It’s the end of the year. Most of us will take a few moments to evaluate 2023. Did we reach our goals? Did anything significant happen? How is our couple relationship? Is it boring, uninteresting, and feeling stale? Am I losing interest? Depending on your answer, maybe, it’s time to shake things up a bit, and put a little fun and excitement back into your relationship.
For most couples. day-to-day routines quickly render things mundane. Like the caged rat running on the wheel, you want to break out and do something different. Yes, routines are comforting, but they get old: wake up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, interact with the kids, watch TV, and go to bed. Rinse and repeat tomorrow.
Or have you ever noticed this scene: A couple is out dining in a nice restaurant. Most of the evening, they don’t talk to each other. Instead, they are on their phones not interacting at all. There is no conversation with the person right across the table. To me, this signals a problem. The phone, a mere object, has their attention over their partner.
A survey by the group called, Lasting, found that only 34% of married people believed their marriage had a healthy emotional connection. Yet emotional connection is essential to keep a marriage sustained. Thankfully, you can improve your emotional connection skills, e.g., listening, validating how your partner feels, asking open-ended questions, etc.
While you can appreciate familiarity, and enjoy the comforts of routine, it’s time to prevent boredom. Here are 5 tips:
- Add novelty. Novelty stimulates dopamine, a neurotransmitter that brings pleasure and the feelings of reward. Novelty is good for the brain and for relationships. So, what is something novel you can do? It doesn’t have to cost money. Things like finding a new bike trail, a picnic in your backyard, cooking a new recipe together–you get it, cheap and new.
- Get active. Don’t give in to tiredness–it will make you even more tired. Instead, get active. Start walking, exercising, and being physical together. It’s easy to sit at home and get on a device, which is not interactive. Put down the electronics, turn off the TV and get outside or do something inside. Take on a home project, a new skill to learn or take a language class together. Make yourself move off the couch and your mood will improve as well. A better mood makes a better partner.
- Be curious about your partner. Discuss life goals and dreams and what you long to build together. Continue to get to know your partner. Recently, I heard my husband tell a story I had never heard about his past. After all these years, I can still learn new things about him.
- Lose the self-focus. Instead, find new ways to serve in your relationship. Think about the needs of the relationship not just your own. What can you do to make things interesting? Often, this includes continuing to develop yourself as a person. You can have interests and hobbies and those can be shared with your partner. A few years ago, Barry Corey, president of Biola University, wrote a blog on the virtue of boredom. He defined boredom as “creating uninterrupted space without ‘connectivity’ to nurture relationships with ourselves, with others, with God.’ He thinks we may stay more connected to devices to not miss out—the old FOMO effect. Instead, we need conversations that build empathy and real connection. Boredom can be due to excessive self-focus. Instead of, “What do I need to feel better?” Ask, “What does my relationship need to be more intimate?”
- Be spiritually connected. Could you be spiritually restless and confusing that with boredom? Are you looking to things to satisfy your boredom and have wandered from the things of God and intimacy with him? Professor and blogger, Jared Wilson wrote, “When we are bored, it can only be because we have stopped looking at Jesus. He can’t be boring. If we find him boring, it’s because we are boring. The deficiency is ours, not his.” He’s making a point. When we don’t give our attention and affection to Christ, we’re really saying, “God, you’re not enough. I need something more.” The same is true in our marriage relationships. We stop giving our attention and affection to our spouse and think we need something more. Grow your intimacy with Christ who must be at the center of your relationship. Spiritual intimacy will greatly improve your partner intimacy. Certainly, God is not boring. There is much to discover when it comes to His mysteries, love, and care for you. Embark on a Bible study together or a time of reading and reflection. As you develop your intimacy with Christ as a couple, your relationship will improve.