and late night romps in the sack in which the sex is peppered with smiles, tickling, and lots and lots of snuggling.
Unfortunately, when that infatuation stage ended or ebbed in your relationship (as it does to some extent for almost all couples), did the laughter and silliness also end?
Did you used to act like dorky teenagers together until you had children of your own, and then consciously (or subconsciously) decided it was time to “grow up” and reserve any silliness for play time with your kids? And when they grew into teenagers themselves did any attempt at silliness evaporate the first time they rolled their eyes and said “Mom and Dad, you’re embarrassing me?”
My advice is that it’s time to do everything possible to “bring silly back.” (With apologies to Justin Timberlake.)
I totally agree with a quote by a Los Angeles-based clinical psychologist, Catherine Selden that I stumbled upon while surfing the Net. She said “When a couple (is) silly together, it shows that they aren’t afraid to let their guards down and expose their childlike, guileless sides. Also, humor is how we cope with the pressures of day-to-day life. If you’re in tune with each other’s fun side, you’re better able to dodge relationship-sabotaging stress.”
Unfortunately too many couples let those day-to-day pressures sap any fun out of their relationship. This is especially true as the current economic downturn continues and many couples find themselves either out of a job or having to severely cut back their spending.
Ironically, when they were younger, many of these same couples had no problem acting playfully silly when they had little money in the bank and vacations were confined to picnics at a local state park or overnights at the nearest Holiday Inn.
But now a few years or decades later, those same couples might think it tragically earth-shattering and depressing if they have to skip their annual cruise to the Greek Isles or a week-long visit to their favorite luxury hotel in Paris or Rome.
Overall, I assert that it’s time to channel your dorky teen persona and see if your partner can do the same. It will do wonders for your relationship.
Were there pet nicknames (remember Seinfeld’s use of “schmoopy?”) you used to call one another in the initial stages of your relationship that you haven’t used in years? Try and remember and surprise your partner tonight by calling him or her that special name from your past.
Is there a funny T-shirt or sweat shirt stuffed in the back of your closet that you haven’t worn in decades that your partner used to laugh at whenever you put it on? If it still fits (or even if it doesn’t), dig it out and squeeze into it this evening.
When you went on a long car ride did you serenade one another singing along to the Golden Oldies station, but now you just sit in silence watching the scenery go by and counting the minutes until you arrive at your destination? The next time you go for a drive pop “Sergeant Pepper” into your CD player and sing away.
And if your relationship has flattened out and most of your conversations with your partner are confined to discussions of the health of your IRA or your child’s chances of getting into a prestigious college, maybe it’s time to have the type of fun date you enjoyed many years ago.
You know, dinner at the local McDonald’s, a round of miniature golf, and then a trip to the video store to rent a Three Stooges DVD.
Followed by a tickle fight of course.