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How to Liven Up a Boring, Disconnected Marriage

A relationship which is not enjoyable will eventually end, even if there are no other problems. If you or your spouse are not enjoying your relationship, you must take action now. Later may be too late.

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You and your spouse will have a more happy married life by adding a little adventure

Marriages, just like single relationships, need to be fun. For sure there are a lot of responsibilities and things we do in marriage that are not fun, but without any fun, our marriages are just jobs.

There are a lot of people who have business partner style marriages that started out as more fun and romantic. If you ask them what the best time in there marriage was, they will often say it was at the beginning, while they still did fun things together.

Almost every person I work with to reconcile can trace back the beginning of their problems to when they and their spouse decreased or stopped doing fun things together. They have reasons for doing that of course, such as job or child demands. They prioritized these things over their fun activities and started the countdown to distance, affairs, and divorce.

Fun must not be seen as an optional marriage element if you want your marriage to survive.

Fun is necessary for maintaining marriages

Even if you are a very disciplined person who can maintain your marriage because it is the right thing to do whether you enjoy it or not, your spouse may not be. Your spouse may just be waiting for the kids to be grown some before leaving you. Or to become more financially independent.

Two things that often trigger the end of marriage are a spouse gaining financial independence, and the kids getting older. These things are not bad. It’s just that they often allow people to escape a marriage they no longer enjoy in search of a life they will enjoy more.

Many people only see two options when they are in a marriage they don’t enjoy:

  1. Stay in a marriage they don’t like, or
  2. Divorce.

Distance without conflict is indicative of the first choice. Conflict about trivial matters is indicative of the second. Are either of these things happening in your marriage?

A third option is:

  1. Putting fun back into to your marriage.

The best protection against your marriage ending is being a great partner, who your spouse would not want to lose. A big part of that is providing for the psychological well being of your spouse. Being a good helper or provider is important, but will not provide all that is needed to maintain your spouse’s psychological health.

Kids need more than food and shelter to be healthy, and so do spouses.

Even if you go out to eat every week, that doesn’t mean you are meeting your spouse’s need for enjoyment. You need to think of fun as more than getting out of the house. Fun needs to have an element of adventure. Adventure is not an optional extra. Either we add it back in or we risk losing our marriage.

Adventure can be thought of as enjoyable variety, often with an element of challenge.

Many people lose sight of why they got married in the first place. The purpose of marriage is not to see how many years you can hang in there in a life of unenjoyable routine.

The number one purpose of marriage

The purpose of marriage is not to end the enjoyable girlfriend-boyfriend relationship we have before marriage. Rather, it is to extend it for a lifetime. The most important thing about marriage is enjoying one’s partner! Unless we can do that, the children won’t have good role models, our house won’t seem like a home, and we will end up wondering why we are working so hard year after year.

Enjoying your relationship with God and your spouse will make everything else you do more meaningful. If you don’t enjoy your relationship with God, going to church becomes a burden and you will just look forward to getting out of the worship service so you can enjoy the rest of your day.

If you don’t enjoy your relationship with your spouse, you will likewise look forward to getting away from your spouse so that you can go do your own activities, without your spouse.

When we enjoy our marriages, we will not have a mid life crisis. We can only have a mid life crisis when we are unhappy with what we have and believe that we are missing out on something better.  A happy married life is major protection against that.

What if you don’t enjoy your marriage now?

If you don’t enjoy your marriage right now, start slowly to help your spouse to enjoy you. That may seem backwards, but it won’t work well to try to get your spouse to be more enjoyable first. That will create resistance as your spouse is likely to feel it is another job he or she has to do. 

If you think initiating an activity with your spouse will be resisted, then don’t initiate it. Instead, help your spouse to enjoy you more. Then, you can get to the place where your idea is not resisted.

Also, do not expect your spouse to enjoy your changes right away. Most people give up because they do too much, too fast, and expect equally quick results.

You will only have success if you do the right steps, in the right order, at the right pace.

