Life is short. Enjoy it together! If you are lucky enough to have a loving partner in midlife, remember to share fun on a regular basis. This keeps your relationship strong and your heart merry.
Even if work demands, health concerns, or other life troubles weigh you down, take a break and do something that is pleasurable together. Aside from the obvious choice (making mad, passionate love, of course), simple activities that are fun for both of you are worth planning. Make a special meal together, have a weekend TV marathon to catch up on episodes of a favorite show, give each other back rubs, take a walk and enjoy the sunset, go to the park with a grandchild or your dog (or both!), or take each other out for an ice cream cone. You don't have to spend a lot of money or even a lot of time to make special memories.
Make the ordinary extraordinary. When you sing along to rock ‘n roll on a car trip, or add a fun activity to a mundane task, you build a storehouse of good feelings that can help cushion the inevitable frictions of life together. Just remembering to be pleasant and playful as you go about your regular routines can brighten your partner's day. A love note on the coffee pot or bringing home a little treat makes your sweetheart feel loved and special.
There is nothing wrong with having fun with friends or pursuing a hobby alone, but if a week has gone by and the two of you have not spent "quality time" together, you may want to shift your priorities. Some busy couples designate a "date night" or have a regular time to be together, such as Sunday afternoon. To add a little spice to your time together, you might take turns planning a surprise activity that you are reasonably certain your partner will enjoy. The other person's responsibility is to be a good sport, even if things don't turn out to be as pleasant as planned.
Every couple is different. Some folks like to work on projects together, while others might find that to be sheer torment. It's easier if your tastes are fairly similar, but if not, you will have to work harder to find common ground for enjoyment. It's also kind to occasionally participate in your partner's favorite activities if asked, even if fishing or football or art galleries aren't really your thing. If you will be truly miserable (no horror movies for me!), find something else you can do together and don't begrudge your partner's indulgence in golf or quilting if it is balanced with time spent with you.
Put your plans for fun on the calendar so they don't get shoved to the side. If time is tight, be creative. Take sandwiches to the park for an impromptu supper picnic, or do the crossword puzzle together before bed. If money is tight, be even more creative. Scour the local paper for free or low-cost activities such as college concerts or hometown parades. Borrow a movie DVD from the library. Take a "stay-cation" by finding new things to do in your own area instead of traveling. Look for discounts on attractions through Groupon, Living Social, or similar sites.
Most of all, remember to put the same enthusiasm and attention into your time together as you did when you were dating. Being fully present and considering the other person is the key to a good time. On a really good date, you try to help your partner enjoy the time with you, listen carefully, find common interests, laugh a lot, and focus on making whatever you do special. Doesn't that still sound like a recipe for fun?
Northwest authors Jennifer Y. Levy-Peck, PhD, a psychologist and her husband Charles Peck, enjoy their time together. You can participate in the creation of their book "Magic at Midlife: Your Relationship Roadmap for Romance After 40" (and enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card) by sharing your experiences in a survey: www.surveymonkey.com/s/MidlifeRelationships2.
Previous Magic at Midlife Columns:
Online Dating for the Older Set
Enjoying the Single Life
Sex in Midlife Relationships: Complicated but Wonderful!
Upgrade Your Communication Skills
Tending Your Relationship as You Tend to Aging Parents
Learning from Your Relationship History
When Extrovert Meets Introvert
What Do You Want in the Long Run?
Creating Holidays for Changing Families