An Enchanting Evening game

The year was 1979, the place Scottsdale, Arizona, and Barbara Jonas was upset because she and her husband, Michael, had a spat shortly before Michael left on a business trip. Feeling lonely, Barbara, then 37, regretted the tiff, and did not want lingering bad feelings to spoil the couple’s reunion. She wanted Michael’s homecoming to celebrate all the playfulness and love in their marriage. But how?

A love letter, Barbara thought, pulling out some paper. But on reflection, she didn’t want to give Michael something to read. She wanted to create something they could do together. Barbara traded her stationery for index cards. She typed up a series of questions and designed a rudimentary game board. The evening of Michael’s return, she tacked a note to their front door, prepared the living room, and held her breath.

A Magical Evening

Suitcase in hand, a road-weary Michael trudged up the walk hoping his homecoming would be happier than his departure. He wanted to tell Barbara how much he loved her, but he’d never been much good at expressing his feelings. Struggling with what to say, he noticed Barbara’s note: “Change into something comfortable, and meet me in the living room.”

Intrigued, Michael did as the note asked, and when he entered the living room, the lights were low, a fire crackled in the fireplace, fresh flowers graced the coffee table, and an alluringly-dressed Barbara handed him a glass of chilled champagne, a plate of hors d’oeuvres—and a stack of index cards. “I was so taken aback,” Michael recalls, “I just played along.” Which was exactly what Barbara had hoped

The Jonases sat down at Barbara’s homemade game board. She handed Michael pencil and paper, and asked him to write a secret wish for later that evening. Barbara also penned a wish, and said, “First one around the game board, wins the wish.”

Then they took turns rolling dice and moving game pieces. After each move, they drew one a card. Some were “talk” cards that asked open-ended questions designed to celebrate their relationship:

  • In what way does your spouse support you
  • Over the years, how has our marriage grown more satisfying?
  • You have lunch with a long-lost friend who asks, “What attracted you to your spouse?” What did?

Others were “touch” cards with playful directions:

  • Gently massage your spouse’s feet.
  • Kiss your spouse where he or she doesn’t expect it.
  • Gently stroke your spouse’s body where it’s round and soft.

The Jonases don’t recall who won that initial game, but they have vivid memories of the evening they first played it. “Barbara’s game was a powerful experience for me,” Michael recalls. “It put me in touch with all the positive aspects of our relationship. It helped me say all the loving things I’d always wanted to say but somehow never could.”

“The game put our disagreement behind us,” Barbara recalls. “We had a wonderful reunion, and felt very close.” The Jonas’ revived intimacy led from Barbara’s creation to another game they liked to play…in the bedroom.

Quitting Their Day Jobs

After that special evening, Barbara put her game away, thinking they might pull it out from time to time like an old photo album. But Michael couldn’t get it out of his mind. He suggested generalizing it—changing “spouse” to “partner” and “marriage” to “relationship”—and sharing it with friends.

“Our friends loved it,” he recalls. They suggested additional refinements, and urged the Jonases to market the game commercially. Three years later, they did, dubbing it “An Enchanting Evening.”

At first, the game business was a sideline to the Jonas’ day jobs—Barbara was a marketing executive, Michael, an attorney. But “An Enchanting Evening” quietly took off at game shops and lingerie boutiques. Eventually, the Jonases quit their jobs, and today, through their company, Time For Two, they have sold hundreds of thousands, making “An Enchanting Evening” one of the nation’s top-selling adult-oriented games. In addition, many hotels include the game as part of romantic weekend get-away packages.

Maintaining the Magic of Falling in Love

“What happens in long-term relationships,” says Los Angeles couples therapist Lewis Richfield, Ph.D., “is that the spouses often lose sight of the things that originally attracted them to each other, both sexually and as companions. As the years pass, the magic evaporates, intimacy becomes distant, sexual frequency declines, and lovemaking gets boring. ‘An Enchanting Evening’ reminds couples why they fell in love in the first place, and helps restore intimacy, sensuality, and good sex.”

“My wife and I have tried several games that claim to build couple intimacy,” says Palo Alto sex therapist Marty Klein, Ph.D. “We’ve always been disappointed. So when I heard about ‘An Enchanting Evening,’ I felt skeptical. But we loved it. It’s elegant in its simplicity. It encourages the kind of supportive communication most couples stop sharing after a while. And it shows a profound understanding of how intimacy and sensuality can combine for great sex.”

Linking Intimacy and Lovemaking

The link between intimacy and sexuality is a problem for many couples. Many men have difficulty discussing their emotions, and believe that sex expresses their love. Meanwhile, many women have difficulty becoming sexually aroused, and feel that loving closeness helps them warm up to sex. “’An Enchanting Evening’ helps men discuss their feelings, which gives women the emotional connection they want,” Klein explains. “And it helps women become sexually aroused, which gives men the responsive lovers they want.”

The Jonases have crafted “An Enchanting Evening” to be bias-free. It can be enjoyed by young and old, gay and straight, and people in any stage of intimacy from initial infatuation to 50th anniversaries. The “talk” cards all explore the loving, supportive side of relationships, and the “touch” cards are deliciously ambiguous. One says “Gently fondle something your partner has two of.” One player might caress a partner’s breasts. Another might massage a partner’s feet. “There’s no pressure,” Richfield explains. “Couples can play at any level of intimacy that feels right for them.”

Intimacy: Nourish to Flourish

Of course, “An Enchanted Evening” doesn’t create intimacy. The game enchances it for people who are interested in erotic closeness. Nor is “An Enchanted Evening” a panacea for couples on their way to divorce.

Thirty years after creating their game, the Jonases still play “An Enchanting Evening” themselves. “If we’ve learned anything from our more than three decades together,” Barbara says, “it’s that love and intimacy must be nurtured to flourish.”

To purchase “An Enchanting Evening,” visit TimeForTwo.

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