Are You in a Marital Rut?

Marital Rut - AdobeStock_245944656“Marriage is a long journey, and any long journey requires occasionally getting off the road to eat, to fill up the car with gas, or simply to rest. Has your love fallen into a marital rut? Is your marriage slowly getting buried under the daily routine? What can you do differently to break out of the box and renew your love for each other?” (Gary Thomas)

Good questions, aren’t they? There’s hardly a relationship around that doesn’t hit a time when life becomes so “daily” that those involved don’t find themselves bored. We know that we’ve fallen into quite a few marital ruts ourselves. Who hasn’t? You would be quite the unique couple if you haven’t.

With that said, if you’re finding this in your marriage, we have a few suggestions for you that might help.

First, the following insight comes from one of our favorite books by Gary Thomas. It’s titled, Devotions for a Sacred Marriage. Below is portion of a devotional titled, “Marital Ruts.”

Marital Rut?

“Maybe your rut is more behavioral. You’ve learned to tune out your spouse’s voice. Or you always make love in the same, predictable way or on the same, predictable night. Maybe you’ve completely stopped trying to find creative ways to demonstrate your affection and care. Perhaps you’ve become too ensconced in the workweek routine —the early-morning departure, the commute, and the time away from home. You come back in the evening so tired and grouchy —that you’re completely missing opportunities to affirm and reconnect with each other.

“Never underestimate the element of occasional surprise in the delighting of your spouse and building up your marriage. It can be so simple. It’s a wife going to the trouble of picking out an audio book that her husband can listen to on his morning commute. Maybe it’s a husband buying his wife a completely unexpected gift. This is unconnected to any holiday or anniversary, for no other reason than to tell her he loves her.

“What would it mean to your spouse if you took an afternoon off? You take time away from work or watching the kids. Perhaps you go to an early movie, take a walk around the lake, or go on a picnic. Sometimes all it takes is something out of the ordinary. It’s something that says, ‘I don’t take you —or us —for granted. I’ve put some special thought into this. And I want to fight the ‘murderous repetitions’ and ‘infernal element of boredom.’

And then Gary goes on to suggest a spiritual solution. It is to adopt a:

New Spirit and Attitude

“Through Ezekiel, God promised Israel, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26) In the same way we can become calloused toward God, so we can become calloused toward each other. Pray for a new spirit and attitude toward your spouse. Pray that your ‘heart of stone’ will become a ‘heart of flesh.’

“Occasional ruts are inevitable in any long-term relationship, but they’re never insurmountable. We can break out of them if we really want to.”

Are you in a marital rut? And if you are, do you want to break out of it? If you do, it will take a “mental shift” to do so. Sheila Wray Gregoire talks about the “mental shift” that is involved to get out of marital ruts. She is addressing wives. But it pertains to husbands, as well. So if you’re a husband, don’t dismiss it. (Just change out the “boring” gripes you may have.) Sheila writes:

“Marriages tend to lose that spark, and become boring. That is because we focus on the marriage’s areas of weakness. We don’t communicate well. He doesn’t do enough of the housework. He leaves all the childcare to me. All he thinks about is sex. Etc. Etc. And these things tend to be the things we talk about—that dominate our conversation. So the marriage becomes tense at worst, and boring at best. You can’t thrive if you’re always looking at all the things you each do wrong. The marriages that thrive tend to be the ones where people focus on their strengths.”

Suggestions to Break Out of Marital Rut

In Sheila’s article (which we link to below) she gives several good suggestions. Here are a few:

“When’s the last time you really laughed together? Had fun together? Relaxed together? What were you doing? Maybe a few years ago you pulled out a puzzle, and realized he [she] really liked doing puzzles, and you liked it, too. But you haven’t pulled one out since. Maybe you’re awesome at playing Monopoly together.

“Instead of living in a boring marriage, ask, ‘What are our strengths as a couple?’ Are you sporty together? Can you lead a great Bible study together? Are you good youth leaders at church? Perhaps you both are musical. Are you good at painting a room together or fixing up the house? Figure out what you can do together that makes you feel energized, and that touches your interests and/or gifts. And then do more of it! The way to avoid marriage ruts is to do the things you’re good at together. This way you can feel successful as a couple.” (To learn more, go to Sheila’s article, Avoiding Marriage Ruts

More Marital Rut Suggestions?

