Stop your relationship rut in its tracks! Part II

You might be in a relationship rut if…

How would you finish that sentence? You will notice a theme in today’s article – the way to bust a rut is with intentionality. I hope for your sake that these don’t resonate, but if they do, take heed and do some serious reflection. Then act on it, friend!

RUT #1: Your sex life has dwindled

Scenario: It’s a cliché that when you first started doing the deed together, you couldn’t stop partaking in sexae time or keep your hands off each other. Movies and television shows illustrate the extremes: Either the couple is constantly having sex or it’s treated as a joke that they rarely do. Maybe you and your honey started off hot and heavy or maybe you’ve always been lukewarm, but the bottom line is this – Your sex life is almost nonexistent now. 

Effect: Danger! Danger! This can only go on for so long until you will feel like just co-parents or roommates. It makes me sad to type that. 

FIX IT! – I know I’m dating myself here, but do you remember the “Roseanne” episode when Dan and Roseanne scheduled sex for every Wednesday? The idea of “scheduling” sex likely evokes a variety of responses. Some might look at it with disdain, while it might make sense to others. I can see how some might look at the idea with derision; after all, spontaneity is crucial for many to have orgasms. This is because the routine (especially when it comes to sex) dulls excitement. So, some might feel that scheduling sex negates spontaneity and defeats the purpose of engaging in relations. 

This reminds me, though, of the argument: “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?” Relating to sex, do you want to rarely have sex because you refuse to schedule it or have sex and be happy? I’m not saying you absolutely must commit to scheduling sex; rather, the thought process I’m on board with is intentionality.

Whether you pencil a weekly date on your calendar, commit to a certain quantity per week or month, or start sending flirty text messages in the A.M. to get the ball rolling, the important part of these equations is intentionality. It’s much easier to veg out on the couch, watch Netflix, and eat pizza when you are depleted at the end of the night. I get it. 

But, if you BOTH don’t start making an effort, like I said, then outlook not so good. This will eventually lead to a crack in the relationship. Physical intimacy is something you share with only this one person, so if it’s not happening, then there is a gap in the relationship. That gap will continue to widen, but it happens so slowly that you might not even realize it’s happening.

If you are in this rut, I’m not saying all this to scare you, but be aware of the potential consequences and seek intentionality to 1. enjoy your partner and 2. increase the likelihood of you staying together. 

RUT #2: You don’t remember the last time you laughed together.

Scenario: You find yourselves talking about the kids’ schedules, plans for the weekend, or who is going to buy your mother-in-law’s birthday present instead of having casual time together. Maybe you have fun at the dinner table when the family is present, but when was the last time you and your partner laughed together, just the two of you, at one another’s jokes?

Effect: If all you talk about together is the bills, logistics, and groceries, then all you will talk about is the bills, logistics, and groceries. Eventually, this will lead to the feeling of only being co-parents, and not only is that not fun, but it’s also not the purpose of being in a relationship in the first place. You want to enjoy each other’s company, you want to make each other laugh, and you want to help make each other happy, right? 

Look, I get it – We are responsible for 87,000 things a day and adding one more thing to be intentional about might drive you to drink…or scarf down six Panera Kitchen Sink cookies (just me?). But, if we don’t make an effort with our partner, then what are we even doing here? What’s the point? This is the person who is supposed to be your icing on the cake, the person you immediately think to tell when something funny or gossip-worthy happens at work, and the person who holds your hand  in movies or when you cry.

Hey, I know life is rushed and we are all stretched thin, but we can’t take this unique relationship for granted. Your partner is the ONLY one in your life who you are intimate with, the only one who tolerates your feet being so dry that they might light the bedsheets on fire (again, just me?), and the only one who ignores your bed head.

If we don’t nurture this relationship, then it could end. Dramatic much? Nope. #truth

FIX IT! – Again with the intentionality! A few quick ideas:

  1. Schedule regular date nights! STAT! Make it a rule to not discuss your kids throughout dinner.
  2. Make a competition out of who can crack the worse jokes – This will inevitably lead to you laughing together (and perhaps a groan or two).
  3. Hello, watch a comedy show on Netflix or go see live comedy!
  4. As you continue a make-out sesh from number 1, tickle each other. 
  5. Reflect on what makes your partner laugh and the last time that occurred when YOU made him/her laugh and then act on it. 

RUT #3: One of you is on a personal growth journey

Scenario: Your heart is on fire with goals, inspiration, and new challenges. But your partner’s isn’t. 

Effect: You train for the 5k, study for the new college class you enrolled in, or write your book in solitude. You might share your joy with your partner, tell him or her about new ideas you have, or ask them for feedback, and maybe they are receptive. It is possible for one person to begin a personal growth journey and the other partner joins them. 

In many cases, though, the other person might not react how you wish. Maybe they are insecure about their own stage in life, perhaps they are stagnant and your growth holds a mirror up to them, or maybe they are resentful of you prioritizing yourself. Maybe they are jealous, inconvenienced, or any combo of the aforementioned. 

If your partner is supportive or better yet, joins you in the journey, then obviously, that’s fantastic. If, though, he/she responds negatively, then that doesn’t bode well for the relationship. There’s no way around it: Toxicity will affect the relationship.

FIX IT! – This is a super tough situation and is the exact reason why many give up on their newfound dreams. I don’t have a perfect answer for you. I can only share ideas that I’ve heard and encourage you to attend couples counseling (If this is becoming a real issue and your partner refuses to see a therapist, then go alone.)

At the RISE Dallas conference last July, Dave Hollis shared insight into this topic from his experience with wife Rachel. In their marriage, she was the one on a personal growth journey, and he fought it every step of the way. It took him two years to choose growth for himself, too, because it was significantly, negatively affecting their marriage. He told the audience of 7,500 that there will always be people who don’t support your new goals. You must ask yourself, though, are you willing to sacrifice your happiness so that your partner can still feel comfortable?

I’m shaking my head as I type this because I know this is not an easy situation. Our biggest relationship outside of our children is with our partner, and it is extremely frightening to consider how to handle it if he/she isn’t supportive or worse, is sabotaging you. Where do you go from there?

Well, friend, once you’ve started your personal growth journey, you’ve opened Pandora’s box. Your heart is already on fire for whatever new challenge you’re embarking on, and it’s too late to close the box. At this point, you can’t stifle your happiness.

Dave and Rachel often say you must lead by example. They remind me of the Gandhi quote, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Do you, friend, and hopefully your partner will follow. 

Comment below or email me if one of these ruts resonates with you. Or, do you have advice for others experiencng them? Share!

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