Too often we get stuck in a routine that can lead to a relationship rut and we need some helpful ideas to boost our loving relationship. This can be especially prevalent in new Empty Nesters. We find ourselves asking: How do we make a relationship work now that our kids have left home?
We do the same things over and over. Routines can be comfortable; hell routines can save our sanity in a crazy world. Following routines can be helpful and time-saving.
Getting up in the morning, turning on the coffee maker, getting dressed, and brushing your teeth can all be routine. Routines allow our minds to focus on other things, like the coming work day, or bills that need to be paid.
These are good routines; they help us to do simple tasks without conscious thought of what needs to be done. What is not good, is a relationship stuck in a routine, we want to avoid a relationship rut.
The Other Side
Then there are the other habits that we unconsciously fall into. The ones that happen in our day to day lives that affect other people. Habits can be as simple as going into to work and not putting any passion into our jobs.
Work can be tedious, and if we are not careful, this lack of enthusiasm can lead to poor performance.
Can you imagine how your boss would react to you turning in the same work day after day? Here is the same report I turned into you yesterday and the same one I will submit tomorrow.
You probably would not keep your position for long if you continued to do this same thing day after day. Or maybe you work at a job where no one would notice, and you would get complimented on your stellar and consistent work performance.
It is hard to figure out what is going to please bosses, isn’t it?
What I know for sure is if you don’t try to avoid a relationship rut, your marriage can suffer.
While it may seem like doing the same thing every day would be awesome, after a while the lack of engagement with our brains would get tedious and boring.
Remember Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day? Living the same day of his life endlessly, never moving forward. He lived a never-ending procession of the same day happening over and over without knowing how to change his circumstances.
Thankfully we do not have to do this; we do have the power over our lives to change the things that we do not like. You do not have to do the same old thing day after day.
What is wrong with doing the same thing day after day if it keeps us happy and comfortable?
So what if we go to the same restaurant on the same day every week? What does it matter if we order the same thing off the menu? What is wrong with just being on autopilot?
Routines Become Routine
The problem for me is that one routine ends up leading to another routine and we keep adding up these routines until we no longer experience anything new. You need new experiences in life.
Routines can be an especially dangerous thing for new Empty Nesters. Having a child in the house, no matter how old, adds that extra bit of chaos into the household.
Whether that is your child listening to their music too loud while they are home. Or maybe it is going to their games or performances. Your children added an element of randomness into the house that is now missing.
Now that they are gone it is easy to fall into routines with your spouse. You and your spouse have been together for a long time; you know what the other person likes to eat and drink, the shows they are going to want to watch on tv. Odds are you know what kind of toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, and toilet paper they prefer to use.
Decades together can take the mystery out of a relationship. Longevity isn’t a bad thing; it is comforting having someone know us so well. But you don’t want your relationship to end up like your morning routine.
Running on autopilot while getting ready for work is one thing, you don’t want your marriage to be the same way.
Even small changes to a routine can have long-lasting impacts on a relationship.
6 Ideas to Avoid a Relationship Rut
#1 | Try a New Restaurant
Heather and I love Mexican food, and when you find a good place to eat you keep going back to that. Every week we go to the same Mexican food restaurant and invariably we order the same thing each time.
If I get there first, I know what to order for her, and if she gets there first, she orders for me. Comfortable? Absolutely. A routine? Damn straight! Maybe you have found yourself in this relationship rut.
Do I suggest change this routine? Nope. But I would recommend you modify it a little. Instead of going to the same place to eat each week, one week a month try a new place to eat together.
Doing this still gives you time to spend together but adds a little unknown into the evening. Who knows you might find a new favorite place or at least come away with a funny story about the blue haired waitress that told you too much about her life.
#2 | Travel a Little
I’m always hearing people talk about traveling the world; how they want to visit some obscure corner of the world to see the worlds smallest/biggest/quietest whatever. And this is an excellent goal, but traveling far away takes a lot of time and even more money.
What we often miss is exploring the places closest to us. The odds are that you haven’t experienced all there is in the locations closest to you.
So travel a little, take small day trips to exciting or unusual places close to where you live. It doesn’t have to be a grand or expensive trip, just a quick trip to give you and your spouse time to spend together doing something new while saving you money.
#3 | Take a Class Together
The saying goes that knowledge is power; What better way to gain more knowledge and empower your marriage than by taking a class together. This can be anything from a few hour class offered by a local business on gardening or landscaping.
Or taking a course together at your local community college. Learning a new skill together can be a rewarding experience plus you get to be that cute couple in class that everyone wants to end up like.
#4 | You Feeling Lucky?
You know the Google “I’m feeling lucky” button? You type your search query into Google and hit the I’m feeling lucky button, and it takes you to the most relevant site according to Google. Try creating your own I’m feeling lucky day.
You and your spouse can write down activities you would like to do such as take a hike, or see a movie, eat at a particular restaurant, plant a tree in the forest, or volunteer at your favorite charity for the afternoon.
Write down activities that suit you and your spouse and put them into a “Lucky Jar,” when you have a weekend that you have no plans ask your spouse are you feeling lucky? One of you pulls out an idea from the jar, and that is what you do for the day.
A guaranteed way to break up a routine!
#5 | This is Our Fort
Finally peace and quiet. You are alone, the kids are all gone, and it is time to relax — no more games to go to, or strange teenagers to deal with. A complete absence of stomping feet and noisy teenagers coming and going at all hours of the day and night.
It is probably going to feel like the silence is just what you’ve wanted for years. So you lock the doors pull the blinds and pretend like no one is home. This is now Fort Isolation, and it has a population of two (and a dog; you have to have the dog).
This is all well and good, enjoy this silence for a little while and then get the hell out of the house. Unless of course, you don’t want to avoid a relationship rut.
Locking yourself away from the world is not going to help you avoid routines. Bolting the doors and pretending the world doesn’t exist is an excellent way to end up with corridors of junk stacked up around your house and a plethora of cats underfoot.
Because when you lose your mind, there are always cats involved, no exceptions, cats go with crazy. And not just one or two cats lots of cats, don’t be the cat person.
When your child moved out, you probably lost the most social interaction you have besides work. They brought in people you didn’t know; they brought new music and ideas into the house.
This is now absent from your life, we do have the people we work with, but let’s be honest here we have to get paid to spend time with those people.
#6 | Find Your Support
Find some acquaintances, friends or family to spend some time with.
Go out and listen to Bob, who is an expert in 12th-century depressing poetry, recite the tale of a transvestite knight of the roundtable. Don’t judge Bob he had a lonely childhood.
The point is we need outside influences to keep ourselves from becoming stagnant in our lives.
That person across from you, the one you’ve spent the last 25 to 30 years with? They need you, and you need them to continue to be in the game for another 25 to 30 years.
Don’t let the passage of time be just that, the passing of time. Do whatever you have to to make the rest of your lives be like the first part of your life. A wild and unexpected ride that scared the hell out of you but left you with a smile on your face.
Do you have ideas that have helped you avoid a relationship rut? We are always looking for new tips! Post them in the comments below.