Today’s post is a follow-up to a post from a few weeks ago asking where does marriage fit into your life?. I had some lovely messages and conversations in response to that post so I thought I would expand on the topic a bit and share a fun way we keep our marriage strong.
A Fun Way We Keep Our Marriage Strong
The answer is games. Edwin and I both grew up in families that played games. As we left childhood, the games moved away from boardgames and onto card games and dice games. Games are a slice of both of our family’s identities. Similarly to the way we gather around food, we gather around games. Games are also played at such a brilliant time of the day – if we are away from our kids or if we are on a vacation/it’s a holiday with lots of hands around, then games start in the evenings before dinner.
As an adult, there are few things more enjoyable than having one hand full of a hand of cards and the other hand full of a margarita. When we’re living our day-to-day lives, games come after bedtime when our boys are down for the night. We sometimes prep dinner and then let whatever we’re coking do its thing in the oven or on the stove while we play a hand of cards or we enjoy dinner and then settle in at our game table afterwards.
Recently, Edwin taught me dominoes so we’ve been loving that game together too. Traditionally, we are both big gin rummy players so gin always holds top billing in our house. Between gin, dominoes, and backgammon, there is always a game to be enjoyed.
What shocks me the most is how challenging it can be to sit down to play a hand of gin rummy.
We have to make a concerted effort to make it happen. There is always work to return to, emails to respond to, laundry to fold, dishes to do, toys to put away, a show to watch, the list goes on. I am happier though when I go to bed after having played games with Edwin (even if it is just one hand of gin) than I am if I fold the laundry, fill out the forms, respond to the emails, and feel on top of it or prepped for the next day.
The reality is that I won’t remember doing those things in 5, 10, 20 years. But, I will remember the time spent with my husband not on our phones, playing games, chatting, laughing, connecting, and having fun. The games and time together are what nurture our marriage and make for a happy life. Being “on top of it” is fulfilling for the (very!) short term but games with Edwin is fulfilling for the long term.
Playing a hand of gin rummy can take as little as 10 minutes so why do we live in a time and culture where that is hard to do?
Our grandparents certainly wouldn’t have had that perspective so I don’t want to either. When we get into a flow of playing games, it doesn’t become as difficult to carve out the time to sit down and play. In December of last year, we went into the month after finishing up a very busy and challenging fall season. So, we said we would sit down every night in the month of December at our game table, near our Christmas tree, and play at least one hand or one round of something. It was so much fun and so grounding during such a busy hustle bustle time. The first few nights, it took effort to make it happen but, from there, it just flowed and became a natural activity we did.
Our game table:
A hand-me-down from my maternal grandparents, is well-loved and the home of so many stories, memories, and hours spent gathering around with loved ones. The table was an anchor in my grandparents’ home that saw people come and go, saw money change hands, saw smiles and memories made. I feel like the lucky one in my family to have it now find a new home in our house. The game table is an anchor within our home – a place of gathering, a place of marriage strengthening, a place of memories made, a place I go to remember my past (my grandparents and Jackson Hole) while looking toward my future (I can’t wait to teach my children the joys of game playing).
When Edwin and I are having a great day or great week, playing games makes us happier and gives us an excuse to spend undivided time together and to nurture our marriage. When Edwin and/or I are in a funk, are exhausted, or are overworked, playing games brings us back to the basics of what makes for a happy marriage and life together. Games reminds us to slow down, appreciate each other, and put our marriage first.
What do you do to strengthen your marriage?
Are there any little things you do that breathe life into your relationship or bring you back to the basics of living and loving life together? Cooking together has a similar effect. I imagine gardening would too. I think exercising and playing sports together is wonderful but, for us, it is different because neither activity allows for the ability to stop and talk and connect in the same way as with playing games. I’m so interested in fun ways people keep their marriage strong.