Are you single?
Looking for that special someone?
Bored with the same old singles scene? Have internet dating services given your love life nothing but 404 errors?
So what's the secret to finding true love? Co-ed adult kickball!
Meeting people can be hard, but kickball offers an outlet for adults over 21 to rekindle their childhood, make lasting friendships, and, with proven success, find love. For the past eight weeks over 300 registered adults on 17 teams have been lacing up their cleats, putting on their tube socks, and sporting their team jerseys with the aim of reliving their childhood glory days by kicking a red rubber ball with the region’s World Adult Kickball Association (WAKA) franchise.
Much akin to sister sport dodgeball, kickball is just the latest childhood pastime turned competitive adult sport to hit the scene. And like dodgeball, it's gaining in popularity as the game is adapted for competitive adult play, but the overarching goal is to be social and have fun. Yet kickball goes one ‘base’ further, turning scores of friendships into marriages, some even tie the knot with wedding cakes in the shape of that bouncing red ball.
“Our team started off as a bunch of single 20-somethings, and now the majority of the team’s married,” said Kristie Blessinger, who married her kickball hubby last July. “The games, the friends, and the good times have kept us coming back season after season.”
Of course, there is no guarantee that you'll find the love of your life on the kickball diamond, and if the only reason you're out there is to get a date, it's probably not going to work.
But why is kickball leading to so many marriages?
Most people don't associate romance with playground games.
Perhaps that's the problem.
According to Naomi Brower of Utah State University, play is important to developing and maintaining relationships:
Playing together increases bonding, communication, conflict resolution, and relationship satisfaction. Play can also promote spontaneity when life seems routine, serve as a reminder of positive relationship history, and promote intimacy. Having fun together can help couples feel positive emotions, which can increase relationship satisfaction, help couples to unite in order to overcome differences and give hope when working through difficult challenges. Some studies have even found that having fun together is the most important factor in the sense of friendship, commitment, and the greatest influence on overall [relational] satisfaction.Unlike traditional dating, where people tend to make themselves seem better than they are to impress a potential mate, play tends to bring out a person's "true self". Brower continues:
According to Plato, “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation”. While people can sometimes mask their true selves while talking in conversation, play is a form of modeling real life, which brings forth true reactions to different circumstances. For example, how a person reacts to losing a game may be indicative of his or her reaction to losing a job deal. What a person does to overcome a difficult situation during play will likely be the same way he or she overcomes difficult situations in other areas of life. Whether a person takes charge of their team or sits back while playing a sport may show how they work with teams on the job. Play can teach us about ourselves and our partners in casual situations where the consequences are not so long lasting.
But what about us married folks?
Play is important to keep marriages fresh and healthy.
Family Life Educator and CEO of First things First, Julie Baumgardner explains the importance of play to adults.
According to the National Institute, play is the gateway to vitality. By its nature it is uniquely and intrinsically rewarding. It generates optimism, seeks out novelty, makes perseverance fun, leads to mastery, gives the immune system a bounce, fosters empathy and promotes a sense of belonging and community. Each of these play by-products are indices of personal health, and their shortage predicts impending health problems and personal fragility.
Play also enhances relationships. The National Institute for Play cites studies that indicate that play refreshes a long-term adult-adult relationship. Some of the hallmarks of its refreshing, oxygenating action are: humor, the enjoyment of novelty, the capacity to share a lighthearted sense of the world’s ironies, the enjoyment of mutual storytelling, and the capacity to openly divulge imagination and fantasies.
Playful communications and interactions, when nourished, produce a climate for easy connection and deepening, more rewarding relationship - true intimacy. Who wouldn’t want this in a relationship?
Just as children need play to help them de-stress, adults need play to help them be at their best when it comes to career, parenting, and marriage. Instead of looking at play as a waste of precious time, consider it a great investment in your wellbeing.
Schedule Time for Play
With the demands of work, household tasks, children, and all of our other "grown up" tasks, it's easy to forget to play. When our few spare free moments are taken for entertainment or romance or even sex, it's easy for play to fall off the schedule.
What I have learned is that if you really want something to get done, you need to schedule time for it. Last Wednesday, I talked about the importance of scheduling sex. Scheduling play can be just as important.
Block off some time for you to do something FUN together. Then make sure you go do it. Include the kids, they'll make SURE that you do it!
For you NFPers, don't just think of play as simply being a "Phase 2 activity". Play increases intimacy, spontaneity, and relationship satisfaction. Let's just say that can be VERY useful in Phase 3. ;-)
Do you incorporate play into your marriage? What about when you were dating? Any good stories involving playing with your spouse?
Next Week, some tips for developing a sense of play in your relationship.