Play Together, Stay Together

gettyWhen kids get bored, they can easily get into trouble. That’s why “go outside and play” is one of the more common phrases parents use. For kids, play is an opportunity to get centered, learn new things, and have fun in a constructive way. But for adults, the word “play” has come to mean something entirely different.

“I don’t play games,” says the woman trying to appear drama-free. 

“I’m not a player,” says the man who wants to earn her trust. 

“Play” for grown-ups sounds like the opposite of fun. But what if I told you that play can actually save your relationship? What if “acting like a child” made your grown-up problems easier to cope with?

Playing together might be the most mature decision you’ve make all day!

Too often, long-term couples smother themselves (and each other) by falling into boring routines. We work, we go home, eat dinner and watch the news, go to sleep, repeat. There’s simply no time for anything else. So we worry we aren’t having sex enough, or talking about our feelings enough. We talk ourselves out of intimacy, and it’s exhausting.


My favorite antidote for worry is play. Once play becomes a priority, sex and conversation might actually come easier. We all want less frustration and more intimacy. We’d all be happier with fewer wasted moments and more time together. You don’t have to wait for vacation. You can play where you are, right now.

Play is easy, it’s quick, and it’s free. There are a million ways to do it.

When you wake up in the morning, take 5 minutes for a cuddle party. Laugh at your puffy faces and messy hair. Race each other to the bathroom, and have a toothbrush karaoke party. Just be ridiculous. You might feel stupid at first, but that’s what play is: being goofy together, on purpose.

A serious relationship doesn’t actually have to be “serious” 24/7. Happiness doesn’t always appear on its own, so we play to manifest joy.

Challenge each other to do celebrity impressions in the shower. Try making something weird for breakfast. Do ten minutes of Kundalini yoga together – if you don’t know what that is, find a video on Youtube. Those breathing exercises can be pretty hilarious.

Embrace your childlike sense of humor. We may all be adults here, but none of us have to be old.

In the evening, make dinner together and pretend you’re on a cooking show. While you’re eating, ask each other to share embarrassing stories. And if you must watch something, make a game of that, too. My husband and I sometimes take turns picking Youtube videos, and it’s actually super fun! Any cool music you’ve heard, lately? How about the latest viral cat videos? Share the things that make you feel young, goofy, and alive together.

A silly game we like to play is something I call Mystery Records. You know those bins of $1 old records in thrift shops? I like to pick a few artists I’ve never heard of (cheesy matching sweaters on the album cover are definitely a plus), and then play them at home. This makes for some really random dance parties in our living room.

Feel free to create your own silly games. Maybe you could try inventing bizarre recipes using only what you have in your kitchen. Or you could assemble some ugly, dorky outfits and recreate some ‘awkward family photos’ in your dining room. Being weird together is infinitely more fun than being bored or stressed together.

Play doesn’t always require energy. Don’t feel pressure to be ‘fun’ all the time. Sometimes, we’re tired – and that’s okay.

At night, try putting your phones down and talk about things that make you happy. If you’re feeling passionate about a new project, say so! If your partner is doing a great job at work, congratulate them. Share the dumbest jokes you’ve heard all week. Talk yourselves to sleep about the things that make you smile.

Today, if you find yourselves talking in circles about whatever’s bothering you, take a pause for play. This doesn’t mean ignoring your problems; it’s just making them easier to approach later. There are a multitude of possibilities for play in the time you spend together. Trying just one of these things can lead you to even more ideas for creating joy.

When kids get bored or frustrated, we tell them to go play. Deep down, you’re just two kids in love, aren’t you? So go outside, get out of your heads, and play.

7 Tips to a Fun and Sexy Valentine’s Adventure Even Without Someone Special

Go do something awesome for yourself. 

Many people, myself included, actually couldn’t care less about Valentine’s Day. However, I wasn’t always so carefree about it. I used to let it consume me. Back in high school I would get really depressed thinking that I’d never have anyone to share special times with. As I got older, I realized that Valentine’s Day, like most holidays, just wasn’t that important to me. So when my partner told me he was going to be out of town on the big day, I thought nothing of it. But then I realized, this day is still really important to some folks. So, I decided to compile a list of things that people can do on Valentine’s Day if they don’t have a partner(s), or won’t be able to spend it with who they want to spend it with.

