During the past few years, I have increasingly come across more and more individuals, both men and women who have expressed “boredom” with their relationships or worst yet, with their marriages. In the tradition of research, I sought to discover what were some of the reasons for the boredom and here is a compilation of some of the reasons I was able to find:
-A lot of routine and predictability
-Lack of surprise or delight in the relationship
-All Efforts toward providing for the family financially
– The males perception of the females’s lack of hobbies outside of the marriage and family
-The females Perception of the male’s lack of initiative and planning for joint and dynamic
activities whether as a couple or as a family
According to an article in www.foryourmarriage.org, “for some couples boredom is accepted as suffering to be endured. Common passive ways to escape boredom are to sleep or daydream. Other couples expend considerable effort and expense to remedy boredom through elaborate entertainment. These are only temporary fixes, however, since boredom is not so much dependent on one’s environment as a lack of imagination. You might say it is actually the person him/herself who is dull”.
In a 2014 article in the Huffington Post, a 24-year-old male complains anonymously about the fact that he’s become so bored in his relationship with his wife, that he is considering divorce. His chief complaint: “she’s not passionate about anything, but us”. He goes on to say that although he doesn’t mind that she doesn’t work outside the home, and he’s the breadwinner, but he does mind that “she is not even passionate about a hobby”. Within that same thread, interestingly, a commenter on the thread, a female responds that “may be it’s not her and may be it’s you”. She says this after she says that her husband chooses to go party with his friends in an irresponsible manner, and hence she feels she needs to be the responsible one. We say, it’s probably a combination. It takes two to Tango as they say.
Why not both parties put some effort? And no it’s not just about “spicing” it up with sex toys and other “extracurricular” activities, because those can eventually lead to boredom as well. How about instead, we start by avoiding what we should do, and do what we feel, and treating the relationship like it’s a person rather than a thing. Many couples assume that a good relationship just is. It’s fun, loving, exciting, etc. etc. all on it’s own. They assume that if their relationship gets stale, it’s a bad relationship and it’s written in the stars. Not True. It was during the Season 6 and Episode 15 of Sex and the City that I first discovered the verb “shoulding”. The episode basically described that as women, we are particularly vulnerable to doing what we should be. For example, the show mentioned, should be married before our 30’s, having a steady income and a high profile job by the age of 30, and children before the age of 35, etc. Samantha had just been in a clinic testing and a not so pleasant experience hit her in the face. Later on, in observation, Carrie reflected in her column and wrote, “Why are we shoulding all over ourselves?”
Relationships are hard and marriages even harder. This is of course because the investments are stacked up higher. So, in addition to constant problem-solving, Perseverance, and an attitude of “I’m in it to win it” are key during the hard/boring times. As long as you know the relationship is good for you, and I want to emphasize the importance of that differentiation, keep the friendship and the passion alive.
Here I venture to going in to the topic of Relationship Rut with some of those views but also taking a global view because let’s face it, a 50% divorce rate is not anything to brag about. First comes love, then comes marriage, has turned in to first comes divorce and then comes bankruptcy. What gives?
I want to first begin with a preface; that not every happy relationship has to end in marriage. Not every happy marriage needs to have offsprings, (one of my favorite parts of the Lion movie was the part where actress Nicole Kidman playing the role of Sheru’s adoptive mom tells him that adopting him was a choice and it was not because her and her husband could not bare children). Also, not every long-term marriage is a successful marriage just because it has lasted. The point is that, we as a species, have many facets to us and one of those facets is our need to relate and feel understood by our partners. We’ve been acculturated to not just mate and then leave one another, but rather to pick a mate and live our lives as partners, and if we decide to procreate, raise our offsprings together. But the trouble is that the work that goes in to that, did not come with an owner’s manual.
Different cultures and peoples of the world, have lived, loved and perhaps married in their own way and have tales to tell. Those tales have given life to today’s values and as 21st century inhabitants of earth, we live the luxury to pick and choose which values work for us and that we “should” rather than fall into. Even back in the days when options were next to none, and oppression pressed like a cloud hard on women, as per an article by PBS Khadija, the first wife of the Prophet Muhhammad, a confident and shrewd businesswoman, first hired the Prophet to lead her trading caravans, and then although many years his senior, proposed marriage to him. She was also the first person to convert to Islam. If she could choose the way she lived her life and led her relationship, then we all can as well.
Here are my top 10 recommendations for
1.Treat the relationship like a Person not like a thing! Think, Plan, Act is what we call them. Think about how your significant other makes you feel and how you want to make her feel. Plan dates, outings, communication points, getaways for her alone and for you both. And finally, play your part by executing those plans. And if you see shortcomings as far as what they can do better, don’t hold back. After all, a large part of conflict resolution in any relationship is to foresee and plan for positive outcomes rather than avoiding the uncomfortable conversations.
- How ya doin? Whether by phone or in person, ask your partner, what’s new in their life at least once a day and listen with intent. This helps you keep a pulse on the relationship, and you are a pro-active rather than passive participant. Because women are more communicative, most men falsely believe that they are in charge of the relationship and they wait and wait for the female to express their wants and needs. And that is not only boring but also not very satisfying for the woman.
