In the midst of levity and release, play reinforces teamwork.

It’s a typical, low-key Sunday. I’m reading GMP, checking out the articles, ingesting the various contents and my coffee. Two great components to a weekend day.

Then I read one word, which strikes me in the head like an anvil in a cartoon. Play.

I picked it up in Sex and Affection When Your Wife Has Cancer. Play and cancer sharing the same sentence. The juxtaposition sent my mind reeling. Can the two coexist? If play can live and breathe in a relationship where cancer is present, why the hell can‘t play exist in our most loving and romantic relationships every day?

The simple answer: it can.

The complex answer: it should.

The enigma answer: entwine it throughout your relationship with your SO no matter your circumstance, or mood. Envision the meme of the old man and woman scowling in the rain. He holds the umbrella over her head as smoke curls in ringlets from the top of his. The caption reads something like, “Love doesn’t stop when you’re angry.” So you continue to take the actions that make more of the glue, which holds you together. You can’t stop doing this. You can’t stop playing. Ever.

Example: I had a visit from a good friend yesterday. My Otter, my other, arrived home after work, and asked me how the day went. I raved all over the place. It filled my soul, the connection was on a plane we don’t often feel, I said. When I’d finished talking about my friend, the Otter asked if I still loved him more than anyone else in the world. Of course I did, I replied wryly. He then rewarded my right answer by pulling dark chocolate-covered blueberries out of his pocket.

We play when we run errands, teasing each other about bugaboos of which only we are aware. We rib about our OCD needs, Type-A organizational freak outs, the fact we love office supplies and the clean scent of a newly-opened pack of folders. Our dream gift is a new vacuum. We play through his putting the dish soap under the sink and me replacing it on the counter. It makes us crazy. We can’t agree about the placement and roll our eyes at each other while smirking. We use it to remind each other of US. We squeeze each other’s butts when we walk by, when we put groceries away. I pants him in the kitchen if he is daring enough to wear sweats. We make a race to suck the cherries out of our milkshakes. We play when we disagree, when I state what I dream of in my whole entire life…him not letting the dog on the new couch so I can enjoy it a little longer before we hand it over to our Buddy as his bed. We play when we get up in the morning and until we go to bed at night.

Play is a way of giving minor issues the back seat and singing in concert. We know these tiny idiosyncrasies if left unchecked can worm into the best foundation. We make time to play, whether it’s driving to get the dog a new toy and cheering as our Bud rips his giant 4-foot caterpillar into soggy chunks, leaving cloud-fluff cotton in his wake. When we play and flirt, we let each other know you are on my mind. It stays with you, this knowledge; sustains situations when we have to be apart, when we don’t see eye-to-eye. Play smooths ripples. We remember memories of play and it make us gentler in those moments calling for it. Play makes us more honest with each other, it makes us care more.

Play does so much more than construct a world of levity and release. Play’s rewards are a deeper level of understanding and the reinforced value of our teamwork. Oh, and big-ass smiles lasting the majority of the day.

Original article appeared at The Good Men ProjectReprinted with permission.

Photo courtesy of Hilary Lauren

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