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Reviving a Boring Marriage

Sometimes, the only thing wrong with a near-dead, boring marriage is whatever's wrong with your life. And divorce can't fix that.

Marriages need novelty: new things to talk about, new things to do together, new reasons to savor the best moments of our past together.

Overwork, depression, an empty nest, or a new baby can all put us into lockstep mode. So much focus is required just to get through the work. Our old rituals and traditions that got us out of the house and doing things get pushed aside. Our lives, though full, get pretty boring.

And so we have nothing new to bring to our relationship. And we mistakenly believe it will be okay if we bring nothing when we feel we have nothing to bring.

As things grind to a halt, we start to believe our spouses would reject anything we might suggest, because now we're both bored with our lives and the relationship.

But all it takes is a bit of new. New together is nice, but even new on your own can start things rolling again. Find a Meetup on meetup.com. Put the names of three restaurants you've never been to (or three lakes or three museums or three nightclubs) into a hat, then pull one out and go.

Visit an indie bookstore and ask a clerk to help you find a book the two of you would both find interesting. Then buy two copies, so you can read it together, even for just a few minutes a day. Or go to a games store and get a new board game for two. Play it this weekend.

Or sign up for an adult education class. Maybe learn a language together. Or learn to play the ukulele. Anything that gives the two of you something new to talk about or laugh about or a new reason to celebrate some progress.

Think there's no time for anything new? Then get creative. Use paper plates for a week. Seven nights of cleaning dishes is a lot of new free time.

Or send your laundry out this week instead of doing it yourself.

Tell the folks at work you can't work late, because you have a medical appointment: there's no better medicine than time spent getting yourself and your marriage out of rut.

It's an act of love to find something new to add to your relationship, especially when you're depressed or overwhelmed or lost at sea. But it's actually a pretty easy one, probably a lot easier than handling your resentment if you wait for your spouse to make the first move. Just do it!

Comments

I love LOVE this, thanks Patty!

Unfortunately, and I've heard this from many women, it's usually the case that husbands don't want to engage in this kind of relationship enrichment and I totally get their point; not that I agree with them, but I get them. I advise wives to suggest for sure, but if your man isn't biting, don't push him, it's not fair. Find something new on your own that you can focus on. This can help stave off some of that resentment.

I so agree, Robyn. Bringing in something new together is good. But even if you have to do it solo, anything new is a boost and can prevent resentment.

I love this. Hubby and I are going through a "newness" as we support our little girl at her soccer matches (she has just recently joined). And on Monday night we had so much fun, and laughter, and just thorough enjoyment. I think that newness can also come from embracing the change that life often throws our way. And your post gives hope - so much hope, because I honestly believe that most marriages can be saved. Love this.

Thank you, Baby Mama! Embracing change, when you're lucky enough to have some show up, is indeed a great way to freshen a relationship. Thanks for sharing this.

Sometimes people resist newness, but even little things that are just a tiny bit different can perk things up. If you haven't gone to the movies in a while, go to a movie. (Especially a comedy.) If you usually walk around the park clockwise, try doing it counterclockwise. (Seriously - it makes you look at things a little differently.) Cook something you've never cooked before.

I read a blog post by a woman who was so pleased with how her life had improved since leaving her boring marriage. She had lost 5 pounds, changed her haircut, started taking a yoga class, updated her resume to look for a new job. Someone commented that she could have done all those things without divorcing her husband, and it might have had a positive impact, but she replied, in essence, that she didn't see her "dying" marriage as worth the effort. Reading that made me feel sad. In most cases, it really doesn't take an outrageous amount of effort to make things better.

That's been my experience, too, Rosemary. It's a real challenge to fix a marriage that's become unloving, violent, or financially disastrous, but fixing a boring marriage is pretty darn simple.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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