Couples That Play Together Stay Together

Amy Cunningham
It's no secret that you're generally happier in your relationship when you're having fun together, but new research from the University of Denver actually supports this.

"The more you invest in fun and friendship and being there for your partner, the happier the relationship will get over time," says Howard Markman, a psychologist who co-directs the university's Center for Marital and Family Studies.

"The correlation between fun and marital happiness is high, and significant."

While it may seem obvious, this is something that gradually declines over time, slipping away with the increasing responsibilities of life and work. It's especially in couple's where both spouse's work. Add in children and parenting duties and it's even more challenging for couple's to find the "we" time together that they need. Neglecting your "fun time" together can lead to problems down the road, so start scheduling in a little time for yourself.

How Gender Comes Into Play

When it comes fun and bonding in relationships, it's not surprising that men and women see things a little differently. Researchers say that the connection between participating in activities together is even more important with men as they are more likely to call their spouse their best friend.

According to Les Parrott, a psychology professor and author of relationship books, "Intimacy and friendship for a man is built on shared activity, but for women, shared activity is a backdrop for a great conversation. What she wants on date night is a time of intimacy and friendship. He's disappointed because she'll never go to a game or golfing, and it's during shared activities that his spirit is most likely to open up."

It was also discovered in the study by researchers that men and women perceive "dates" differently. When surveying men and women regarding how long it had been since their last date with their spouse, women, on average, said that it had been twice as long since their last date than men did. Their definitions of a "date" are different as well. Women tend to define a date as a "planned-in-advance" outing with their husband putting in the effort. Men, on the other hand, define grabbing a cup of coffee as a date.



It's important to note that not all activities build positive relationships, despite the fact that you may be doing them together.

  • Watching TV
    While you may be cuddling on the couch together, this is more of a solitary activity rather than an engaging activity that encourages you to have fun and focus on your partner.
  • Computer Time
    This is another solitary activity, even if you happen to both be glancing at the screen.
  • Movie Theaters
    While you're technically "out" together, you spend the entire time focused on the big screen rather than each other!


The best fun often comes from new and exciting activities. The idea is to engage each other, try new things, and create great memories!

  • Rock climbing
  • Sailing
  • Attend an art class
  • Bike riding
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Take a cooking class
  • Water-skiing
  • Hot air balloon ride
  • Join a ballroom dance class
  • Go-kart racing
  • Mini Golf
  • Sign up for a karate class

Do's and Don'ts

  • Do something different.
  • Do something exhilarating.
  • Do something that neither of you have done before.
  • Do stretch your boundaries.
  • Do get out of your comfort zone.
  • Do get creative.
  • Do compromise on activity ideas.
  • Don't opt for the standard dinner date.
  • Don't insist that your spouse do something they are uncomfortable doing.
For more creative and adventurous activities, check out our romantic date guide.