Boring marriages are everywhere. The couples look past each other. And sit silently in restaurants, checking their phones. When you get to know them, they lack an appreciation of each other. And they have a tendency to focus on maintaining the status quo. They are no longer lovers, but roommates, because they’ve given up on intimacy with each other. Instead they share surface level facts and emotions. They build their little silos of interests and pour themselves into them. It might be the kids or work or church or friendships or extended family or hobbies. The key indicator is that it doesn’t include their spouse in some way. And it’s ironic because the person who once made their heart dance and consumed their thoughts has become so uninteresting.
I think we all know this is concerning, right? It’s fine to get bored with some things (work, a book, a hobby) but boredom in marriage isn’t the sort of thing you just ignore. It’s something to sit up and ask why.
So let’s consider humans and our tendency toward boredom. It’s an interesting question that I’ve wondered about and it goes like this. Why are we so easily bored?
I have a guess that it is related to our strong sense of selfishness. The ongoing selfishness that makes us the center of all that is important. That reduces other people to being satellites, orbiting around our needs. These others are less interesting than our interests and certainly less valuable than us. So we devalue them and set them aside.
But interestingly God is not like us, even though we were made in His image.
When I read the Bible, I never see God, the Father (or Jesus), being bored. There are no indications that they are ever bored with people. In fact, Jesus seems to find the most overlooked people worthy of special attention. And he’s never too busy to stop and ask a question or respond to a cry. So what’s up with that? Doesn’t it seem odd that we get bored with people but Jesus seemed to find everyone interesting? Think I’m overdoing it?
Then watch this one example of how he was always seen proactively seeking out and pursuing people.
Why doesn’t God get Bored with You and I?
This is another question I’ve often asked. I know I am often boring and lazy and petty and self-focused. . But God doesn’t write me off. Nor does He write off you or your spouse. So here is a guess.
My best guess is that it is because we don’t see people like God sees them. We might see superficial things while God sees a person’s every gift, talent, emotion and thought. He sees how marvelously made they are. How perfectly he made them. Plus, he knows their future and their eternal value to Him. He knows how uniquely he created them. And how sin and hardship has affected them. But sadly we miss that. We see them in the context of “What have you done for me lately?”. God doesn’t. He sees them as His beloved.
The result is that God is much more interested in us than we are in Him. And he thinks a relationship with us is worth a lot. So worthwhile that he sent his Son to show us. But we can miss that God is pursuing us. And when we do, we miss something powerful in our own lives. We miss how loved we are. How divinely unique we are. How much God wants to be with us and relate to us and live with us. How powerful He wants to be in us and how purposeful He planned our lives to be. And with our spouse.
All of this makes me really glad that God is not bored with people! And that he created marriage to be a good thing, not a boring thing.
Why does Marriage become Boring?
So if we are in a boring marriage, what changed? Certainly God didn’t design and institute marriage to be a forced relationship of boredom! And you didn’t marry your spouse so you could work toward increasing boredom together. So what is happening in this important relationship? Here’s are some things I’ve noticed.
Often we are bored because we are always attracted to other shiny objects. Like a cat chasing a red laser dot, we are looking for something to pursue. That means that once we have “caught” our spouse we are on to the next pursuit (job, career, more money, more stuff, hobbies). This pursing shiny things happens a lot. And the red dot has many names. To be honest, that sounds a lot like me, at times. We both refocus our attention to other things and downgrade our spouse’s value to us. That’s not very sensible. And of all the relationships I have, the one I have with my spouse is the one that holds the greatest blessing, in store.
Another reason might be this. I’m reminded of the saying “You are only bored when you are boring.” And I think there’s some truth there. When we stop investing in ourselves and our relationship with our spouse then we find ourselves in a boring marriage. But our lack of effort indicates we could be the cause, because we are coasting and being boring toward each other. That’s avoiding the power of leadership in marriage. We take a go-with-the-flow attitude about the relationship and we get nothing to show from it.
Often we think, “it’s not my job” or “it will take care of itself” and we don’t step up. I’ve struggled with that. My wife made clear early in our marriage, that it was my responsibility to plan activities that focused on our relationship and gave us opportunities to talk about something meaningful. It meant that I had to plan weekends away, date nights, romantic evenings, special gifts, “good” surprises and ask good questions. I was told to lead by being intentional. That helped us a lot.
Take a look around, and when you see an non-boring marriage, you usually see that the couple is making an effort. You will see them ask more questions, plan more intentionally, be more curious and have a more focused interest on the relationship. Because they value the relationship more than other things, it naturally leads to intimacy.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that even those boring people you might encounter at a party or at work can become much more interesting with a little effort. I just need to take the time to interact with them and ask them good questions. Of course they might be interested in things I consider boring but at least I learn a lot about it!
Fighting Boredom in Marriage
I know this. At one time, your spouse was interesting to you or you wouldn’t be married today. Right?
But something changed. And if it is you and I, then what can we do to tackle the boredom we are facing? Here are my thoughts.
- Review the things that you are interested in right now. Are they competing with your interest in your spouse? Is it a new hobby? A new possession that takes up your time? Is someone flirting with you at work or the gym? Are you looking for appreciation or validation or attention from others? Often, we are looking for “escapes” in life where we pursue a fantasy of happiness that is never going to fulfill us.
- Tell your spouse, “I feel like our relationship is becoming boring.”. Discuss to determine if the boredom is coming from stress or busyness or fatigue or emotional swings. Often they can see things that you might not have noticed. Temporary “blahs” are normal but when they linger, it’s a sign that something is not going well inside of us.
- Ask God to examine your heart and reveal more. The Holy Spirit is really good at this. Then ask God to make you less boring and more willing to invest in your relationship with your spouse.
- Check to see if you are entertaining lies about your relationship. “We’ve known each other so long that there’s nothing we don’t know about each other.” That’s a common statement made by couples but it is rarely true. There is much we don’t know about each other but once we’ve quit trying it seems that way. And here’s a simple proof. God is so interested in your spouse, that He wants to spend eternity with them. So, why are bored with them?
- Are you constantly watching a screen of some type? Try putting the phones away one evening a week or at a certain time each day. Then fill the time with conversation that matters.
- Deepen your conversations by moving away from exchanging facts. Instead start expressing hopes, dreams, wishes, interests, insights and other personal expressions. Get a list of good questions and ask them regularly. Here’s some examples that I have used.
- What are your biggest challenges right now?
- What is one dream you’ve been thinking about?
- What concerns you the most these days?
- Where do you want our life together to be in 5 years?
- What has God been speaking to you about?
- What do we need to stop doing, start doing or keep doing for our relationship?
- What are we settling for in our life together and what could we do together about it?
- What brings you the most joy in a typical week?
Your marriage is your most important human relationship, so don’t let boredom take up residence there. Be alert. Step up and tackle the boredom that might be affecting your relationship.
As you take the initiative, God will work because He values your marriage relationship even more than you do.
Plus there are some good things about low-drama marriages.
And if you are wondering… Do I have a Boring Marriage? Here are some questions to ask yourself.
Let me know what you have found that has helped you conquer boredom in your marriage!
Thanks LouAnn and Rob for the insights shared in this weeks title ‘Boring Marriages’. We’ve all been there, are there, or on our way there. A little planning, concentration and energy goes a long way towards rising above the pit falls God would just as soon we avoid.