Dissatisfaction in marriage can happen when couples lose the regular fun and adventure they used to have. Even small changes can bring joy and closeness back.
Marriages, just like single relationships, need to be fun. The idea that marriage is an institution for the raising of children, maintaining of a home, and the raising of capital is not a particularly fun one. A happy married life and loving feelings go hand in hand, so fun and adventure are basic requirements. Adventure is not an optional extra. Either we add it back in or we risk losing our marriage. Unlike times past, few people will stay a lifetime in a relationship that is all work and no play. A happy married life is not only possible, it is assured, if you will commit to following some basic principles.
The number one purpose of marriage
The traditional view of marriage leaves out the most important thing about marriage–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. 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. Also, do not expect your spouse to enjoy your changes right away. Most people give up because they do to much, too fast, and expect equally quick results. What is one thing that you think would help your spouse to enjoy you more? How about becoming more interested in something your spouse enjoys? Or arranging to a trip to go somewhere or do something that your spouse would enjoy? Or wearing clothing that appeals to your spouse? Or saying things to your spouse that make him or feel really special to you? Maybe giving your spouse a surprise gift for no reason at all? If you can think of something, then do it just for your spouse’s sake and NOT to get anything from your spouse. If you can’t think of anything, my free downloads for men or women can help you get you started.
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. 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 in, 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 her is largely up to me, just as your happiness with your spouse is largely up to you.
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. Did your husband fold the towels wrong? Did your wife park the car too close to the garage door? 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.
If you won the lottery, what would you do after all of your bills and financial needs have been taken care of?
Other than your family, what do you care about most in this world? How would you like to get involved with that?
What did you most enjoy doing as a teenager? Are there any of those things you would like to do now?
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?
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?
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 the first one for example:
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. Then, get to work on some part of this. What you could do would depend on your budget, but here are some ideas: rent a boat, take sailing lessons, take a boat cruise, go paddle boating, plan a trip to another country, go to some random place you choose 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. 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 as idea stimulators 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. And, once out of your mouth will not be able to be put back in.
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 when creating success. This is particularly true in getting out of a marital rut. You just won’t feel like doing things and although you will think it is a good idea, you will want to put it off to another day. All of the people I work with wish they had made their relationship more enjoyable for their spouse before their spouse started an affair or said they were divorcing. One way to get past your lack of motivation is to look at what is likely to happen to your relationship if it is more like a job for your spouse than it is a pleasure. Will he or she really want to spend the rest of his or her life that way?
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. You won’t be able to motivate your spouse to just go on adventures with you. You may have to start with just helping your spouse to enjoy small talk with you again. The more your relationship has slipped, the more you will need to start over and the less your spouse will be interested in doing that. But, by working on attracting and connecting your spouse rather than convincing your spouse, he or she can once again desire to be with you. If it hasn’t gotten too bad for you, there are some resources that are free or low cost that can help you to re-interest your spouse in your relationship. If your best efforts are not making progress, you may wish to consider a coaching package for reconnecting with a disinterested spouse.