You want more excitement, fun, and closeness in your relationship? Join the circus!! Just kidding.....sort of. Many couples who have been together for more than a few years start to complain that their marriage is, well, a little boring. "Stagnant", "blah", "like we're in the movie Groundhog's Day" are other ways I've heard this eh-ness described. It's something that's inevitable in long-term relationships but it's what you do about it that can make or break relationships over time. And, trust me, whining at your partner, "I'm borrrrrrrrred," doesn't work so well. I may be speaking from personal, Eeyore-like experience here.
In marriages there are many mutually exclusive experiences (things you may only do with your spouse) between partners that are highly stressful. Child-rearing, dealing with finances, maintaining a sex life and/or drive, moving, career decision-making or changing are just a few of the hugely draining tasks you may share with your spouse and no one else on the planet! Your best friendship doesn't have to bear the weight of these burdens.
Research has found when a couple has young children it is statistically the least satisfying time in the relationship. Also, the 7th year marks the highest rate of divorce. Many theorize that after a couple raises 1-2 children out of infancy and toddlerhood and into early childhood they realize they don't want to be together, or they haven't had children at all and decide it's time to look for another potential mate. Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt divorced in their 7th year of marriage.
SO....what do we do about all these highly stressful mutually exclusive experiences (MEEs)? Consciously balance them. [...]
Many couples who I work with premaritally, or before they have children, cringe when I mention the statistic about the LOWEST period of satisfaction being when couples have young children. But knowing this information means this period can be planned for. If you've ever been on a date with your spouse and ONLY talked about the kids you know how these highly stressful MEEs can interfere with or ruin even the best intended alone time. And then you feel like you've wasted babysitter money and are less likely to plan date time in the future. It doesn't feel worth it.
I encourage couples to consciously create, and plan for, MEEs that take them out of their blah zone. Here are the rules. Choose something to do on date night (or morning, or afternoon) that neither person has tried or has experience with. This could be as simple as new cuisine or as outrageous as a trapeze class. The pic above is from a trapeze school in St. Louis that offers FREE introductory classes (click the pic to take you to their website). You WON'T be doing the move pictured above, but it's definitely not the same ole, same ole.
STOP ROLLING YOUR EYES. Try it. Take turns choosing the activity. You don't have to both LOVE the new experience to have been successful: that's not the goal. I've had couples try things they both realized they hated and, guess what?, they had so much fun talking and laughing about how much they hated the Opera and telling their friends in unison how "AWFUL" it was. Bam! A successful light-stress MEE to add to the list to balance out all those hugely stressful ones.
What are some of your ideas for MEEs?? Yoga? Trampoline class? New exercise class? Ethiopian food? Painting class?
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