Start by asking yourself what is one thing that would help your spouse to enjoy you more? 

Here are some ideas:

  • look happy to see your spouse every time you do
  • agree with your spouse more
  • empathize with your spouse more
  • give a compliment your spouse would enjoy receiving
  • wear clothes that your spouse likes
  • say something nice about your spouse to someone, in front of your spouse
  • leave a nice note where your spouse will find it
  • give your spouse a gift
  • do something for your spouse that is not your job to do
  • learn about something your spouse is interested in
  • plan a trip to do something your spouse likes and bring along a good attitude

These are just a few ideas to help you get your brain cells activated. This is not a to-do list. Start by doing just one more thing than usual. The best rate of change is one that your spouse enjoys, but does not make your spouse suspicious of a hidden agenda. Small changes are better than big, for getting to relationship improvement.

If you get resistance, you are either doing something your spouse doesn’t actually like, doing too big of a thing, doing too many things, or doing them too often.

If you are doing any damaging behaviors, such as arguing, complaining, criticizing, and so on, don’t expect any positive response to your good behaviors.

The right order of steps is:

  1. Stop any damaging behaviors you are doing,
  2. Continue and be consistent until trust is restored,
  3. Gradually start to do relationship building behaviors.

Following this order will help you to get to the place where your spouse will enjoy doing fun things with you again. If you have tried without success, you likely either didn’t do the right steps, tried doing them in the wrong order, or moved too fast.

Loving our spouse is a delightful challenge

There needs to be a moderate level of challenge in our relationships in order for us to stay satisfied with them. Too much challenge and we are stressed. Too little challenge and our minds drift to more exciting things. Do you remember the excitement in the challenge you had when you were first dating your spouse? You had to make a good impression and do that consistently. 

Now, you may not feel like you need to any more. That is where you are wrong. In the morning, it is my challenge to greet my wife in a way that makes her feel like I couldn’t wait to wake up and have another day to be with her. In the afternoon and evening, I have the very same challenges. 

I’m sure she would not hesitate to tell you that “Jack really loves seeing me, being with me, and hearing all about my day.” And, no matter how tired or how busy I am, I never want her to feel she is not the priority in my life. She is the love of my life because I treat her that way and think of her that way.

My happiness with my wife is largely up to me, just as your happiness with your spouse is largely up to you.

Can you guess who is responsible for whether I am happy with my life? Me, that’s right. We have a responsibility for our own happiness. Which means if we are not happy, we are the ones with the responsibility to either change our attitude or change our situation. We can do that in our marriage by being great spouses and using boundaries, if necessary. Those two things combine to give us a great marriage.

The great attitude fixer is being thankful for what we have instead of focusing on what we don’t have. The more you focus on what you actually have from your spouse that is good, the more satisfied you will be with your spouse, and the better your marriage will become.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Try having some prayer time where all you do is give thanks for everything you can think of.

Boredom can prevent a happy married life

Did you know that one of the reasons couples have conflict is to relieve boredom? Take any two people that live together day in and day out without any conflicts whatsoever and after awhile they will find things to argue about. 

Arguing about silly or meaningless things in your relationship can be a sign of boredom. It is also a divorce early warning sign

Did your husband leave his clothes on the floor? Did your wife load the dishwasher wrong? Come on–time to find more exciting challenges in your relationship besides fighting over these stupid things!

The right questions stimulate ideas

Because every couple is different, the best way to find out what would liven up your marriage is for you and your spouse to use questions that stimulate ideas, rather than just following someone else’s list of what is good to do.

Here are some questions that you and your spouse can talk about to create ideas that will help your marriage to be more fun:

  1. What were the most fun things you did in your relationship?
  2. If you won the lottery, what would you do after all of your bills and financial needs had been taken care of?
  3. Other than your family, what do you care about most in this world? How would you like to get involved with that?
  4. What did you most enjoy doing as a teenager? Are there any of those things you would like to do now?
  5. If you could be a character in any movie, what character would you like to be? What would you need to do to be more like that character in your real life?
  6. If somebody declared that you and your partner could have a day where you didn’t need to follow any rules, laws, or regulations, whatsoever, what would you like to do?
  7. If you could live in any period of history, where and when would you like to live? What interests you about that time and place?