  • Take yourself out to dinner.

    Maybe there’s a restaurant you’ve always wanted to try. Maybe said restaurant is on your bucket list but no one else you know has ever expressed interest. This is a perfect time to try it out! If you don’t feel like seeing a bunch of couples out on the town, avoid the opportunity for sadness or loneliness to sneak in by making it a lunch date instead. During the day, you’re less likely to feel anything but satisfied and full from a delicious meal.

  • Go for a walk in the park.

    If you have a hiking trail nearby, even better! Spending time alone, surrounded by nothing but nature and your own thoughts can be extremely therapeutic. It beats the heck out of sitting at home and watching the boobtube all day into the night. Plus, you’re burning calories, which means you can feel less guilty about the what’s next on the list..

It’s Not the Climax Date on the Calendar That Matters

This plan couldn’t be beat…until it was.

I’ve never cared much about Christmas, or Thanksgiving. I don’t go “home for the holidays.” I haven’t given Valentine’s Day a second thought since I was a teenager.

Precious Days

I’m not completely devoid of sentiment. I do have a couple of special days a year that I celebrate “religiously.” Halloween and New Year’s Eve have always had great significance to me. Halloween because it’s when everyone acts the way they wish they could the rest of the year, and New Year’s Eve because it’s symbolic of a new beginning, a wiping of the slate, a celebration of accomplishments from the year before and an acknowledgement of goals and dreams about what’s to come. Those are precious days to me and as such, I try to spend them doing special things with people who I find invaluable to my life.

This year, I spent Halloween with a friend rather than my partner, because my partner was out of town for a couple of months. When he’d announced his plans to be gone over my favorite holiday, I was slightly heartbroken, but understood. It was for the trip of a lifetime and I wasn’t going to let a one-day, city-wide costume party get in the way of that for him. It just meant to both of us that New Year’s Eve would be even more special.

Unforgettable Date with Mom

His mom was in town on over the holiday weeks, so on New Year’s Eve Day we went to a small island off the coast of Southern California and did some cave kayaking. It was amazing. I saw wild foxes, seals, dolphins and some whales; truly an unforgettable day. That night, however, was for us and his mom understood that, so she said we should take it for ourselves and do something special.

Epic Climax Date Plans

When he had asked me what I wanted to do, being the overly amorous gal that I am, I told him my only real goal for the night was for us to be climaxing during the countdown, and for a full release at “Happy New Year!” He agreed that would be an epic New Year’s plan. All that was left was location.

We’d originally intended to go camping, somewhere not too far, like Joshua Tree. However, the weather had other plans, deciding that torrential downpours followed by sub-zero temperatures would be a better way to spend New Years. So J Tree was out, however, there were closer places we could go. We explored all of our options, and as wet and cold as it was going to be, it seemed like the best plan would be to just stick to a hike somewhere close. We would get to the top of a mountain, screw each other’s brains out until the countdown was over, and then head home.

Dehydration…a Kicker

This plan couldn’t be beat…until it was. My partner, who avoided drinking water during our all-day kayaking trip because he didn’t want to pee in his wet suit, was extremely dehydrated. We took in a bunch of fluids and made some macaroni and cheese. Did I mention he’s lactose intolerant? Just a little bit, but apparently something like that is greatly exacerbated by a weakened system due to dehydration. Needless to say, he started to not feel very well.

Should I Stay or Should I Go

We took a quick nap before our hike and I woke up ready to go! He woke up…slightly less excited. I couldn’t tell at that point whether he just didn’t feel like going out or he was really ill. So I said I could go on my own. This was in no way meant out of spite or passive aggression, and he knew that. I simply wanted to be outside at midnight and I don’t like dragging people along when they don’t want to be there. He insisted on coming with me. He just kept saying, “I wanna be with you.”

