Do you ever feel like your marriage is stuck in a rut? You might feel stifled, see your marriage as going nowhere, or believe that the two of you are growing apart. It took time to get into your marriage rut, and it will take time to get it out, too. Here is a seven-step approach for how to get out of your marriage rut and fall back in love again.
The Freeway of Marriage
When you take a trip on a freeway, traffic usually moves along pretty smoothly. However, there are times when you may find yourselves stuck in stalled traffic crawling along at 20 mph. You may experience a temptation to get off the freeway. The side roads through the various towns look pretty clear and are moving along okay. Then you think about the traffic lights and the curves and turns and you may reconsider.
Marriage is a lot like driving on the freeways. It can be easy for your relationship to get bogged down in the traffic and rush of everyday living. Your communication may just be crawling along, slower and slower, till you are tempted to think that another relationship may be the answer to being stuck in a rut. Hopefully, after you stop to consider the reality of your lives and you each look at your own responsibility for becoming complacent in the relationship, you both will realize that the easy or quick route of changing relationships will not make your lives better.
Seven Ways to Improve Your Relationship
So what do you do when the freeway comes to a dead stop or your marriage feels like it is on a dead-end street? Make a road map with some alternate routes: The way to get out of a rut is to reconnect with one another in a fresh way. Nothing like renewing a marriage with new habits and different expectations.
A weekend away: Take a weekend away to a quiet place with no kids, no TV, no Internet, no chores, and no work from the office to distract you from one another. Make this a time just for the two of you. Use this time to talk with one another. Talk about good memories, future dreams, current concerns, and fears. "Taking time out of your schedule, even if it’s not for a high-end getaway, seems like a need, not a luxury, to keep your relationship as strong as possible," says Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Professor Emerita of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
A weekly date: If finances are tight or you can't be away from your children for an entire weekend, find a way to spend time alone with each other each week. Saying you will have monthly dates isn't good enough when your marriage is in a rut. You need more time than that to reconnect with one another.
A peaceful room: Assess your home environment. If you don't have any rooms in your house that are uncluttered and inviting, then create such a space. Decide together to make at least one room in your home free of clutter. You both need a space that enables you to feel relaxed and calm. Such an environment can actually make you feel good about yourselves and your marriage.
If you can't get a room uncluttered in a weekend together, spend 15 minutes each day working on the room.
Write a letter: When talking about sensitive issues in your marriage, express yourself without showing hostility. Do not blame your spouse. Keep sarcasm out of the conversation. Examine your own attitudes about the issue to see if you are contributing to the problem in your marriage. If this is difficult for you to do, write down your thoughts and feelings about one issue, wait a day or so, then re-read what you wrote before giving the letter to your spouse.
Make plans for your future together: Ask yourselves if you are living the way you want to live. If not, do some brainstorming about strategies to get yourselves to where you want to be—emotionally, financially, physically, etc. Make specific plans for achieving a goal the two of you have set.
Spend time together daily: Develop a routine of spending at least 10 minutes alone together each day. Make this a time to reconnect. "Romance and time together won’t “just happen” with a busy life. It has to be planned," says Beverly D. Flaxington, author of 30 Days to Understanding Other People: A Daily Approach to Improving Your Relationships. It is not the time to share frustrations or to want to solve problems. This has to be a positive experience together. What you do with those minutes shouldn't be the same every day.
Each day, you and your spouse could spend 10 minutes talking about your expectations for the day or about good things that happened to you in the past 24 hours. You could also take a 10-minute walk, meditate, or do breathing exercises together.
Do something new: Do something new every day. Take a different route home. Eat a vegetable cooked in a different way. Watch a television show or movie you haven't seen. Discover something new about your spouse. Move a piece of furniture. Plant flower seeds you've never planted before. Walk on a different street or path. Play a new card or board game. Learn how to dance together. It doesn't matter what you do that is new. What is important is sharing what you did that was new with your spouse.