Now, this next suggestion comes from Autumn Jones. This sure works in our marriage:

“Stay Flirty. Don’t let the art of flirting die — send a sassy text to your spouse to keep the spark going. As Parenting magazine suggested, try to have at least one flirty exchange a day to counter all those that have to do with daily life stuff.” (From her article, “13 Ways to Get Your Marriage Out of a Rut”)

Autumn also suggests:

“Pass notes. Write each other little notes with reminders of your love. And then to add a little fun to this note-passing gesture, place it in an unexpected place to catch your partner off guard, as suggested by Parents magazine.”

Stephen Kaech gives this additional tip about getting out of a marital rut:

“My wife and I have learned over the years to simply steer our relationship out of the ruts periodically, even daily to keep our relationship fresh. When one of us senses that the routine is lasting too long, we will do something crazy to steer our way out. It may be something simple like deliberately messing up the words to a song on the radio as we drive home from work. This then turns into a contest to see who can make up the craziest lyrics.

“Or it could be sneaking up behind my wife while she does the dishes and pantsing her while she’s elbow-deep in soap suds. (Don’t worry; our kids are all out of the house.) The bottom line here (pun intended) is to just do simple things that break up the routine to help avoid the short-term hazards.” (From the Christianmingle.com article, “How to Avoid a Relationship Rut in Your Marriage”)

Have Fun!

Yes, we know this last suggestion isn’t the most innocent one. But come on… you’re married! This is allowed. Have fun! After all, as a married couple, you have God’s blessing!

And then here’s a suggestion from an article written for Cornerstone Marriage and Family Ministry:

“Get Playful: It’s been aptly said, ‘couples who play together stay together.’ Participating in, various kinds of fun and playful activities with your spouse is a great way to keep you engaged, connected and interested in each other and your relationship. Maintaining your youthful spirit and childlike nature can keep things light in your relationship.

“Fun activities might include: having occasional game nights when you play table games together. Be humorous with one another. These activities allow you some diversion. So have fun with each other and in the process grow doing activities you would each like to try.

“Then create a list of places you would like to go (i.e. sporting activities to play, cities to visit, day-trips to take, museums to tour, etc.). Check out a music concert, a car show, a county fair, a play, or a dance festival. Then randomly select an event or place each week. And then go do something new and fun that loser together, rather than becoming bored and feeling disconnected from the one you love.” (From their article, “5 Tips to Get Your Marriage Out of a Rut”)

And then, Harold and Bette Gillogly have a web site at GTO.com (Grow Toward Oneness) that has some helpful tips.

Among the resources offered is a feature called: Romantic Tips. They offer “Romantic Tips for Husbands” and “Romantic Tips for Wives,” which you can also find a link to in the article:

Romantic Tips for Husbands and Wives

Marital Rut: Tips to Escape

Just so you can see a sample of the Gillogly’s suggestions, below is one of the tips they give for wives. And below it is one of the tips they give for husbands:

Wives:

Make one Saturday morning this month very special. Serve your husband breakfast in bed. Then crawl back into bed with him and help him eat it. Arrange for (or with) the children so you will not be disturbed all morning. And then sleep, cuddle, watch TV or “whatever” ‘til noon. If the kids are in the house, make sure you lock your bedroom door. You can even hang a homemade “Do Not Disturb” sign on the doorknob.

Husbands:

Give your wife a “Time Coupon.” Simply take a 3×5 card and write “This coupon is worth two hours of time together. It is redeemable any day this week.” Your time —undivided attention time —is very valuable to your wife. In fact, many wives spell love T-I-M-E!

In closing, we suggest the following to keep in mind for your time together: (1) Do something that leaves you free to talk to one another. (2) Allow yourselves some amount of privacy.

For additional tips we encourage you to visit the Romantic Ideas topic of this web site. You’ll also find conversation questions you can use in the Communication Tools topic.

Lastly, keep in mind: “You can keep your love alive if you give it priority in your system of values.”

Above all, pray for a new spirit and attitude toward your spouse. Pray that any “heart of stone” that either of you could have will be turned into a “heart of flesh.”

Steve and Cindy Wright

— ADDITIONALLY —

To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:

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