Ever feel like you and your partner are stuck in an unfun rut of never-ending obligations, petty arguments or simmering tensions? There’s a simple antidote to such strains that can add laughter to your lives every day—and remind you both of how fabulous it feels to be head-over-heels with each other. The secret is to invite the fun back into your relationship. Here’s how…

Believe in the power of fun. There’s truth to the saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”—or “Jill a dull girl.” Boredom can endanger a relationship, leading to emotional withdrawal…increasing partners’ propensity for fantasizing about being with someone else…and even setting the stage for an affair or separation. But by renewing your commitment to sharing fun times, you can fortify your bond. Evidence: Research from the University of Denver Center for Marital and Family Studies shows that fun and marital happiness go together…a study from Stony Brook University confirms that doing new and exciting activities together leads to better relationships.

Clear away stresses that interfere with fun. If both of you are able to turn off your worries as easily as you hit delete on your computer, that’s wonderful. But many people need to resolve whatever is weighing on their minds before they can let the fun energy flow. So try some instant decompression-for-two by doing deep-breathing exercises together. Set aside time to talk out whatever is bothering you. If you owe an apology, offer it without delay, thus clearing the air so you can enjoy each other’s company again.

Sync your schedules. Spontaneous frivolity is super…but when work and/or other commitments jam your agenda, you must work within that framework. Sit down together with your calendars and don’t get up until you have carved out some togetherness time. Start small, for instance, with two hour-long blocks during the week plus a three-hour chunk on the weekend. Then keep those times inviolable—don’t make excuses for letting other responsibilities intrude. Once you see how rewarding this is, you’ll naturally make even more space for fun in your schedules.

Explore new definitions of fun. It’s great if you and your guy or gal already agree that diversion means going to the movies, say, or cycling in the park. But not all couples enjoy the same activities, especially as their interests or physical abilities change over time. So have a frank discussion about what fun means to each of you now. Are the most appealing activities done indoors or outdoors? During the day or at night? As a twosome or in a group? Stay open-minded, and you may discover that the bridge games you used to find boring are just right for your nimble mind and aching knees today. Keep talking until you compose a list of at least three activities that are fun for you both…then add three more ideas each week. Plug those merry pursuits into the time slots you set aside on your calendars. It’s fine to repeat your favorites, as long as those activities remain fun rather than becoming routine.

Recapture your childhood. For additional inspiration, think back to what you enjoyed as youngsters. If your memories are vague, visit a park and watch how kids cavort—tossing balls, soaring skyward on swings, having a pretend tea party or just horsing around. Give yourselves permission to let go of your dignity and inhibitions and act silly. Ideas: Have a pillow fight…build a snowman…buy some board games or puzzles…try bowling or badminton.

Be funny. The word fun is imbedded in the word funny—so get a book of jokes and take turns reading it aloud to each other at breakfast or bedtime. Make a point of noticing whatever made you laugh during your day, then tell your partner so he can share the mirth. Such momentary bursts of fun, repeated often enough throughout each day, can add up to a lifetime of joy together.