Over the last few weeks, we’ve walked you through the seven pillars of connection at the heart of every romantic relationship. They’re also at the heart of everything we do here at Core Values Counseling. We hope you’ve learned a lot about and your partner in exploring these different areas.
To recap, every one of us needs to feel connected with our partner in seven distinct areas:
- Emotional Connection
- Relational Connection
- Spiritual Connection
- Physical Connection
- Sexual Connection
- Financial Connection
- Recreational Connection
We’re wrapping up this series today with the seventh and final pillar: Recreational Connection.
This might be the most fun pillar of them all, folks. It’s all about doing things with your partner that infuse your relationship with a spark of something delightful — joy, spontaneity, newness, excitement, playfulness. Recreation can help you connect with your body and your partner in ways that sitting in front of a screen simply can’t.
Looking back on the long, isolating days of the pandemic with so much staying in and sheltering in place, it’s not surprising that a lot of us have forgotten about — or gotten out of the habit of — recreation. It’s so easy now to sit down with our streaming subscriptions and binge-watch hour after hour of our favorite shows.
But we need to remember that having fun — the kind that actively engages our minds and our bodies — is so important, and it’s so different than zoning out in front of a TV or computer screen.
We’re seeing more and more couples who have a desire to actively unplug and get away from tech-centered activities. That alone is a fantastic place to start! Do something totally different. Play board games or go for a bike ride. Visit a botanic garden. Take a class together on something you both enjoy (or want to learn more about).
My husband, Eric, and I love playing Carcassonne and Settlers of Catan (our family, in fact, can get a little cutthroat about both!). And don’t forget good old-fashioned card games like cribbage). We play a game called six-deck mania that we learned with our Polish friends.
We’ve also taken dance lessons, and it’s so much fun now to find places to dance, even if other people aren’t dancing! It’s one small way we can have fun, connect, and cut loose. We celebrated a recent birthday with a nice dinner — complete with a live jazz band! Instinctively, Eric took my hand, we found an open spot in the room, and we danced! It made my heart soar. There’s nothing else like it in the world.
No matter what you like to do in your free time, look for places where you can add laughter to your day and have fun together. Go bowling with another couple or a group of friends. Join a pickleball league. Find a meetup group that does something you’re both interested in.
Planning adventures outside your home can help you be intentional about recreational connection. We’re big advocates of taking trips that expose you to new environments.
One year, some family of ours came to visit from Germany. We rented a motorhome, and we traveled through five western states over the course of five weeks, and we had a blast!! We will remember it for the rest of our lives. (Never mind that we barely knew this little group of relatives; we bonded and got to know one another through our shared adventure!)
When we lived in Europe, we packed up our kids and our van, and we camped all over the continent for seven weeks — and on a shoestring budget at that! (Our initial motivation for the trip was, after all, to save on taxes.) We spent the better part of two months finding things to do for free everywhere we went. Every day, we had make-believe Robin Hood sword fights with our boys. It was a magical trip, and Eric and I will never forget it.
All that to say, take opportunities that arise, and run with them.
Embrace newness and adventure. Try something out of the ordinary. This sort of recreation adds newness and a spark of joy to your relationship. We can’t wait for you to give it a try!