What I should have said was, “okay, let’s stay here then.” But I still didn’t fully realize just how bad it was, until we got to the mountain. We got out of the car with our backpack filled with Trader Joe’s fireworks chocolate, sparkling apple cider, and a blanket. He wasn’t looking great, so I asked him if we should go back. “NO! I want it to be special.” Just minutes into the hike it became apparent to me just how ill he was. We were stopping every few minutes for him to collect himself. This was certainly going to be a special night. But not the type of special either of us had intended.

The Mountain at Midnight

We made it up to the mountain and during the midnight count down he was off in the bushes taking care of some nasty business while I toasted myself for my achievement of keeping cool and not being too grossed out. We headed back down the mountain and I drove us home. By this time more than ever I felt terrible for making him come with me and being so insistent on this being a special night.

Best Laid Plans Became a Care Package

I took care of him the rest of the night and the entire next day. While I nursed him back to health I realized something. I don’t know if it’s because I’m older now and don’t party anymore, or if it’s because I’ve finally found someone who I’m calm and comfortable with, but it didn’t matter to me that it wasn’t ideal. This night was actually the opposite of ideal. It was kind of the worst. I watched disgusting things happen to the person I was supposed to be doing altogether other kinds of disgusting things with. But despite this, I was glad to have spent the night with him. I was happy to have been able to take care of him and I was glad he was around. This leads me to ask the ever important question: what happened to me?!

Another Day for a “Special” Date

We made a deal to do a countdown later on this year, which we’ve set a date for. We’ll recreate New Year’s Eve well past its actual date, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we’ll be together, and that we were together.

So this Valentine’s day, I urge you, dear reader, to treat it like any other day: special. Special not because it’s February 14, but because of the company you’re with and the moments you share. Even if those moments turn out gross.

Marriage 101: Expectations Vs. Reality

 Once upon a time, two newlywed lovers rode off into the sunset.

just marriedIt was a perfect end to a perfect day: The Bride (wearing an off-beat vintage dress that totally said “I’m not like other brides”) took a celebratory swig from a flask in the passenger seat. Her Groom squinted like a sultry James Dean, driving toward the horizon with wind in his hair. The sexy beats of Arctic Monkeys accompanied them as they drove; they thought of the red-hot road trips they took when they had first been dating. This new beginning was just a continuation of a love that was already good.

The couple held hands and agreed: this was perfect, they were perfect, and the future was going to be perfect.

Being married wouldn’t change a thing, they swore. This was the happy ending they’d always wanted. Two lifetimes of buildup and anticipation, all those years of searching…everything led up to this moment.

Soooo…what now? Neither one knew for sure.

The Bride kept drinking her whiskey and the Groom kept playing the same songs on repeat and they tried to do the same things they did before the ceremony, before the proposal, before moving in.

It worked, for a while. But the sunset had to end sometime. What would they do in the morning?

Clouds moved in to cover the stars. The Bride and Groom were now Wife and Husband, and they tried their best not to mess things up.

“What do married people do?” they asked themselves. Both came up with their own answer, based on what they’d seen their parents, friends and TV couples do.

Wife made a nice dinner and set the table for Husband, because she heard she should prioritize quality time. Meanwhile, Husband picked up an extra evening shift at his job, because he heard he should save to buy nice things for Wife.

All it took was a phone call to disappoint them both. Gone were the days of long drives and free flying and throwing bouquets out the window. Now, he was a husband who worked long hours and she was a wife who ate pot roast alone.

“Why does he make me so sad?” She sighed. “This doesn’t seem like us.”

“Why does she make me so angry?” He groaned. “I thought that we would be different.”

She expected a date night; he chose a night with the boys. He expected they’d spend their day off at the beach; she preferred couples’ counseling. On and on and on it went.

One year later, this perfect pairing was dissatisfied in every way. Why?

Things weren’t really that bad, were they? He didn’t cheat, she didn’t lie, and neither one spent all their money. Plus, they were trying so hard! It didn’t make sense that they’d be so unhappy. Was marriage itself to blame?

True story: When my husband and I were married, we were convinced we’d never be like “other” couples. We felt like two single people who just happened to be getting married. “Nothing would change!” we vowed.

In five years, we imagined that of course we’d have romantic evenings of punk records and bourbon on the rocks. And in ten years, naturally we’d have the same careers and wear the same styles of clothing. And in twenty years, obviously we’d be the coolest parents/best friends/partners on Earth. Everyone would envy how non-traditional and happy and open we were. “Traditional” marriage was for the birds, we said!

