8 ways to get your marriage out of a rut
by Kat Hobza
A stalled marriage is not the beginning of the end- it's a reality. Kids, bills and demanding jobs can stagnate the best of marriages. That said, a marriage stuck in a rut can not be ignored. If your car got stuck in the mud, or your kid got stuck in a well (heaven forbid), you'd call emergency vehicles. A stuck marriage needs the same. Maybe you just need to drop your marriage into 4-wheel drive to get unstuck, maybe you need the jaws of life.
Here are a few ideas to get your marriage out of the muck:
1. Mini vacations
The beauty of a mini-vacation is it doesn't have to be long, expensive or elaborate to recharge your marriage. Spring for a nice hotel room in your home town. Take the afternoon off together while the kids are in school. The next time you visit your mother, leave the kids with her for the weekend. The idea is to reconnect, which doesn't take long when you remove the demands of daily life. Because you don't have to save for a year or take a lot of time off work, you can take mini-vacations two, three, four times a month!
2. Meet for a drink
We've all heard how important date nights are. That's because it is so easy to lose one another in our roles; mother, father, bread-winner, caregiver. We forget that we're also husband and wife. Date nights allow you to reconnect as adults. Try to discuss big-people stuff, like the news, the economy, religion, politics, etc. If you meet somewhere after work, pretend to be strangers. This can be a fun way to get to know each other all over again.
3. Quiet time
Find a corner of the house and turn it into a place for just you and your mate. When the guest room or an unfinished basement becomes a sanctuary devoid of toys and noise, couples have a place to catch up uninterrupted. Staying in touch is the best way to avoid ruts in the first place.
4. The inappropriate text message
It's hard to be saucy with little ears and co-workers around every corner. That's where text messaging comes in. It's sort of this generation's love note, minus the paper trail. Text your husband and let him know what you wish he was doing right now, or what you intend to do later. Any time you are thinking about each other instead of work or the kids is an opportunity to reconnect.
5. Learn something new together
Find something that suits both of you and go for it. Take dance lessons, cooking classes or go white-water rafting. My husband encouraged me to take up golf. I knew he would play it with or without me, so I gave it a try. I'm pretty awful, but it's fun. I feel blessed that after 20 years of marriage we found something we both love to do. We spend a lot of time on the course together, which we enjoy as much as the game itself.
6. Play cards
When the kids go to bed, turn off the TV and play cribbage or gin rummy together. Remember that the idea isn't to win, the idea is to hang out with one another minus distractions. Place interesting bets, or establish creative rewards for the winner. If being competitive is a problem for one of you, then come up with interesting payouts for the loser. The couple that plays together takes a roll in the hay together.
7. Plan your future
Often we find ourselves in ruts because of a particularly busy time at work or due to a demanding phase the kids are going through. What do you want to do when this stressful part of your life is behind you? Do you want to go on vacation? Do you want a different job? If work stress is caused by overtime, how do you want to spend the extra money? Discussing your future is a reminder that both of you are in the trenches together and you intend to emerge from the battle together.
Many couples become unhappy with the way they look and feel. Exercise releases endorphins, relieves stress and gets your bod ready for the beach. The buddy system will motivate you to stick with it. If you don't have the resources to work out together before or after work, try walking together at the end of the day or buy a treadmill for the basement. You'll both be feeling sassy in no time, which might lead to more creative forms of exercise…
Remember: If you’ve been married for more than 10 minutes, your marriage will get stuck in a rut. Period. It doesn’t mean your marriage is a failure or that it’s time to trade each other out. Life, stress, work, family and kids will all interfere with the happiest, most in-love couples. Try viewing the inevitable rut as an opportunity to revitalize. Your marriage, unlike your car, doesn’t need a tow-truck to get unstuck. It just needs a little nudge in the right direction.