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Even though most experts would agree it’s more of a mental game than a physical one, it was painfully obvious I was going to need a lot of practice. So, when I casually mentioned to my husband I was going to hit golf balls, I wasn’t expecting his reaction.
He was ecstatic! “Wow, I’ve just never heard you say that…what prompted this?”
“Well, it’s I Do Part Two yeah know,” I laughed in response. This phrase has become our mantra ever since I started trying to figure out why some couples thrive after decades of marriage and why others quietly grow apart.
I always wonder, what happened? Could it happen to us too?
To his credit, my husband, Phil, has asked me countless times to play golf over the last thirty years—yes, 3-0! But, I rarely found the time.
I don’t hate golf, but if a genie granted me four kid-free hours when the kids were little, I would not have chosen to spend them trying to hit a tiny white ball into a little round hole. Regrettably, I never considered playing golf with my husband as an opportunity to simply enjoy time together.
For us, although we haven’t golfed much, but we still enjoy each other’s company. We do projects around the house, we take the kids on fun outings, and we eat dinner as a family almost every night. Plus, Phil’s had carte blanche to play golf with his friends, so why is it so important that we play together?
As we talked about it one evening, my husband, Phil, recalled how before kids we used to ski in the winter almost every weekend, and he loved that I was always up for trying to beat him on the tennis court. “It was one of your most endearing qualities,” he said, before hesitantly adding, “You used to be game for anything.”
When had I stopped being game for anything?
I always assumed it was fairly normal to have completely separate interests until I started reading about the importance of “recreational companionship” in Dr. Willard F. Harley’s book, His Needs Her Needs.
Dr. Harley stresses my assumption is true… but only to a point. He asserts, “Men typically place a surprisingly high importance on recreational companionship, second only to sex for the typical husband.”
The doctor’s words wouldn’t have cut so deep if Phil and I had at least one activity we regularly pursued together; but sadly, we did not.
I’d never even heard the term “recreational companionship,” let alone understood it was important to my husband. How had I missed this?
For years, my husband’s said we need to find activities we enjoy so when the kids move out, we have fun things to do together. I often laughed when he said it, but as our youngest gets closer to leaving for college, his words carry more urgency.
Sure we travel together and enjoy an occasional date night. We even Netflix and chill, but apparently this “isn’t enough to sustain most couples,” according to the book, “especially if either spouse has additional needs that are not being met.”
When we were dating, I jumped at any chance to spend time with him. We’d take road trips, ski and attend all sorts of sporting events at a moments notice. Once we married, I guess I didn’t feel like I needed to as much. Somewhere along the way, our careers, our house and eventually our kids all vied for my attention.
Spoiler Alert: I was shocked to read (and I paraphrase Dr, Harley), that not having activities couples frequently enjoy together is one of the most common reasons for divorce, regardless of how long a couple has been married. (Yikes!) It’s typically one of the root causes that can be traced to other, more obvious issues that have crept into the relationship over the years.
We all know those couples that seem fine and even look happy together, but then all of a sudden they’re getting divorced. What? But you two just posted beautiful, Instagram-worthy pictures together!
Eventually you hear, “they just grew apart” or “they don’t have anything in common anymore.” I’m not immune to realizing if it can happen to them, it can happen to us.
So, now what? I’m taking golf lessons and trying to play golf more often, that’s what!
I can finally play 9-holes of golf without sounding like a little kid in the backseat whining, “Are we there yet?”
We’ve also created a list of activities we’d like to try, and Phil says he’s game for hiking the nature trails I’ve been talking about exploring for years. Who knows, maybe we’ll even try skydiving.
It’s become an adventure just trying to find new things we both enjoy—together. Because at the end of the day, we all know, foreplay is the most important part of the game anyway.
Who is your favorite recreational companion?
Epilogue: I am happy to report that since this article was first published a year ago, we have added a few more fun activities we like to do together and with other couples…we skied Mt. Bachelor in Oregon and Sun Valley, Idaho last winter, started paddle boarding and kayaking this summer, and finally tackled a few hiking trails. Cheers to finding your own fun activities to do together!
If you’re interested in learning more about recreational compatibility, Dr. Harley offers a free Recreational Enjoyment Inventory at www.marriagebuilders.com. It covers hundreds of activities from stamp collecting to skydiving.
*I Do Part Two does not have a direct affiliation with Dr. Willard F. Harley or marriagebuilder.com. For more information, see the Disclaimer statement at www.idoparttwo.com
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Lisa considers herself a “writer-in-progress.” As creator of I Do Part Two, she hopes I Do Part Two will be the conduit through which others feel compelled to share their story. She resides in Oregon, and recently recommitted to her husband and best friend for the 28th year; together they have 3 growing children who still live full or part-time in their nest. Lisa also contributes to Her View From Home. She’s motivated by the quote, “What will the world miss if you don’t tell your story?”-Donald Miller