Are you and your partner having the same fights over and over again? Is your sex life off, barely there, or non-existent? Are you bored, feeling alone, or like you’re just roommates? If so, your marriage may be in a rut. If you sense this is the case, don’t worry - it’s normal; and very fixable with a little TLC to help you get back on track.
Marital Bliss is a Myth
Well… sort of. A happy and healthy marriage is one hundred percent possible! But within that happy marriage, there will still be challenges, disagreements, and ruts when bad habits and complacency slip in. We are all human, and living with someone else - no matter how much you love them - will come with conflict at some time or another. And when you add children, mixed families, taking care of elderly parents, and all that life throws at you, (like a pandemic), it’s no wonder we sometimes retreat into ourselves for some peace! It’s how we react to these stresses that determines the health (and happiness) of the relationship.
Bridging the Gap
Whether your marriage is in a rut due to withdrawing purposely for self-preservation, or simply because you’ve become complacent, it’s time to bridge the gap between you again. Sharing your desire for change may not feel easy, especially if it's been awhile. It’s a vulnerable act that takes courage, and it feels “safer” to stay in your own head about things. Yet when you stop sharing with your partner, the rut deepens and distance creeps in, pulling the two of you further apart over time. It will only become harder to bring the two of you together again.
Beware the Triggers
Bringing up the changes you want to see in the relationship is a good first step, but first we need to be aware of potential triggers that will derail your efforts. You may already have tried to bring it up, only to get no response or changes from your partner. As a result, you sit in frustration, anger, and resentment that continues to grow. This of course, increases the distance even more.
Relationships function as a system. So if one part of the system (you) is hurt/angry/disappointed, it’s likely that your guard is up. You have moved into protection mode as a natural reaction to the increased stress in your relationship.
Unfortunately, your response can trigger a similar reaction from your partner, pushing them into a version of fight, flight, or freeze. Now you are both in protection mode, and further away from vulnerability than when you started (with the best of intentions!)
Be the Change
That’s why I invite the women and men that I work with to be the change in order to shift out of the rut in their relationships (and life). Be the one who does not collapse in the face of their partner's attacks; see through their words and actions and look for the real issue. Your partner won’t want to open up if you’re wearing your armor and holding your weapons in your hands. You must surrender to the moment by seeking the bigger picture.
Why is my partner so angry? What are they angry about? How have I unknowingly contributed to triggering them? What can I do to soften and open so that my partner can do the same?
This is the moment when you are being asked to stretch yourself. To let down your guard and dive into the unknown. To let go of that old pattern of how the two of you interact and open yourself to the possibility of what could happen next. You can choose to return to the old pattern the two of you have, or move into a new land of possibility.
Change is a choice. You can be the change and stretch yourself to grow out of this rut, or keep doing more of the same and dig yourself in deeper. The rut is an opportunity for the two of you to grow into a better version of what you have been. You will become more skilled at being in relationships, more courageous, and clearer in your needs and desires. Growth will increase your capacity, strength, and adaptability to life’s demands and allow you and your relationship to flow through change with greater ease.
It’s time to be responsible for your part in the relationship, and to the partner you have chosen.