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When Your Marriage Is Boring

Hoca

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Many people struggle with boredom in their marriages. Unfortunately, some of these people blame their partner for not being exciting enough without recognizing that they are also contributing to the general malaise. Don’t wait until you get divorced to examine your own contribution to your marital dissatisfaction. Taking a proactive approach to figuring out what is going wrong in your relationship as well as level setting your expectations for marriage can help you feel more positive and fulfilled.



In my podcast episode You Can Co-Create A Happy Marriage, I talk about how couples can intentionally try to make their marriages happier and more fulfilling. Two people who are mindfully and purposely trying to engage with one another in positive and loving ways have a much better chance at fulfillment than people who are assuming that a marriage either works or it doesn’t. During the honeymoon stage, everything feels effortless because you are drunk on new relationship energy. People do not have to work on their relationships at this stage at all, just like you don’t have to work at having lowered inhibitions when you are drunk. However, some people fail to realize that after the 1.5-3 years of honeymoon stage hormones, couples do indeed have to work on maintaining interest, excitement, and connection.

The first step to making your marriage less boring is understanding that this needs to be an intentional exercise, and that nobody’s marriage stays exciting after many years without effort. After the novelty of new love and attraction wears off, people turn to other aspects of their lives that are fulfilling, like work, child raising, physical fitness, and building social and community connections. This is healthy and normal. If people stayed in the honeymoon stage forever, they would not engage in productive ways in other key areas of their lives.

A saying about this is, “The children of lovers are orphans.” Many people in therapy remember their parents acting obsessionally about each other, including fights, reconciliations, jealous accusations, and too much time spent behind closed doors. While hyperfocusing on kids to the exclusion of your partner is not healthy, as I discuss in many places (like here, here, and here), obsessing about your partner to the exclusion of the kids is even worse, as the kids cannot fend for themselves. This is why I always say, “Don’t expect her to pick you over the kids.” Additionally, people who are in a new obsessional love phase tend to let their physical health, work obligations, and friendships slide, which is not healthy or sustainable long term.

If you expect to stay in an obsessive romantic stage for your entire marriage, this is unhealthy and speaks to preoccupied attachment or fearful avoidant attachment; you can learn more about the former here and here, and the latter here. Ironically, preoccupied attachment comes from not getting your parent’s full attention as a child, and fearful avoidant comes from more of the same, but extended into a chaotic and abusive/neglectful upbringing overall. When you don’t get enough stable love and attention growing up, this makes you overly focused on obtaining this from a partner as an adult, which leads to overfocus on your marriage. And this overfocus on your marriage, if it takes energy and attention away from your children, may set your child up to develop similar insecurities in their own adulthood and later intimate relationships.

What is the balance between overfocusing on your marriage and letting it turn into a boring, back-burner aspect of your life? It is often very useful to set concrete time to connect with your partner, where it is just the two of you interacting. I often recommend weekly or every-other-week date nights, using some of my date night questions to avoid the same old boring conversations. Spouses can alternate who plans the date night restaurant or activity, with the understanding that if you are feeling bored, new venues and new activities can ramp up interest and excitement. This can be done intentionally as a way to show your love and commitment to making your marriage exciting.

Having a shared project, hobby, or business is another way for a couple to connect and reach goals together, which can make you feel newly excited about one another as well. I discuss home projects here and working together here. Having a new family or couples hobby, anything from sports to music to playing a new board game, can inject some variety and novelty into the same old routine. Adding the kids into a hobby does not detract from your time spent as a couple, and women especially love to see men engage in positive and thoughtful ways with the kids, especially if they are patiently teaching them something new.

On the other hand, some activities are special because they are only for the couple itself. Working on your sexual connection is a great way for a couple to increase excitement and interest, and the benefit is that this is something that is only reserved for the two of you, so it can be seen as more special than dinner out. I have two bucket lists here and here for couples to look through and discuss. Figuring out your erotic blueprints also gives many couples a new perspective on what to try in bed and why certain things fail to work. Discussing what you like and don’t like is hard for many couples and may feel awkward, but the truth is that many couples fall into a rut of quick and boring sex, and the only way to get out of it is to openly try new things. Often, it is easier to text or email about awkward or sensitive topics like sex. My book 52 Emails To Transform Your Marriage has a section on sex and guides you through how to discuss new things via email.

If you are still struggling with feelings of boredom, disconnection, and ennui in your relationship, couples counseling or coaching can help you understand why. Often, couples feel more connected after a third party helps them to communicate in new ways, as finding out new information about your partner can almost promote a little renaissance or honeymoon stage. If this article spoke to you, think deeply about small ways that you can start adding some newness and adventure to your marriage, even in small ways, and start a conversation with your spouse about having this as a shared goal. And till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says, Variety Is The Spice Of Life!
 
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