Written By: Deidre Prewitt, MSMFC, LPCC
Sometimes after couples have been together for a long time they feel that the relationship gets stale. Date night (if you have it) is predictable and mundane. You have run out of things to talk about. You are existing but have yet to live that life you thought you would when you said "I do". Marriage does not have to be boring. It can be the best thing you have going; if you are willing to put some work into it.
Clarify Your Vision
Many of us had a clear vision of what we thought marriage would be. We daydreamed about travel, romantic nights, beautiful homes, the works. As we mature we realize that those dreams got pushed back by mortgages, growing careers, or children. We stopped allowing ourselves to live in what could be and traded for right now. Challenge yourselves to go back to your vision for what your marriage should be. Talk about the vision, write it down, put it somewhere you have to look at it every day. The clearer the vision the more likely you are to work toward it.
Shut The World Out
I cringe when I see a couple sitting across the table from one another at a restaurants deeply engaged in their phones. We live in a society where our devices get more attention than our spouses. If electronics are not screaming for our attention, our children, or careers are. In order for a relationship to work it has to receive some uninterrupted attention. On a regular basis make a point to turn everything off and tune everything else out that does not feed your connection. You both deserve one another's undivided attention. If we give all of our time, energy, and resources to everything else in life you may find that you may notice one day that are sleeping next to a complete stranger.
Schedule An Appointment Everyday
Effort and attention are key to making a relationship work long term. Some people argue that scheduling time together (particularly for intimacy) makes the event boring and routine. I challenge the couples I see in my counseling office to schedule special time together. Drs. John and Julie Gottman (the Gurus of couples' therapy) assert that 15-minute daily check ins are extremely important for repairing damaged relationships or maintaining great ones. They teach us that the "masters" of relationships understand the need to touch base with their partner daily. Most of us live by our calendars but leave connection to chance. We put effort in to this relationship in the beginning to ensure its success, why not put effort in to maintain its survival? Being intentional is imperative to having satisfying relationships.
Learn Something New
Even partners who have been married decades can learn something new about their spouses. At some point along the journey of a long-term relationship we start to believe that there is nothing more to glean from this union. Our knowledge of one another becomes stale and outdated. Just as you have changed since the beginning of your relationship, so has your partner. Take time out to learn likes and dislikes, observe the way they move, update your knowledge of their world. There is always something to learn about the complex human you chose to do life with. We are fully alive when we are growing, so take notice of the ways your partner has grown since you met.
In life we are constantly moving and doing. With all of the things on our "to-do" lists we struggle to want to add enhancing our relationship to that list; until the neglect is apparent. We prioritize so many things above our marriage and then panic when it seems as though it is falling apart. Most couples are so excited about the wedding and honeymoon that they forget to plan a marriage. The wedding is a beginning to a (hopefully) long, happy life together. Happy marriages are amazing investments; but they require your determination, planning, and prioritizing. Your marriage can be amazing; if you are willing to make the effort.