Is your marriage stuck in a rut? Do you feel bored in your relationship and wonder where all the excitement, butterflies in your stomach and the sheer joy you used to feel at seeing each other has gone? Are you too bored to stay, and yet, not unhappy enough to leave?
Whilst it is common for the intense feelings which characterise the honeymoon phase of being together to fade, in a healthy relationship, the intensity of these early feelings should evolve into a greater sense of trust, security, fulfillment in the relationship, enjoyment and understanding of each other.
It is when you feel that you have lost the sparkle of the first phase, but haven’t reached the contentment of the second that you feel that your marriage has literally become stuck in a rut between the two. Is it possible to get out of the rut? Unless there are other serious underlying problems with the relationship, for example, domestic abuse, addiction, emotional instability or sheer incompatibility in lifestyles and values, then with some focus, most couples should be able to find a way towards the second phase of their marriage.
How Did You Get Bored in the First Place?
One of the first things you need to ask yourself is the important question of “How did I get so bored?” Understanding what might have changed in your life, your perspectives and yourself is the first step towards figuring out how to make a positive change.
Are You Bored with Your Marriage or Are You Bored with Life in General?
This is one big reason why normal marriages slide into boredom. Ask yourself if you are bored with your spouse or if you are bored with life in general? When you lose interest in life, you will also lose interest in the people around you.
It is surprisingly easy to find yourself in a boring life. Perhaps, your job has become repetitious and mundane – there are no new challenges and you are not getting promoted at the rate you think you should be. Over time, your friends have become involved in their own families and you no longer keep in touch, at home, you and your spouse spend every moment with your kids, helping them with their homework, ferrying them to school and classes. On weekends, you make your obligatory trip to your in-laws for a meal that always features the same dishes or is held at the same place. It’s just the same merry-go-round, day in and day out.
If this is the case, then you need to find a way to take the monotony out of your life. Do something new with your spouse each week, consider changing your job or your role in your current work place, make an effort to re-connect with your friends and bring your in-laws out to a new place each time you get together.
Are You Spending too Much Time on Some Other Part of Your Life?
If you spend a lot of time on another part of your life like your career, or your children, you will have less time to spend with your spouse. When this happens, it becomes normal to spend what little time you have together focusing on completing all the duties and responsibilities which you have taken on in your marriage. Spending time together, communicating and finding the energy and motivation to think of new and fun activities takes a backseat in your life. Is it really such a surprise then that your marriage has become boring?
Did You Marry Your Spouse Because You Thought This Would Make Your Life Exciting?
Maybe you thought you had a boring life to begin with and you met someone who was always full of exhilarating ideas and energy. Being together allowed you to ride in the wake of their exciting life, but now that you are married, you have found that Mr or Ms Excitement has stopped coming up with all those great new ideas.
In this situation, you need to take a step back and realise that your spouse must have found you a fun and exciting person too. Attraction is rarely one way, and what you see in your spouse, your spouse often sees in you too. So, take the initiative and start thinking of things that you can do together which both of you might enjoy. Once you start the ball rolling, your spouse will probably reciprocate.
6 Ideas to Help You Break Out of the Marriage Rut
Whilst there are as many ideas as there are types of couples, here are 6 ideas to help you inject some life back into your marriage.
1. Make Time for Each Other
Spending time together allows you to connect with your spouse, understand what they are going through and what interests or excites them at each point in their life. This in turn, means that your conversations together will be more meaningful, salient and interesting. Of course, being together opens the door to giving you time to participate in more activities together, so the more time you invest in your marriage, the greater a chance you have of having a successful marriage.
2. Love Your Children, but Don’t Forget About Your Spouse
This happens very often. When our children are first born, they are so dependent on us that as parents, our lives really do have to revolve around their needs. But this stage rarely lasts beyond the first 6 to 12 months of a child’s life. From then on, they grow into capable and independent individuals with each day that passes. It follows then that you and your spouse should have more time for each other again.
Many couples however, never step away from the pattern set in the first 6 months of their children’s lives. They continue to keep the trajectory of their time, interests and lives in orbit around their children. But as we invest increasingly in our kids, we disinvest in each other, and soon the marriage becomes a partnership formed solely to meet the needs of our children.
3. Take the Monotony Out of Your Life
If you find that you always do the same things every day, make an effort to change how and when you do them. You don’t have to make too big a change to take the monotony out of your life. For example, if both of you enjoy watching movies; maybe you could go the theatre instead? Make it a date night, dress up and have dinner together as well. If you love to read, join a book club, read the same books together but enjoy the added interaction and new ideas that being part of a book club can bring to the experience. Perhaps you love to play tennis, but games seem to have become routine. Get a tennis coach, pick up new skills or brush up on some of your techniques and you might suddenly find this game exciting again!
4. Look Good and Feel Good About Yourself
This is not a shallow thing. When you take the trouble to care for yourself, you are telling yourself and your spouse, that you are happy to see them, that meeting them is important to you, and that you as a person are precious and worthy of care and commitment.
5. Keep the Compliments Coming
Just as your self-esteem receives a boost when you feel you are at your best, then having someone compliment you gives it an even greater boost. Compliment your spouse, celebrate and recognise the efforts they make to keep your marriage alive.
6. Invest in Your Interests
Sometimes, we become boring to people around us because we have stopped doing the things which we love and which make us take an interest in life. Our general malaise is reflected back to us and we feel that the joy and wonder has evaporated from our marriage.
So it’s important to continue to see yourself as an individual with special interests too. Find time to do what you love. You don’t have to do everything together with your spouse. If you love kayaking or needlework but your spouse doesn’t, don’t give up on your hobby just because it’s yours alone. Set aside some time in your life, and you will bring more to your marriage than you think you are taking away from it.
Recognise the source of your boredom.
Prioritise your marriage, make time for it.
Make changes to activities which have become monotonous.
Invest in yourself as a person.