These weren’t bad intentions at all. But eventually, our unconscious expectations of what should be threatened our conscious dreams of what could be. It took a great deal of listening on both sides to dissect the reasons why we expected the things that we did. And it was hard to admit that people weren’t lying when they warned us that marriage would change things.

Here’s where we went wrong: My expectations and his expectations did not match our collaborative goals. And the higher our expectations, the greater our potential for disappointment.

As much as we denied it, that piece of paper became more than ‘just a piece of paper’ the second we went beyond “I do” and claimed our “supposed tos” and “should.” And it’s okay. I believe that most couples go through this, at some point.

The first few years of committed cohabitation are specifically primed for chaos. The people you both were when you met will have changed by the time you walk down the aisle. And it’s often not until the glow wears off that you notice that anything’s changed. When that happens, it’s not necessarily bad. Just hang on. It takes love, patience and a sense of adventure to navigate what happens next.

I’d thought marriage would be just like dating, just with both of our names on a contract. I imagined we’d be the same people, forever. But that’s like saying “if I win millions in the lottery, I’ll still act like I do making $20,000 a year!” How silly.

When an event or person changes your life, your identity must be affected somehow. If this didn’t happen, no one would grow or evolve. We’d all still be raging toddlers, learning nothing and accomplishing nothing. But while change is a good thing, it’s stressful.

Sometimes opportunity feels like a crisis. Even something as wonderful as finding your soul mate can spark a personal breakdown. But the difference between a breakdown and breakthrough is the way you go about handling it. Change works in your favor, if you let it.

Expansion requires letting go of old limits, and this includes unrealistic expectations. And it’s not as scary as you might think. You can lower your expectations without compromising your standards. 

It’s common for couples to articulate the same vision for their marriage, but display conflicting expectations through their actions down the road.

Nobody’s immune to unrealistic expectations, even the most non-traditional of couples. Overcoming this pattern is a challenge that can only make you better, together.

I’m grateful for all of it, now. Good and bad. We’ve been through a lot, and we’re stronger for it. We’re clear on what our relationship is and have chosen to accept and love it for what it is now, not what it “could” or “should” be down the road. At first, I thought letting go would mean accepting failure. But the results proved me wrong in the best way.

Now that we’ve stopped judging ourselves by old rules that don’t work, we’re free to meet the ideals we’d envisioned at the start! Our worst fears were never realized, once we learned to let go of them.

just marriedLove is not a perpetual ride into the sunset. Sometimes it’s two flat tires in a blizzard. And that’s fine! At least it’s not boring.

When that sunset ride ends and you run out of gas, get out of the car and push. Hold on to each other through the next morning, the next sunset, the next disaster and dream come true. Have faith in your future beginnings, because there will always be more.


P.S…Laugh, if you can. It helps.

How To Cheat Without Cheating


If you have a cheatin’ heart but don’t want to act on it, here’s how to stop an affair before it starts.

Do you fantasize about secret hook-ups and flings? Are you disappointed by the emotional distance between you and your long-term partner? “Boredisappointment” is a word I’ve invented (just now, actually!) to describe those afflictions of relationship boredom — with a garnish of dashed hopes and dreams.

If you find this feeling all-too-familiar, say it with me: “I suffer from boredisappointment.”

Note that we didn’t say, “they gave me boredisappointment.” The key phrase here is “I suffer.” What you don’t want to do here (take it from me) is to blame your partner for all of it. Sure, they may have had the cold first and then passed the germs on to you. Or they’re just so damn noisy that now you’ve got a bad headache. Or maybe your partner was boredisappointed long before the thought entered your mind.

Whatever the reason, these are your feelings and they should be dealt with. Thankfully, and just as with any headache, cold, or food poisoning bout, there are things you can do (yourself) for relief.

The first step to overcoming infidelity is admitting you’re tempted to cheat. After that comes the fun part!

“What?” you ask. “What fun part? I’m about to destroy my ten-year marriage with the pretzel guy from Costco!”

