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HE’S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: have a little fun

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For the next few weeks we will be reposting from He’s Not Your Prince Charming, reaching way back in the archives to remind and reteach and rethink what we’ve been learning together. I have asked my blog team to help choose their favorites, and I am hoping you will add fresh comments to shed new light on these posts.

In the meantime I will be writing ahead for the new series, studying, reading, thinking, and praying about what to say and how to say it. Any suggestions and thoughts about what you’re wondering about will be most welcome— after all, you are my girls! 

From my heart,

Diane

 repost: 11.2013

So I recommend having fun,

because there is nothing better for people to do in this world

than to eat, drink, and enjoy life.

That way they will experience some happiness

along with all the hard work God gives them.

Ecclesiastes 8:15

Dear girls,

This post really ought to be addressed to me, Dear Diane… because having fun is so foreign to me that every time I read these words from the pen of King Solomon, I have to stop and ponder.

What does he mean?

Hard work, I understand. Schedules and lists and budgets, I can do. I’m all about neat and tidy rules with ought to’s and shouldn’ts.

But fun?

As in play?

As in non-productive, non-achieving, no-point-to-it hours spent accomplishing nothing?

I don’t think so.

Until a couple of years ago Phil and I had all but given up on fun. We’re just so different. And so we stopped having fun together.

And then we hit a crisis. For reasons we could not understand, we were hurting each other’s feelings and rubbing each other wrong and just generally having trouble getting along. Every conversation turned into some sort of conflict.

What was wrong with us?

And I’m sorry if you think pastors and their wives are always nice to each other. That we always practice what we preach. Or that love and passion are enough to overcome anything… because those are the makings of fairy tales, not real life.

At least not my life.

The constant conflict led us to seek help from the wise couple who had mentored us throughout our ministry. Not exactly counseling, but wise counsel. We flew to their home across the country, determined to get to the bottom of what was wrong.

What they said stunned me.

Your husband needs to have fun.

They went on to explain him to me and me to him. Using personality tests and years of Biblical wisdom, they pointed out our differences and made us see those differences as good.

But mostly I learned that Phil needs to have fun. A lot of fun. Frequent fun.

And I don’t. At least not the fun defined by most people.

I mean, who really thinks it’s fun to curl up all day with study books and dream about how to write a book about suffering so that women will understand and be able to teach their children and maybe avoid the pit I fell into when suffering about strangled my faith?

Yeah. Fun.

And so I set about trying to learn how to have fun. Or at least help Phil have fun. It was tough.

I tried to find a book about fun. Fun for Dummies. No luck. And if you’re a writer reading this and you know anything about how to have fun, here’s a definite felt need, at least by me.

I observed fun people. They laugh a lot. Out loud. My laugh is all inward, a snicker at best. When I try to laugh like they do I sound like a seal. People look at me strangely.

And I realized that in all those wonderful family times when we go around the table telling the birthday person, this is what I like about you… no one has ever told me I’m fun. Because I’m not. Ever.

After much studious thought and a week of serious pondering, here I am writing a list.   I’m hoping you girls are going to help me out, because this is one topic I know next to nothing about…

Six Ways To Love Your Husband With Fun:

1.  Recognize a man’s need to have fun.

I know that sounds simplistic, but I’d been married nearly 30 years without really honoring my husband’s need to have fun. My man-boy has an inherent need to play, to hoop and holler and immerse himself in something that doesn’t impact the history of the world.

2.  Give your husband/fiancé/boyfriend permission to have fun. Our world, especially the church world, admires men who achieve. Hard working, smart, disciplined men are admired and promoted. No one ever wrote a biography about a man because he was fun. I think we women need to change that up a bit. To stop shaming him and start affirming the productivity that results from a restful day of fun.

3.  Budget for fun. What if, at Christmas, instead of giving him clothes or books or something he needs, we decided to give him a fun experience? Wouldn’t that say wonders about our recognition that a man is still a boy and needs some hours to play?

4.  Choose to dive into his way of doing fun whether it feels fun to you or not.

This summer Phil and I went to Victoria, B.C. for a romantic week together. He spent most of an afternoon wandering the Butchart Gardens with me, trying to act interested, masking his aversion to yard work. Then we had high tea at the Empress Hotel. Not exactly the stuff he’d spent dreaming of.

