Is your marriage feeling stale? Have you lost the spark? Are you often at a loss of what to say to your spouse? Do his/her little annoying habits make you miserable?
Believe it or not, this is perfectly normal in marriages. We may not like it, it may feel uncomfortable, but just about everyone goes through it. Why?
Unfortunately, we often ignore the familiar. We may spend a lot of energy and use much creativity at the job, pay attention to how we sound and what we say to friends and co-workers, act delighted to see a neighbor or the mail person, and then come home and virtually ignore our spouse. It’s certainly understandable. At the end of the day we’re tired, cranky, hungry. It feels like “work” to put a smile on your face and sit and listen intently to someone else’s day. The last thing in the world you want to do is have to be “on” at home. I bet if you were having dinner with a friend you’d do it.
I know you’ve heard it before, but, here it is again. Marriage takes work. But this work can be lots of fun. So here’s your homework to get that spark back and reignite the flame.
Remember the things you did when you and your spouse were dating? Make dates with him/her and do some of those things again.
Tell him/her that they look sexy, pretty, handsome.
Do you remember how to flirt? Try it on your spouse.
Write a love note or x-rated note and slip it into their pocket or purse.
Buy them something small and cute.
You know those movies that make you think, “why doesn’t he/she do those things?” You do them. You be the initiator.
When out with your spouse, try asking questions about them and then really listen to the answer. Reserve talking about the kids for when you’re at home. A date should be a date.
Tell them why you fell in love with them.
When I’m working with a couple in couples therapy, I look at both spouses and say, “you do these things first”. In other words, don’t wait for your spouse to initiate the above. If you both start there won’t be any resentment.
Your life is not where you’d like or had hoped it to be. You feel trapped and unable to make changes in either your personal or professional life, or even in both. It’s very frustrating to feel stuck in something when you’d really like to be doing something else or would really like to be with someone else. But are you really stuck or trapped?
Do you feel trapped because change seems too difficult? Maybe you stay in your job because looking for a job in this economy seems too hard or because finding a new job seems impossible. So you spend your energy feeling sad, bored, unfulfilled instead of looking to make a change. Ask yourself what you have to lose by looking? You may be surprised at the answer.
Sometimes we stay in one place even when we think we’d like to be someplace else as a way of avoiding the problem. For instance, does your marriage feel stale, unfulfilling? Perhaps you daydream about leaving the marriage and finding someone more exciting. Is it possible that your daydreams are keeping you rooted in the problems rather than using the energy to work on the marriage? Maybe you and your spouse need to begin to talk about the problems or see a marriage counselor.
Some people feel trapped because they feel locked into something due to commitments they have made. For instance, staying in a job because the income is one you’ve become dependent on due to a high mortgage or children about to go to college. In this case staying put may actually help you to feel better in the long run.
So look at why you feel trapped and ask yourself what you may be avoiding, afraid of, or waiting for. This may help you get unstuck or help you to feel better about the decision to stay put.
Linda Walter, LCSW NY and Westchester Psychotherapist