Is your marriage stuck in a rut? Are you bored of the routine: wake up, get the kids ready, see them off or drop them off at school, message back and forth with your spouse about the kids and all the household logistics? Have you run out of things to say to one another? Do you feel there is nothing more to learn about your spouse? This is what a marriage rut feels like. And I know all about it. And how to fix it.
What is a Marriage Rut?
A marriage rut is when you and your spouse are out of sync. You lack passion. Your sex-life has gone to the dogs. You don’t look forward to spending time together and find that social media is the most exciting thing about your life.
You may even feel like it is time to call it quits! But, I am here to urge you to put the brakes on that plan. Take a beat and figure out what is truly going on.
What can cause a marriage rut?
- Raising kids- Kids need boundaries are routines these are great for their development. But the routine can wreak havoc with your relationship. The humdrum of knowing what to expect can seep into your marriage and make it feel boring.
- Work- To live our best life we have to work. Sometimes our need to make a living can get in the way of who we are making a life for. Spending most of your time working that you have nothing left to give to your spouse when you get home can cause a marriage rut.
- You have stopped doing the things you love- when you stop doing the things you love to do, you become idle and can easily project your lack of zest for life on your spouse.
- Not curious- you have decided you know all there is to know about your spouse and so you are no longer curious. The initial excitement that came with getting to know one another has fizzled out.
- A new baby- almost every woman I know struggles with their esteem after having a baby and this filters into her marriage. Also, the addition of a new family member temporarily strains the already set dynamics at home.
- Misaligned expectations- after being together for a long time, we can take for granted regarding what our spouse’s expectations of us and of themselves.
One surprising way to get out of your marriage rut
I have been in a bit of a marriage rut the past few months but, this past week it took on a whole new meaning. For the first time in my marriage, I wondered what it would look like to be out of it. Out, not because the love is no longer there but because we couldn’t seem to figure out a way to get back to one another.
The pouty silences, conversations only about household and kids’ logistics. And “good morning” and “good night,” for an entire week! This was uncharted territory for us.
On Saturday, we decided to talk it out, can we talk ourselves out of the rut? We didn’t and we did. The one surprising thing we did: Reassure one another. Admit the rut and reassure. This did the trick and dissolved a portion of the stuckness.
Let me just say, I finally understand why people who have been married for a long time admit they have enquired about divorce lawyers, I am not there, I am just saying I get it now.
How to talk yourselves out of a marriage rut
Before you attempt to talk to your spouse, get clear about your feelings, as clear as you have capacity for. Then remember, the point is not to hurt one another anymore than the rut already does.
Don’t blame the other person. Nothing good comes from making the other person feel bad. The goal is to fix and draw closer together. So forget the blame game and just state your experience as level-headed as possible.
It sounds something like this: I am experiencing this moment in our lives as difficult. I feel like we don’t talk as much as we used to. We also don’t hang out just the two of us, this makes me feel sad and disconnected from you. What solutions can we come up with? How are you finding this moment in our lives?
This way of talking to your spouse creates room for creative solutions. Your spouse does not feel cornered or blamed as you are just relaying your experience and then asking for their experience and suggestions on how to move forward.
Yes, it may not be as simple in practice, this is why it is important to get clear about what your intention with the talk is. If you don’t get a strong conviction the goal is to fix, if you are still stuck in the, “it your fault that…” then it is probably best to leave the talk until you can see things differently.
What I learned from this one thing
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When we are stuck in a rut, it is another way of feeling like you are being taken for granted. And once someone reassures you of your position in their life, the stress of it subsides. When you or your spouse feel disconnected, it is easy to assume they no longer want to do life with you and the same goes for them.
We both shy away from being vulnerable at a time when vulnerability is needed the most. Being able to say to my husband, “we are in a rut and I don’t know what to do about it.” And have him respond, “yeah, and it’s okay, some things take more than one sit-down to fix.”
Just that sentence made all the difference. In that one utterance, my own fears around the marriage rut disappeared. The fears are actually around abandonment, and as much as I have done the work here, this fear will keep creeping back into my life because it is a fundamental one.
The sentence acknowledges the rut and it reassures the rut will not last forever. And sometimes it is okay to sit in the rut, catch your breath before you dive back in.
Thrive In the Marriage Rut
We can thrive in the marriage rut only when we reassure our spouse we are not going anywhere. Once we understand that we deal with stressors in our lives differently and allow the other person to decompress in a way that makes sense and is safe for them, we can sit in the rut while we decompress from our own stuff.
Five things you can do while in the rut
- Take time to realign your needs and see which you are able to meet by yourself. It is important to get clear about what you want and what is no longer working for you.
- Appreciate what is working. While you in a rut, you may feel like nothing is working and so it will be hard to list the things that are but, try. It will help, trust me.
- Admit you’re in a rut and reassure your spouse. We are in a dark hole but we will find our way out.
- Give praise- go out of your way to let your partner know when he/she has done something right.
- Touch- hold hands, place your hand on your partner’s shoulder and/or hug your partner a little longer.
- BONUS: Get curious about your spouse. Read this post on Your Tango
Marriage ruts are not a new thing and can be navigated with love and patience.
Sometimes it is okay to rest from always trying to fix and go within. Acknowledge the rut and assure your spouse that you guys will figure it out.
For me, the reassurance was all it took. We aren’t completely out,yet, but we are curious and our senses are heightened around what the other person needs, and that is a great start.
Did you find this helpful? Comment below and share how you navigate your marriage rut?
Mandisa is just a mama, an award-winning author and wife. She is healing her childhood trauma through writing while focusing on raising emotionally healthy boys and navigating the married life.
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