Friday, April 8, 2016

Help for a Dull Marriage

Q. My marriage is rather dull. We care about each other but we never talk about how we feel. We also never disagree. We talk about the kids, the weather, and our jobs. I hate to say it but I'm sometimes bored when we're together. Though this isn't a big problem I'd like to know how to change things.

A. All of us long for authentic relationships in which we can be open, honest and even vulnerable. We want to share our true self with the person we love the most. We want true intimacy, but we don’t know how to achieve it. 

Often marriages reach a “ho-hum stage” after the initial idealistic "honeymoon stage.” This happens because we’re afraid to be honest. We try to avoid conflict. We want to keep the peace and please our partner. This avoidance leads to a pattern of denial, rationalization and suppression of our true feelings. It also leads to a dull, boring inauthentic relationship. We also may take each other for granted and stop showing as much love and affection as we did in the past.
God designed us to want open, honest, authentic relationships. We choose peace-keeping over truth-telling and taking-for-granted over showing love, so we end up in shallow or inauthentic relationships. Misunderstandings, hurt feelings, frustrations and doubts are never shared or resolved. Our marriage deteriorates under the weight of these hidden issues. We become detached, distrustful, and cut off.
The only way out of this inauthentic pattern is to take risks and be real. We must enter the area of our painful, secret feelings and share these. We must take the risk to tell the truth and to hear the truth. This is not an easy task for any of us.

If you are taking each other for granted and not showing much affection you may want to change this first. This can be done even in non verbal ways. Here are some ways to do this.       
•Let your eyes light up when you see each other.
•Look into your partner’s eyes.
•Listen, really listen.
•Acknowledge feelings. “That must really hurt.”
•Hold hands.
•Give hugs and say “I love you.”
•Give compliments. “You look nice today.”
•Give appreciation. “Thanks for taking out the trash.”
•Smile and enjoy each other.

As for being open and honest in sharing hurts or differences plan with your husband to meet together for an hour a week. Set aside a specific time. Each week talk about how the week has been. Tell each other thoughts you haven’t shared about mundane details of your life or about things that troubled you that week. Since you are both fight avoiders even when sharing something you disagree about you will do so peacefully.   Be open to hearing what your partner tells you. Be slow to react and don’t rush to deny, rationalize or disagree.

A weekly meeting gives a format for talking over large and small issues. Keep a list of what was talked about and go over these the next time.

One of the most helpful things a couple can do to deepen their relationship is to pray together every day. Praying together bonds us with each other and with God. A prayerful connection opens our hearts to Him and to each other in a new and almost magical way. If you’ve never prayed together begin with sentence prayers and progress to a time of prayer together when both of you pray. Some couples start their day with prayer and some end their day this way. Do what works for you but take risks and gain the rewards of knowing God and each other better. Praying together is an intimate, authentic experience. It heals and grows us. When we mover closer to God we also move closer to each other. 
“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:10 NLT

Blessings, Dottie

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