On our way into the hotel he spotted a float plane taking a nosedive towards the bay. Landing on the wild waves, I thought for sure that thing would tip over, drowning all it’s risk-taking passengers.

Phil turned to me and said, “Di, let’s do it!”

No way. Not me. Feeling magnanimous, I suggested he sign up and I’d sit and sip tea. In fact, I’d even pay for his ticket out of my small stash of money meant for clothes and all things girlish.

But he wanted me to go with him- to be his friend and partner in adventure. I think I shocked us both when I agreed.

What followed was one of the most thrilling evenings we’d ever spent together. Once I got over my racing nerves, I felt like I was a princess flying over my kingdom. Enthralled with the countryside, the islands, even a small castle surrounded by the sea, I loved it! And most of all, Phil loved that I did something I didn’t want to do in order to be his companion in fun.

5.  Keep trying until you find a way to have fun together. One friend of mine rides bikes with her husband. Another hikes. My grandmother became an avid baseball fan, shouting down the refs when her favorite team stumbled. And she fished- clad in waders up to her chin, she shared my grandfather’s fun on the edges of the Snake River.

6.  Act fun— like you’re having a blast. Tell yourself you’re having fun. Decide to have fun. Free your mind to have fun even if your work isn’t done and the circumstances aren’t just right. I know that sounds insincere, but I firmly believe that we have a great deal of control over what we decide to enjoy. And being a fun woman may just lighten the flavor of your presence for the  man you love.

Now, I told you this is an area of deficiency for me. I need the born-fun women to fill in the blanks for those of us fun-challenged women so that our fun-needing men will have fun with us.

Please, please, please, give us fun ideas…

From my heart,

Diane

 

 

Posted
April 7, 2014
In
Charming, Features
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32 comments... (add a comment)

  1. Cyndi Guidry

    This post is so honest its inspiring, thank you for sharing your heart! I have ideas…I’m sure you know I do! :)

    Outside of fun, what is Phil’s primary love language? The reason I’m asking is because Alex’s is receiving gifts – and THAT, is not mine. So I have to think intentionaly about gifts and how to make receiving them fun! This week, I’m taking a business trip to the Oregon coast and I’m able to take Alex along. :) I wanted to make it fun for him (since I’ll be working) so I have little stocking stuffer type gifts that I’m giving them to him along the way with special scavenger hunt instructions. I hope he finds it fun and likes his little gifts!

    I love fun….and I enjoy sitting on the edge of my seat trying new things! A coffee date or a good walk is long overdue for us friend. I’d love to share stories and help you create new ones!

    Cyndi

    • diane

      Dear Cyndi,
      I had you in mind while I wrote this post! You are the one of those born-fun women. What a great idea to taylor our fun-love by how best our men “speak” love. Thanks, I’ll be ready to scribble down lists when we do coffee.

  2. Lauralee

    Hi Diane!
    I was amused this morning while reading your email. I also find it difficult to have fun sometimes! Especially when I have lots of homework nagging me. But something that my friends and I love to do is go to Ross or Target and pick out a full outfit for each other, the ugliest, craziest clothes we can find! Then we have a fashion show and determine who’s is the worst. It might just be fun for teenagers, but I always have a blast. :)
    Good luck on your conquest for fun!
    -Lauralee

    • diane

      Lauralee,
      Now that does sound fun! Especially if the recipient is bold enough to wear the ugly outfit in public!

  3. Anna

    I love your raw honesty Diane and I am glad I am not the only one who doesn’t laugh out loud! I thought that made me weird. I would say to just find out what their interests are and always take a chance to step out of your comfort zone.

  4. Anne

    I am not a born-fun woman, one of my biggest insecurities is actually that I’m not a fun person. I’ve always been more on the serious side- I relate to people with serious questions, I’m good at going deep, I always try to be intentional, but I struggle with the surface level, just have fun. Then I became a YoungLife leader. If there’s one thing YoungLife does well, it knows how to have fun!! Good, old fashioned, silly, goofy fun. Through that I’ve had to face my fears- not having control and fearing that I won’t be accepted- by exposing my goofy side and letting loose a little so that I could relate to high schoolers who also love to have fun. It has been one of the most challenging experiences of my life, but I’ve never felt so free in the Lord. I think that God delights in us having fun and when I’m having fun, I feel like I’m dancing with God :) . YoungLife isn’t the answer for everyone, but as a naturally non-fun person, I would encourage other serious/intentional souls, to step into something that forces us to have fun, die to ourself and enjoy the freedom of playing with God and friends. It opens up so many doors to relate to people, too, and create a safe space for the serious stuff. So, Diane, thanks for this post, I love it and appreciate the encouragement to continue exploring that fun side of life!