Hold on now, Brenda. Put down the cheese dip and zip up your fly. You can learn how to stop an affair from happening by leaning into the feelings of cheating without actually doing it. Let’s take a look at four options that can do just that.

1. Cheat on your partner… by having a “naughty” sleepover with your platonic best friend.

Throw a “self-care” night with your closest platonic (emphasis on platonic) best friend, and soak up the sinfulness of it all. Junk food, face masks, roses and candles, confessions, whatever — do what you wish someone else would do for you.

Your romantic partner can’t meet every need in your life. This is why friendships exist. It’s unnecessarily painful to depend on one person for every aspect of your emotional well-being — not to mention unrealistic. But there are ways to get your emotional needs met without ruining your partner’s life. Gush over the grocery boy with your bestie and there’s no harm done. Letting the grocery boy gush on you, well… that’s what’s we’d like to avoid.

Pro tip: TELL YOUR FRIEND ABOUT YOUR URGE TO CHEAT. This (1) makes you accountable to someone outside of your partnership, (2) presents a great opportunity for advice from someone you trust, and/or (3) validates and affirms your boredisappointment without getting an STD.

2. Cheat on your spouse… with a project.

Why is it that when people cheat, they can always find time to do so — but when it’s a painting or building a zen garden, there are a million things more important?

In an interview for The Rumpus, Elizabeth Gilbert recommends approaching your creative project like it’s a secret lover. “Go have an affair with your book…just get some sexy lavender underwear from the girl in Coyote Ugly and go have a fling with your book.”

If there’s a story you’ve always wanted to write, paint, crochet, or sculpt, find secret times to do so. And if you’re feeling frisky, you’re in luck: from boudoir photography to romance novels to sexy dance classes and more, there’s a whole world of titillating activities for you.

Pro tip: To satisfy your urge for sensual risk, why not pose nude for an art class — or take an art class and draw somebody else? Often, the rush of seeing and/or being seen is enough to satisfy the urge to cheat — or (even better) get over it completely.

Couple On Kitchen

3. Cheat on your spouse… by pursuing a real adrenaline rush.

Try something dangerous; I dare you. Go skydiving or bungee jumping (with a reputable guide, of course). Go ride a horse and fall off. Do that thing in Vegas where you rent a racecar and pretend to be Ricky Bobby. Experts say that spontaneous excitement boosts your dopamine levels, which can satisfy the pleasurable rush you’ve been craving.

Now I’m not a psychic, but I have a feeling that tropical cliff-diving is a lot more worthwhile than fondling some guy you met at a fundraiser. Unless he’s Tom Hardy, he ain’t that cute.

Pro tip: Take your partner with you! You might be surprised with this one. There’s a certain kind of closeness that comes from defying death with a lover. Please don’t risk your life on my account, but… jump out of a plane. See what happens.

4. Actually cheat on your partner…but do it with your partner.

Maybe both of you are boredisappointed, who knows? Perhaps they’re even more boredisappointed than you are, but haven’t discovered LOVE TV yet.  Lucky for them, they have you. Cha-ching!

Instead of thinking about how to stop an affair, think of how you would start one — and then get your partner involved. Surprise them with a naughty email from a private account, or arrange a ‘secret’ tryst with them. Have them meet you on his or her break at work, or after hours at a surprise location. You can go all ‘role-play’ if you want, but trust me — sometimes, doing something that feels forbidden and secretive is the best way to feel like your true self.

Pro tip: Sexting isn’t just for single Millennials. Worst sext-case scenario, you can just send each other sexy spoofs and laugh about it. At least then you’ll both be smiling.

To have a good relationship, you need to take care of yourself.

You can stop an affair before it begins by acknowledging that your needs for novelty, excitement, play, emotional satisfaction, or pleasure aren’t being met – and then finding alternate ways of providing these needs for yourself. By all means, include your partner in as much or as little of this as you’d like, but this is on you. There are healthy ways to do this without ruining your life.

What are some other ways you can think of to overcome infidelity urges? Share your stories in the comments below! And for more reading on ethical cheating options, check out this perspective on polyamory or this one on nonmonogamy. (Yep, they’re different!)