Getting Unstuck from a Relationship Rut
I love my husband so much; we have been together for a long time, but I feel like we are in a rut where we are just going through the motions. We do all the things that we have to do to keep our lives going, but it is starting to feel like partnership, not a romantic connection. We have a strong foundation, and a deep respect, but honestly, I think we have both gotten a little boring. Do you have any suggestions for what I can do to revitalize our marriage and romance?
I think you share a dynamic that is extremely common to couples to have been together a long time. In my experience, relationships can have a cyclical nature…alternating between being really close and connected and then not so much so…and then, hopefully back again. Rather than giving up in the lulls or resigning to them, there are definitely things that we can do to turn the cycle toward closeness. I have found that usually more talking, more touching, playing more and/or introducing a creative project can make a huge difference.
When I say “talking” I don’t mean talking at, I mean talking with—which means asking questions, sharing thoughts, ideas, goals, visions, dreams, values, and listening without judgment to the other person. It is enticing to have someone want to know more about you and share deep conversations, but when we have been with someone who already knows us so well, and us them, the curiosity and conversation may be jeopardized. Often in a daily relationship our conversations drastically reduce to “did you take the trash out?” and “what’s for dinner?” But when we first meet, the conversations are full of curiosity and interest in each other.
There was actually a study done on how much time families spend in dialogue. They found that parents only spent between eight and twelve minutes a day talking with their kids and out of that eight to ten minutes are spent directing tasks. That only leaves between two and four minutes a day for talking about what really matters, what you love, spirituality, creativity and fun. I suspect many spouses talk even less than that and those that talk more are also talking about what needs to be done. Bringing a higher level of conversation into the house can help. Also, the more you keep learning and growing the more new there is to discuss, so reading books, taking classes, trying new things can add to the intrigue of a long time relationship.
Touching is also critical to an adult romantic relationship and ultimately is the element that separates a romantic relationship from every other kind. Without intimate touch, your relationship can transition quickly into a business relationship or more like siblings or friends. While these are still worthy relationships, they are not usually what most of us signed up for when we got married or involved in a romantic relationship. Consequently, a little more (or a lot more) attention to physically expressing your appreciation of each other can go along way in rekindling the connection.
Creativity is also a very stimulating process and co-creating something of beauty or functionality or service can be a very bonding experience. This is true not only of spouses or sweethearts, but also with your children or other family members.
Recreation, re-creation, is something we are usually much better at in the beginning of a relationship than after years and years. See if you and your husband can reintroduce fun and activity into your lives as a means of re-creating your relationship (and not being quite so boring). Go for hikes, go snorkeling or diving, try the ziplines (they are a BLAST). Do what the tourists do.
What is most important is that you recognize the deep respect you and your partner have and can even simply relax into the sweetness of sharing a silent moment together.
Intellectual Foreplay Question: What can you do today to raise the bar in your relationship?
Eve’s Love Tip: Bring some “Intellectual foreplay” back into the relationship. Ask deeper questions. Talk about things that really matter. Listen and pay attention. Make your love overt.