This morning, I read a newspaper columnist's response to a woman who's become bored with her 19-year marriage. The woman can't see any way out of her boredom except to divorce. Unfortunately (or perhaps very fortunately), she could afford to divorce only if she wins the lottery or lands a rich boyfriend, because they are in debt.
The columnist suggested she talk to her husband, so she can discover he's bored, too. I was flabbergasted. Talking about boredom is BORING! And it seldom leads to excitement.
She could, instead, assume love. Why would someone terrific who loves you fiercely bore you? Here are some possibilities:
- You've put the job of keeping your life interesting on his shoulders, and he hasn't any better idea than you do what might entertain you. Take back this job. Try new things. Get excited about life, and your husband will almost certainly look a lot more exciting.
- He's tried to regain your interest, but you've been unreceptive, perhaps complaining about the cost or the time it takes. You never noticed the love you were being offered, and he felt you rejected it.
- He's trying his best to interact with you in the way he believes you like best. Perhaps your tastes have changed, but you haven't let him know this.
- He's struggling way too hard at something else, like getting out of debt or banking enough for retirement or winning some competition. Once you figure out what it is, you may be able to inject excitement and closeness by pitching in on his project.
- Somewhere along the way, he handed you responsibility for keeping your sex life interesting, and you have run out of ideas. There are lots of people to ask and books to read for more suggestions. Or you could simply ask him to come up with one and give it a willing try.
- You have stopped asking the interested questions you asked while you were dating, so he's stopped looking interesting. You may think you already know all about him, but he has been changing and growing and might seem utterly fascinating if you met him today. Pretend you just met and see what happens.
The purpose of assuming love is to come up with a list of explanations like this. Trigger your memory by moving your thinking away from the problem and back to the core of your relationship.
While assuming love, you can imagine the most saintly spouse in the universe loving the world's most loveable person in the same way your spouse is loving you. Just explain how this could happen.
Keep adding to the list until you suddenly get the "aha!" that jogs your memory and points the way toward a fix for the two of you. Or keep going until you realize there are more OK explanations than bad ones for what is happening, and you get the "Ahhh" that makes everything fine again. Only if you come up empty handed should you even consider ending your marriage.
Nineteen years of shared history offers more richness than any new relationship could. As long as you two still harbor some love for each other, a really great marriage remains within your reach.