    • diane

      Ann,
      You are so right- YoungLife has caught on to something vital, that with a little loudness and goofiness, even the most reserved of us loosen up and open up. And it is about dying to my own comfort at times too. Good word of wisdom.

    • Julie

      Anne, I enjoyed reading your comment. I am also more serious and love deep intentional conversations. Fun is difficult. I also have been a Young Life leader and it has been so fun getting to be silly and goofy with my high school friends. My high school students always say that they love seeing adults make fools of themselves. I’m taking a break this year and miss it so much!
      Julie

  5. laura

    Cheap seat hockey games, target shooting(he purchased pink ear protection just for me), dancing, big fires in the firepit, board game night, road trips, roller skating, trail runs

    • diane

      Okay Laura, I can tell you’re a genuinely fun woman! And I actually think it’d be fun to go target shooting- A couple of years ago I took a group of women to Haiti and the women there taught me to dance- laughing at my stiff awkwardness. And yes, that was so fun!

  6. ANONYMOUS

    It strikes me that this “having fun when it’s not on your terms” is a form of submission–allowing your man to lead! I’m sure God will reward that even if it doesn’t feel sincere at first. And might it be that often when we are “too busy” and the time “isn’t right we are also too afraid of where our man might lead us? But perfect love casts out fear.

    • diane

      Dear A, Of course you’re right! And isn’t that simply loving our men enough to put their needs and desires ahead of ours? Sort of sounds along the lines of Philippians chapter 2.

  7. Heather

    I’m definitely the kind of woman who craves fun and adventure! So, I almost feel like my husband should read this as a reminder of my need. Haha. He’s a fun guy, but likes to get things done, so when our list is so long, he can tend to forget about all the exciting things out there.
    Our last date was to Sykart, an indoor racing center- so fun! And the one before that was glow in the dark mini golf in downtown Portland (you should try it out). We also go to bball games together, kayaking tours, bowling, the driving range, shooting range, stand up paddleboarding, play board games, Skyhigh. He likes Madden…so I play with him and pretend to get super into it, but don’t tell him I’m just pretending ;)
    When we go to the coast, we fly kites, throw around a football, play at the arcade.

  8. DQ

    My mother’s side of the family had a lot of trauma whilst my father’s side didn’t. Growing up, I used to hate that word “fun”! It meant a lot of long parties, alcohol-fuelled men singing Country and Western songs….!

    But as I reflect back, it seems the fun times were what enabled those people to endure the most difficult circumstances: poverty, adultery, abuse, death.

    I also realise that I need laughter and silliness in life to keep me afloat. We play family games, we laugh a lot, my younger daughter in particular (she’s 5) is the family clown! We dance, we sing and the girls do silly dressups.

    It”s the little things and the attitude to everyday mundane situations that matter, I think. Like pretending we are at a fine dining restaurant at dinner time; or singing at the top of our lungs in the car; or doing my fake British accent while reading the girls a story; or sending each other a funny cartoon; or flirting with each other when we are dressed to go out; or remembering the silly thing that happened at work that day…..! I’m very good at being naturally clumsy, so that last one is pretty easy :) I also think fun experiences are a great way to chill out and relax, which allows you not to take things too seriously. A day out at a theme park, kayaking, picnicking or just hanging out with fun friends puts the smile back on our faces!

    • diane

      DQ, What a vivid picture you paint! I think I was much more fun when I had four children running around me all day long. Doesn’t that make you just wonder if that may be part of what Jesus meant when he said we must all become like these children in order to enter in to the Kingdom of God?