- Confucius says. As a cultural group, Asian Americans are sometimes referred to as the “model minority” This is based on their relative success (in business and education), strong family ties (and low divorce rate), and low dependency on public assistance. As a group, Asian Americans have the highest percentage of marriage (65 % versus 61% for whites) and the lowest percentage of divorce (4% versus 10.5% for whites). No culture is perfect because, as we know, no human is perfect. But, being that cognitions give life to behaviors, it is noteworthy to know some of the cultural values that may help with keeping the longevity in Asian relationships. According to www.healthymarriageinfo.org , one such value differentiation is the fact that Asians do not believe that love in a relationship needs to be vocal; in other words, they believe that rather than extroverted expressions of love, a good relationship is based on silent, yet persevering acts of self-sacrifice and long-term and undissolvable commitment. See other values here.
- Singin’ in the Rain. You know that one song or series of songs, which as soon as you hear immediately, brings up a warm feeling to your heart or a fond memory of a happy occasions? What if you could actually duplicate that feeling and multiply by 10? Take some time to make a playlist of favorite songs you both love. Make one list of slow and one list of fast songs and call them “Our songs”.
- Vents without borders. One of the biggest complaints that exist in relationships goes like this:
“he never listens to me”, or “she is always complaining”.
These statements are one of the reasons boredom creeps in. And in addition to boredom, a myriad of
possible other not so positive feelings such as resentment, or annoyance. Freud the father of
psychoanalysis believed in a process called Free Association. This is basically where you vent and vent
and vent and allow your thoughts and feelings freely flow and get expressed without feeling judged or
interrupted. Almost Everyone’s phone comes equipped with a voice recorder these days. Rather than
call up your friend, your family member or your partner after not having seen him or her after
however long it may be, use the recorder to your hearts content to vent and vent and vent some more.
And once your venter is emptied out, you will notice a sense of relief, which will allow you to be less
neurotic, and more relaxed.
- Mirror, Mirror on the wall. Depending on our current sense of self, and previous experiences with certain tasks, we constantly go from the feelings zone to the cognitions zone. In other words, sometimes we want our partners to be compassionate and just listen, and sometimes we want our partners to help us problem solve. Rather than just vent without purpose, first decide in your own mind which zone you are in before you bring your partner on-board, this way you avoid the pitfall of feeling unheard or thinking your partner is unable to help you.
- Simon Says. Share where your head’s at. One sentence is all it takes. Ex. “I have had a very exciting day and I feel very energetic!” , “I Have had a very demanding day and feel exhausted!”, “I’ve Had a situation with a coworker and feel furious!”, “”our daughter has been nagging for the past hour and I feel depleted”. Etc. etc. This emotionally intelligent technique accomplishes two things at the same time: a) it allows you to acknowledge your feelings, and b) it informs your partner what they can expect and what you can expect of them. This step should definitely be done after you’ve already done#3. Then, you start with the sentence, ask for a time line of 5. 10, or 15 minutes for yourself, and then you end with one sentence that summarizes how you feel/think as described in #4 and provide that information to your partner. Ex. I feel stuck with a situation at work and need your help to problem solve. Or Ex. I am very pissed with something that happened today, and I am sharing that with you so you don’t think it’s about you.
- Rome was not built in one day. Romance is not just hugs and kisses, flowers and chocolate. It is common interests. You don’t have to hibernate the entire week or the entire month, because you are waiting for that vacation, that event, or that invitation. Live your life for today and build everyday moments together. Build a bucket list of everyday activities, fantasies, places, or discoveries you both like to make together and depending on your schedule, designate one day of the week to take turns and do them together.
- Knock it out of the park. For those week days where you have had a very busy, stressful and possibly annoying work day, have on reserve a brainless exercise where you both let off some steam while having a fun and silly time. Yes, rather than the usual “lets have dinner and veg in front of the T.V., how about some of these activities: playing a favorite video game from your “Our Songs” library from #2 above, taking a 15 min walk holding hands, observing the scenery around you and not saying a single word, playing a favorite relaxing/up beat tune (depending on your energy level) paired with a nice glass of wine, cup of relaxing hot tea, or warm milk with honey and ginger and dancing together, etc. etc.
- Surprise, Surprise. Many couples, especially those with small children fall into the rut of thinking they need to do every task in their household before venturing to make love with their partner. Big Mistake! Locks, music and action is what we say! Sex before anything else. Saving the best for last is not always the way to go people! Remember the scene in Pretty Woman, where Richard Gere returns to the hotel after work, and Julia Roberts or Vivian as she is called in the movie greets him with her nude body, wearing nothing else, but a tie she has bought for him earlier in the day and Kenny G is playing in the background? Close your eyes for one minute and imagine one of you at the stove, and the other walking through the door. You exchange a quick hello and a quick glance and then off you go to the routine of homework, getting food on the table, then clearing the dishes and cleaning and before you know it, it is 8pm and time to go to bed. By this time, your passion has been replaced by stains on your shirt from cooking, tired feet and over stimulation from adhering to everyone’s needs except for yours and sex seems like another task. Flip the switch and put that fun activity first and what you have is more love in the kitchen, more peace and relaxation over dinner around the kids, and more smiles.
And oh yes, do not bring the Tube into the bedroom. I repeat do not bring the Tube into the bedroom This includes, laptops, smart pads, phones, and even books, yes I said even books. Your bedroom should be your sanctuary and retreat cave. The only stimulating and entertaining thing in it should be the two of youAll and all, do not treat your marriage as a finished product, but rather as something to cultivate. That is a realm of Confucianism as opposed to the western thought as well; marriage is the beginning of a love affair rather than a happy ending to a romance.