love and laughter

Love and Laughter: The Brain-Boosting Benefits for Couples


At The Soul Reserve, we often refer to the theory of play when naming activities that are sought for the sole purpose of enjoyment. Play is an essential mechanism for married couples, not only for emotional and physical well-being but also for enhancing their relationship and brain function. Modern brain science supports the significant impact of sharing delightful experiences on neurological health. According to a study by the National Marriage Project, couples who spend quality time together, including fun activities, report higher levels of happiness and relationship satisfaction.

About 83% of couples who actively engage in fun activities together are more likely to describe their marriage as happy compared to 65% of those who do not prioritize such activities.

Five benefits of incorporating play into marriage that can strengthen the marital bond and improve overall well-being:

Strengthening Emotional Bonds

Playful activities help couples reconnect on an emotional level, fostering intimacy and bonding. Engaging in fun and lighthearted activities rekindles feelings of love, affection and enhancing unity. Shared laughter and play increase oxytocin levels, the “love hormone,” promoting deeper emotional connections. From a neurological perspective, laughter and games activate the brain’s reward system, releasing dopamine, which enhances feelings of pleasure and strengthens emotional bonds​. This positive reinforcement encourages couples to seek out and cherish these joyful experiences together.

Enhancing Communication

Play encourages open communication and breaks down barriers. Proverbs 15:13 states, “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” A relaxed environment created by play allows partners to express themselves freely, leading to improved problem-solving and conflict resolution skills. This helps couples follow the biblical instruction in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” 

Neurologically, play stimulates the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for complex cognitive behavior, decision-making, and moderating social behavior​​. Engaging in playful activities together can enhance cognitive flexibility, making it easier for couples to communicate effectively and empathetically.

Reducing Stress

Engaging in recreational pastimes together helps reduce stress and anxiety. When couples participate in fun activities, their bodies release endorphins, which are natural stress relievers. Philippians 4:6-7 encourages us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Shared stress reduction experiences strengthen the relationship as partners support each other.

Brain science shows that play reduces cortisol levels, the hormone associated with stress, leading to a calmer and more relaxed state​. This reduction in stress hormones helps improve overall mental health and well-being, benefiting both individuals and their relationship.

Promoting Relationship Satisfaction

Couples who intentionally have fun together tend to report higher levels of relationship satisfaction. Play serves as a reminder of the joy and pleasure of being together, which is essential for maintaining a positive outlook on the relationship. This satisfaction is crucial for the long-term health of the marriage. 

Neurologically, laughing, relaxing and experiencing joy together increases serotonin levels, which contribute to feelings of happiness and well-being​​. These positive emotions reinforce a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment in the relationship.

Keeping the Relationship Dynamic

Incorporating lighthearted adventures helps keep the relationship dynamic and exciting, preventing it from becoming monotonous. Play adds variety and spontaneity, reigniting passion and enthusiasm.

Brain science indicates that novelty and play stimulate neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections​​. This ability to adapt and change is crucial for keeping the relationship fresh and resilient.

Practical Examples of Play for Couples

Games and Sports

Engage in physical activities like pickleball, tennis, or basketball. Board games like Scrabble or Settlers of Catan, and playful competitions such as mini-golf or bowling can also be great. Physical activities not only boost your health but also foster teamwork and friendly competition, aligning with 1 Corinthians 9:24, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” This encourages a spirit of perseverance and mutual support in your relationship.

Creative Activities

Take up hobbies like painting, dancing, gardening, or cooking together. Join a dance class, start a DIY home project, or create a garden space together. These activities promote creativity and collaboration, allowing you to appreciate each other’s talents and efforts.

Travel and Adventure

Explore new places and try new activities, creating shared memories. Go on weekend getaways, hiking trips, or road trips to new destinations. Try out activities like kayaking, zip-lining, or even visiting a new city or country. These adventures not only create lasting memories but also provide opportunities to discover and learn together, strengthening your bond through shared experiences and new challenges.

Humor and Laughter

Watch comedies, share jokes, or be silly together. Have a movie night with a selection of your favorite comedies, attend a stand-up comedy show, or simply spend time making each other laugh with silly antics and playful teasing. Proverbs 17:22 teaches “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Laughter is a powerful tool for reducing stress and fostering a positive, joyful atmosphere in your marriage.

By prioritizing play, couples can maintain a vibrant, resilient, and deeply connected relationship, honoring God and enhancing both their individual well-being and collective bond while benefiting from improved brain function. How do you and your partner prioritize finding ways to incorporate activities that bring joy and laughter into your relationship?

We value increasing enjoyment in relationships at The Soul Reserve. We have an opportunity for you to take a playful adventure with us by joining our Couples Adventure Retreat at El Regalo in Boca Chica, Panama. If you are hoping for more in your relationship, consider joining us. Read More Details Here.

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