  9. Andrea

    After spending many of my early “adult” years involved in professions that were challenging and very serious, I came to the realization that life is short. It is very short and there is plenty of time for seriousness. As a result of this, I discovered an alter ego inside who desperately wanted to LIVE life in all its boldness, fullness, giftedness, and enthusiasm, before it was over and I realized I’d missed it. As a result, these last several years, I have learned to practice fun, even in the most mundane daily tasks. (Pretending I’m a missionary in the jungle while hiking and singing while I work were two favs!) There are so many things that I don’t want to miss and I want to enjoy them while I still have all my faculties. I have married a man who would probably not describe himself as inherently “fun” but what I love so much about him is that he is willing. He is willing to roam the earth, climb the hills, swim the waters, play in the rain, and take random, spontaneous adventures because he wants to be with me. We recognize the differences in each other and I don’t require him to always be with me because he knows how important fun is to me and he has fun because I’m having fun. I also make it a point to remember that I have a bigger “fun cup” than he does and have been blessed with ways to fill it.I have been blessed with my “adventasista,” a woman who loves Jesus and needs adventure in similar ways. She will climb hills, swim waters, and venture out as well. Indeed, the entire friendship is spent in creation. We call it “Outdoor Therapy” and it keeps me balanced and able to carry on in my daily life as an adult. I think the spot in my heart that changed in all of this was learning to let go of caring what I looked like when I danced, or swam, or climbed. I’m still working on this to be honest. There is so much constraint when I worry about looking like a fool that I’m more worried about that than the experience of doing it. For me, fun started as serious business, balancing out the responsibilities of life and death kind of work. I need it and I think I always will. I will pray for you, that God would inspire you in fun ways, to think outside the box and to live uninhibited in that kind of joy, and that as you do you discover Jesus in the places you go.

    • diane

      Andrea- I love this! Hearing how you have purposed to be fun and do fun things without fear of what other’s might think of you in the process. Inspiring, thank you

  10. Danielle Barton

    Strange… but until I read your post – I didn’t really realize that this is me. And the funny thing is, lately I just feel like nothing really makes me happy. Nothing really makes me super sad either – I just don’t seem to “have fun” like you said.

    I need to be intentional about this. Maybe i”ll head back over here and read more comments as they compile…. looking for some inspiration!

    thanks for your openness!
    Danielle

    • diane

      Danielle,
      I think some of us fail to recognize our own deep seated need for fun. It takes just a few fun loving friends to lighten us up and pull us into the warmth of shared delight. Let’s help each other to dance and smile and embrace the people in our lives.

  11. Rhonda

    I also was very serious and discovered “fun” late in life and now I can’t get enough. Bike riding, trapeze classes, boxing classes, volunteering with house build projects, hiking… anything except skydiving or bungee jumping.

    Because I am single, I’m learning to have fun with my brothers by watching football games and boxing matches with them. Lots of great yelling and screaming.

    • diane

      Jackie,
      Trapeze classes! Wow, you are fun. And I love that you are joining your brothers in male-oriented fun too. Good for you.

  12. Jackie

    One thing that I like to do when trying to find something fun to do is check out what’s going on in Portland or the surrounding areas, especially seasonal activities. For example, this fall, we ended up going to the Sauvie Island corn maze, haunted houses, carving pumpkins, wine harvest festival, and other fall activities. This coming winter, we’re planning on going to the Grotto and the Zoo Lights, there’s also gingerbread house contests, ice skating, throwing Christmas parties (with themes such as a masquerade, or Dr. Seuss like last year), Christmas caroling. Finding seasonal activities to do makes finding fun things to do a little easier and also makes that season more exciting and special!
    Also, prior to dating my boyfriend, I had little interest in board games. But since dating him, I have found that board games can actually be a lot of fun! Some good ones that I have found really enjoyable are Ticket to Ride and Thurn and Taxis. They’re simple, yet still challenging and helps keep a little competition.
    I’ve also found myself being more open to what is “fun” than before. My boyfriend truly enjoys building boats out of milk cartons (and yes, you can float on them!) for a competition and Dr. Who. Before I dated him, I considered those “silly” but now, they’re fun! At first, I only participated because he was into those activities, but now I also enjoy them for myself.

    • diane

      Jackie,
      You are a treasure trove of ideas! We have lived in Portland for 22 years and every year I say I’m going to get us to the Grotto- still haven’t managed it. Thank-you! I’ll follow thru as I’m sure many others will.

