When your dreams, fears, emotions, and desires are shared with your spouse you create emotional intimacy. If this were made of Play-Doh, how would it be described? Lately, you have to bang me on the table a couple of times to get me out of my tub, and my Play-Doh is no longer a primary colour. My husband and I have been married for 7 years. In those years, we have both been guilty of leaving each other’s emotional Play-Doh lids off at times. We are a bit hardened- pulled too tight and stretched too thin in places.
Play-doh evolves constantly. You have to be present with your partner to see how it is transforming, and how one thing leads to the next. Play-Doh isn’t like clay; there isn’t a finished product. It’s all about the process: the journey, not the destination.
Quality and Quantity time are essential for emotional intimacy. If enough time elapses in-between the meaningful intimate conversations, your spouse will be in a space completely foreign to you. You might recognise that the person you married changed, but you won’t understand why or how. I want a marriage where my Play-Doh is mixed with my husband constantly, because every mom knows, once Play-Doh colours are mixed, they are mixed for good. I want shared dreams, visions, and goals.
In our marriages, getting out our Play-Doh takes effort, it can often bring out dysfunction, criticism, or conflict. It often feels ‘safer’ in marriage to be a sealed up tub of Play-Doh. Hurt before, you keep the deepest parts of you bottled up. You aren’t willing to get crusted and mixed with pieces of hair or sandwich crumbs. Other partners might dump their Play-Doh out day after day, hoping their spouse will “play” but instead become more and more dried out. When our emotional Play-Doh is ignored for a long period of time, affairs happen, insecurities deepen, loneliness builds, resentment mounts, or tempers flair, or you just get out of practice. Our Play-Doh souls are designed to be mixed, moulded, and shaped together in a safe, loving context. If your spouse is irresponsible with your Play-Doh, don’t dump it all out at once. Give him or her pieces and build trust slowly again.
Have your kids ever asked you to play Play-Doh when you just cleaned the kitchen? Opening yourself up is hard work. The timing could always be better. It is vulnerable. You might end up on the bottom of someone’s sock. But if you are sealed up, you won’t ever build anything beautiful with those Play-Doh dreams of yours. It seemed easier in the beginning with your spouse when the Play-Doh was new and fresh, didn’t it? If it’s been a while since you have had emotional intimacy with your spouse, it can seem like you are playing with dried out Play-Doh. It will take some work to soften and become pliable.
Are important dreams unspoken in your marriage? Sealed up Play-Doh never built anything. Even if the end-result isn’t exactly what you imagined, put it out there.
When my Play-Doh is being molded and shaped in my marriage, my kids benefit. I’m more laid-back, have a sense of humour about their mischievous ways, and more in-tune with helping them identify their own dreams and desires.
My husband and I recently escaped the chaos of work, family, and routine to play in London for the day. We emptied our emotional Play-Doh pots, so to speak. I remembered how hysterical he is; we talked about our passions; we shared our fears. We laughed about how differently our lives turned out than we had imagined. We envisioned soft, unblemished Play-Doh, not the lumpy texture that we have. But hey, this Play-Doh has a story to tell- one that tells what the Happily Ever After looks like to us. It is far from perfect, but accepting, forgiving, open, and fun. Isn’t that what Play-Doh is about? Squishing out mistakes, always open to change, and having fun?
And finally, this advert for Las Vegas tickles me: Visit a place where your accent is an aphrodisiac. When I met my husband, I remember telling him, “I have no idea what you just said, but I like the way you said it.” Now that I know what he is saying . . . I love him.