Are You in a Rut?
3 Keys that will quickly revive and breathe new life into your marriage
It is easy to get in a rut in an old relationship. The critical rut is deep. You have had many years to observe and experience the things your spouse does that irritate you. After a while the irritation often grows into disgust, lack of respect and outright rage at times.
When you allow yourself to stay in this rut, you get trapped and the marriage becomes more negative by the day. You can change your thinking, if you want these feelings to go away. Your spouse probably won’t change unless you have a serious discussion or counseling around it.
In the meantime, YOU can change the way you think about it. If you want a more loving path of experience in which to travel through life, change the way you think about your spouse and lighten up.
It is easy to get upset about the way he spills the coffee on the counter. Or the way she squeezes the tooth paste. Perhaps you don’t like the way she piles up the laundry in the bedroom. Or you can’t stand that after 10 years he still does not know where the laundry basket is.
Your rut may be even more negative with how she is always late; she isn’t interested in sex anymore; she’s become a shrew. Or that he ignores the budget and has every toy imaginable. Maybe he even has secret credit cards being sent to his mother’s house. Or she tells friends very personal stories about you and you have to deal with it when your boss brings it up…
Key #1 – Think positive, not negative
Thinking negatively about your spouse leads you to divorce court or personal misery. Change your thinking. Focus your thinking on the good things about your spouse. Recall their strengths. Savor the beautiful things they have done to make your family a healthy and happy one.
Feel gratitude about the thoughtful things they have done. The days and years of dedication as a soccer Dad. The nightly dinners of healthy food after she worked at her career each day. The incredible celebrations she put on for the kids, for you, for your parents.
How about all his help with the older people in your family – he’s taken every one of them to the doctors through cancer, heart attacks, kidney failure – 2 aunts, 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 3 daughters, a grandson, a kid on drugs, another in a treatment center for a year – all while working to support the family and nearly dying twice in surgery himself…
You have spent many years with this person who has done awesome and loving acts for you and the family. And let’s also remember the special dates, the surprises, fantastic vacations in Hawaii, and the summers at the beach. Let’s not forget romance in Paris. And daily kisses goodbye.
Change your focus on to the positive and you will get out of the rut and into a beautiful path of experience, bringing you more happiness and contentment.
Key #2 – Be Kind
Be kind – this is always the first homework assignment I give to couples. Think kind thoughts. Do kind and thoughtful things for your spouse.
George brings me coffee and biscotti in bed every morning. How can I not love him? When I have an early meeting, he always does the breakfast dishes. He texts me several times a day with “Kisses” or “How is my love?” or “I love you”. Oh, yes, he is a keeper. And I love him.
He asks everyday what he can bring home from the market. He asks me each evening how my day was and what my successes were. And I could go on and on.
I hope you are all being kind, paying attention, saying nice thoughts and feelings to your spouse, and doing many kind actions. I hope you all feel as loved as I do…
Key #3 – Give Attention
Let’s consider neglect, a major marriage killer. Mike had a great career in the finance business and was happy being a husband and father. He enjoyed spending time with his children. He stopped going to the gym to spend more time with them. He stayed with them on the weekends, giving his wife time for pedicures and shopping. He even gave up most of his Saturday golf games. He loved being a Dad.
Most women would be happy with his choices. Not Tammy. As the only daughter and apple of her father’s eye, she wanted more attention. After three children and her own extremely successful career, she was happy Mike was a wonderful father, but extremely unhappy that he had stopped being a husband.
They seldom went out; their sex life had dwindled to boring, repetitive and occasional. He neglected the marriage although he was great at his career and parenting. He had no idea he was making a mistake. He assumed the marriage would be the focus again later after the kids were grown.
Lucky for this family Tammy spoke up and asked for the time and attention she needed. With counseling and good homework assignments (which he ALWAYS did) the neglect turned to attention and they have their romance and bliss back. When I see them on my couch, it is with delight that I see them playfully in love again.
Remember, if you are not tending to your marriage,
the weeds will choke out the new growth
Give your marriage garden lots of love and pay attention to the weeds and flowers. Savor and delight in its’ beauty and bounty. It feeds your soul.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Have a little time for adult sharing after the kids go to bed.
- Make sure you are setting aside time in your busy schedules to make love.
- Have a date every week for the rest of your life – and make it exciting!
- Do fun and interesting things together.
- Find at least one activity or hobby that you love to do together.
- Rebuild the relationship to make your spouse your best friend again.
- Give three compliments to your spouse every day.
- Be physical and touch often, even in front of the children.
- Kiss each other hello and goodbye. Spend 3 minutes sharing during this.
- Remember to follow up about things which your spouse mentioned.
- Have a thoughtful conversation about something important to your spouse.
- Do things your spouse likes.
- Do something fun your spouse is not expecting.
- Say, “I love you” more than you do now.
- Text your spouse different ways of expressing, “I love you.”
- Write your own idea here.
- And here.
- And finish here.
Be a couple, not just parents. When you hit the empty nest syndrome, you want a loving person at your side, not a stranger with whom you have parented for many years. If the empty nest is a long way off, make this the best loving and romantic marriage you can imagine. Make it the marriage your friends might be jealous of, your parents would be proud of, and your children take for granted.
Read these articles each week, discuss them with your spouse, do all the activities, and by next month you will be in love again.