  13. Lori

    Diane,
    Thank you for talking about this! For many of us we never really learned to have fun. We don’t understand why grown men bounced a ball out in the street with other men trying to put it in a net, yet that is how they connect. So many marriages fall apart because men need someone they can laugh with. It can be especially hard for young mothers to break away from the daily chores. I would like to encourage some of us older woman to be available to give these moms a break from their children and to go and have fun with their husbands.

    • diane

      Lori,
      YOur insights are wise. And your call to older women to remind the young wives is so needed. Thank you

  14. Em

    Absolutely loved this post, Diane! This is both my husband and me to a tee! WE LOVE FUN. However, what I’m discovering as a newly married is our different idea and pace of fun!

    I had to laugh out load about your plane story, because that is so US! Fun for me is a spontaneous trip to the beach to sit at a coffee shop and play a card game. His would be to fly that plane.

    Something we’ve both learned to have fun with is dancing! We took dance lessons before our wedding and we still love it! I’ve always heard a good marriage can dance well together. Think about it, you have to learn to let him lead, trust him in order to follow, and surrender your control. :)

    Thanks for sharing your heart, Diane! Will continue to agree to their idea of fun! :)

  15. Alicia

    I love your words Diane! Such a great reminder and a daily challenge for our busy lives!

    When I think of fun, my mind paints a picture of giggly children. There is so much we can learn from a child’s silly joys! Playing in leaves, running through sprinklers, tickle fights, tag you’re it, imagination, building forts, bicycle racing, dress up, flour fights in the kitchen, climbing trees, dancing and singing whole heartedly to a favorite song.. Children are quick to smile, free to laugh, and seem to find enthusiastic excitement around every corner! So much to be learned from them!

    In my relationship, our lives are so busy that we try to deliberately set aside time for a chance at spontaneous adventure. Here are some ideas that have been so much fun for us! Camping trips, star gazing, movie nights under a blanket fort, working out together, dress up nights out, cooking inventions, hiking trails, snowmen and snowball ball fights, dance classes… I’m almost embarrassed to admit how much fun it is to read fictional books out loud to each other while using silly voices to imitate the different characters. Or imagine the fun in asking your man to completely set aside a couple days, pack his bags, and take off on a surprise adventure whether to the coast or to the airport somewhere!

    My mom used to always remind me, “Joy is a choice.” Even when his jokes aren’t that funny, his attitude isn’t just right, and we’ve had a long day, it’s a daily challenge to make a conscious effort to smile freely and laugh deeply. Fun people are joyful people :)

  16. Diane,
    When Mark & I were dating “fun” came so easy because whatever he wanted to do, was sun to me. I took up scuba diving, he took up skiing. Every weekend we did something new and exciting. After marriage, “life” and all it’s responsibilities take over. When kids come along, more responsibilities, and “fun” involves a good long nap! :) When the kids got old enough that we could leave them with a sitter for the weekend, my best girlfriend and I started planning what we call “Love Hunts” We watch for something in the state that we think our husbands would really enjoy, i.e., “an Evening with Bill Cosby”, A wine or food event at a beautiful location, a special on the coast or SunRiver, an outdoor concert……When we find what we want to do, we start planning the clues. We girls leave early in the morning, packed for ourselves and our husbands, and drive to the location. We shop and plan, and play! The men wake up to a clue that tells them what they need for that day (fishing pole, heavy coat, clothes for rafting……..) and they end up meeting at the set time for coffee and they begin to follow the clues from location to location. They may end up on a rafting trip, or hiking, or hearing a speaker they enjoy….up until they get to us, and the big surprise. At the end of the event, we slip off, and they are given the last clue, which is usually the hotel room keys. It never fails to be a great time for all!

    • Excuse the typos Diane. Doing this from a cell phone was work! ;)

    • diane

      Laurie, This is fantastic!!! So creative and full of thoughtfulness for who your man is… what memories you both have of fun times. I’m so glad you shared this!

  17. Karren Stuart

    Diane, I just read about the first time Jesus met you where you were and spoke to you. So powerful & moving. I’m still waiting, but I don’t think I have been quiet enough – I know I haven’t. Thank you for your words. I look forward to reading more.

    You likely don’t remember me, but I recently reconnected with Donna Watkins on Facebook and saw your picture.

    I know God directed me to your words – because it was exactly what I needed to hear. Bless you….You and Phil have a beautiful family.

    In Christ, Karren

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