The idea is not to have fun by answering these questions. Although that might be a novelty once or twice, it would quickly lose your spouse’s interest. The idea is to take one of these questions, answer it, and then get to work on the ideas produced. 

Let’s take one example to see how to do this:

  1. If you won the lottery, what would you do after all of your
    bills and financial needs had been taken care of?

Suppose you answered, “Buy a yacht and sail around the world.” This answer demonstrates an interest in sailing and traveling and places you haven’t been before. When you identify that, you can get to work on ways you could satisfy such interests that are within your budget and abilities.

Here are some ideas connected to these desires:

  • rent a boat,
  • take sailing lessons,
  • take a boat cruise,
  • go paddle boarding,
  • plan a trip to another country,
  • go to some random place you choose on a map while blindfolded,
  • learn a foreign language together,
  • do an around the world with restaurants representing different countries, or
  • do the same with different country’s meal nights at home.

I came up with these ideas in just a few minutes. They all came from just that one idea of buying a yacht and sailing around the world, which is not possible because of my health and lack of sailing skill. Many of those others things are possible, though. Maybe the same is true for you and your spouse.

Our fantasies, while often not realistic, do point to realistic needs and are a starting point for stimulating ideas for how to meet them.

Be careful not to criticize fantasies

You can use these questions to stimulate ideas with your spouse and get as silly as you want. I would suggest that you both make a rule not to censure or judge each others answers and understand that this is fantasy. Nevertheless, it is important to be sensitive to your partner’s feelings.

Never say hurtful, demeaning things to your spouse and never make your spouse feel undesirable. That is never funny or productive and never will be. Being honest will never compensate for being hurtful. Once out of your mouth you will not be able to take it back.

Don’t strive to be open and honest as that destroys relationships. Instead, strive to be loving and honest, which builds them.

Look for overlap, not for differences

The exciting thing about this kind of discussion with your partner is that you both are likely to have some areas of overlap, where your ideas are the same or similar. Those would be great places to start working together to put more adventure into your relationship. It will help you both to have a more happy married life.

For example, if your spouse fantasizes about traveling to all the state parks and you would love to go to Europe, what you have in common is a desire to travel. Don’t get hung up on the differences of where you would like to go. Probably you could find more commonality, such as visiting some beautiful outdoor places in Europe.

Don’t let your feelings prevent you from creating a happy married life

Feelings are best enjoyed after achieving success, and best ignored while creating success.

This is particularly true in getting out of a marital rut. You may not feel like doing things even if you think you should. Don’t let that feeling make you put it off to another day. All of the people I work with wish they had made their relationship more enjoyable before their spouse rejected them. Unfortunately, it took the rejection to get them motivated.

One way to get past your lack of motivation is to project into the future. What is likely to happen to your relationship if you continue with your current level of fun and adventure? Will your spouse really want to spend the rest of his or her life the way you two are doing now? Will you?

If your spouse is no longer interested in having a happy married life with you, is it too late?

Happily, it is not too late. But, you will have to start more at the beginning. Relationship building always starts from the point where the other person is. If your spouse is stressed with you, your first step is helping your spouse to relax. If your spouse avoids talking with you, you need to validate better. If your spouse feels you are very different, you need to work to become more similar, and so on.

As a relationship coach, I help people build their relationship from the point where their spouse is. That requires behaving like a desirable person and using good connection skills. It is very much like learning how to have good relationships when you are single. There are ways that you can behave and things you can do that will create more desire in your spouse to interact with you.

If you would like my help with these skills, I recommend you check out my Re-Connections Coaching Package. I would be happy to help you make your marriage enjoyable again for both you and your spouse.

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