How to Fix Relationship Ruts Part I

You might be in a relationship rut if…

How would you finish that sentence? 

Naturally, the answer will be based on your own experiences, your childhood (don’t worry, this won’t be a therapy session), and societal messages. Today’s article…

RUT #1: You only peck each other on the lips

Scenario: You probably already know what I’m going to say. Back in your courting days (How old do I sound right now?!), you probably made out for hours, dry humped ‘til your heart was content, and maybe even talked dirty over the phone. And then time past. Maybe you got married and the make out sessions dwindled to kissing only during foreplay…which turned into sex without kissing…which turned into not kissing when you say hello…which turned into peck-land.

You know what I’m talking about – you now peck each other on the lips, or even worse, the side cheek kiss. WHAT. THE. ACTUAL. HELL. HAPPENED. HERE. And why is it so predictable?

Effect: Well, unless you are super intentional, this is kind of a normal path for relationships. Hear me out. Notice I said without being intentional. The reality is that life sets in and we get used to each other. Think about when you start a new project, contemplate a new hairstyle, or plan a vacay to a new destination. You think about it nonstop, get excited, and plan out flowcharts in your head with all the options (just me?). 

But when you’ve conquered the project, your roots grow out, or the vacay is over, regular life settles in. Relationships are similar in that the newness is what drives much of the hot sexay time at the beginning. Over time, this can lead to pecking on the cheek. Boo, hiss!

This will not get better unless you intentionally change it. Eventually, you will stop the side peck, not touch each other at all any time you pass one another in a room, and/or drop the sweet pet names you created for one another. It used to be “first comes love, then comes marriage…” but now you are looking at then comes roommates. Yep, that’s the next step. Outlook not so good, right? I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer, but again, if you don’t intentionally get things under control, then roommate-ville is an eventuality. 

FIX IT! – When you hear that you will have to devote time to this, you might be thinking, Ugh, one more thing on the to-do list or I don’t have TIME for this, but WARNING! WARNING! That’s the kind of thinking that got you into this situation. Get ready for a sweeping generalization: Part of the problem is that men and women get aroused very differently. Women need more foreplay, which includes heavy kissing (again, generalization, but sometimes stereotypes are true). 

In effect, then, it might come down to you be the intentional one. Stop the wining! Do you want to be right and equal or happy and horny? Exactly. You must get your partner on board with a make-out sesh. Even if he or she isn’t into it right away, they will likely be persuaded if it leads to more. Bottom line: It’s worth the effort. 

RUT #2: You “divide and conquer”

Shout out to….I recently heard about the “divide and conquer” factor on Rachel Ballard’s “How to Like Your Husband” podcast (check it out; it’s insightful and entertaining).

Scenario: I’m sure as soon as I describe this, you will be nodding your head because we’ve all been there. How many weekends have you spent with your partner “dividing and conquering” the to-do list? As in, your husband takes your son to soccer practice and then brunch while you take your daughter for a Target run (hello, you got the better deal there) so that you can knock out errands and meet back at home? 

Effect: You might be asking, what’s wrong with this? On the surface, nothing, but…If you “divide and conquer” on a regular basis, you are, in effect, not spending your free time with your partner. If you work during the week, the weeknights are likely spent making dinner, helping kids with homework, rotating bath and showers, making lunches for the next day, tucking kids in bed, yada, yada, yada. You get the idea. Before you know it, you and your partner are passed out on the couch, sleeping while Netflix plays in the background. Sound familiar? 

The weeknight rush and “divide and conquer” routine on the weekend add up to a whole lot of time without your partner. In Ballard’s interview with Boss Mom Founder Dana Malstaff, the latter says to consider “divide and conquer” a red flag. If the practice is implemented with frequency, I totally agree.

FIX IT! – Dividing and conquering is occasionally okay and sometimes necessary, but if it can be spared, try to run errands together as a family. Or, see if you can get a babysitter for a few hours on a Saturday while you hop around with your partner. Errands are inherently more stressful with children tagging along anyway (think: Moooooooom, can I get this cereal? Why not???? Mom, can I get this book? Why not? Moooooooooom, can we look at the toys? – You get the idea.). 

It might not sound super fun to run errands alone with your partner, but this will give you an opportunity to spend time together, laugh, and maybe even do brunch as a couple. When in doubt, use “divide and conquer” as little as possible.

RUT #3: You don’t know what to talk about besides your kids

Scenario: You finally hired said babysitter for date night or splurged on an overnight trip to celebrate your ten-year anniversary, only to discover during the road trip that, wait for it….you have nothing to talk about. Oh, sure, you fill up the air with kid talk, but come up empty for other topics. Maybe you grasp at straws and then give up. 

When did this happen? Like everything else, without intentionality, it slowly happens over time. 

Effect: This can spell disaster for a relationship. Look, I get it – Your partner is the only person in the world who understands the preciousness of your daughter’s smile when she responds to “say cheese” or your son’s excitement when he scored in flag football during PE at school. We love our children and share them with our partner, so, naturally, we want to relate kid stories to one another. 

The problem is that if this is the MAJORITY of your conversations throughout the years, then what will you do when the kids leave the nest? Eventually, it will be just the two of you, and if you don’t cultivate and enjoy one another as a couple without your babies, then that could be a red flag for the future. Twenty years later you don’t want to be sitting side by side on the couch, still with nothing to say. 

FIX IT! – Fixing this is a mutual responsibility. To have something meaningful to contribute to the conversation, you must DO something meaningful. That means you must pursue hobbies, projects, or goals that have nothing to do with your partner. This is important for two reasons: You will be excited and feel good about yourself AND you will have new topics to share. You must have experiences on your own so that when you come back to each other, you can add to the conversation. 

If you don’t develop yourself, then, naturally, there is little for you to add. Harsh, but true. Same thing goes for your partner. If you don’t grow and have new adventures, you create a situation in which you only have the routine to discuss. Make sense? Fix you, and it will help fix the conversation problem.

Deep thoughts for the month of love, right? We will continue our relationship series next week when we discuss “How to Fix Relationship Ruts, Part II.”

Tell me, which rut resonated with you the most? Has one of these kept your relationship in limbo for a long time? Or, did you experience a rut and fix it? Share your stories below or feel free to email me! I want to hear about you!

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