There are four seasons in a relationship and the first is always summer. The beginning of a relationship is usually characterized by excitement and exhilaration. This is the season where couples are enamored with each other and oftentimes inseparable. There is what most people describe as a “spark” — there’s warmth, joy, fun, and spontaneity in the relationship. There are date nights, quality time, vacations, and relentless effort to please one another. There is also unconditional acceptance, where couples tend to embrace all aspects of each other, both the good and bad, and in some cases even overlook their partner’s flaws. Many of the characteristics that initially attract a person to their partner oftentimes are the same traits they later despise. Conversely, some of the qualities that manifest later in the relationship as problematic were present initially but went unnoticed or sometimes disregarded.
Marital Boredom (MB) typically arises when the initial “spark” has decreased and the relationship begins to lack excitement, discovery, challenge, and growth. It is important to acknowledge that relationships occur in cycles or seasons, and some periods of “boredom” are normal. Some common reasons for marital boredom include:
Complacency. After a couple have been together for an extended period they often become too comfortable. It is always encouraged that couples feel comfortable with one another but sometimes they become complacent or lazy, taking one another for granted. Sometimes once a person communicates that they feel safe and secure in their relationship, the partner at least unconsciously feels their work is done and decreases their efforts. This can be a dangerous trap to fall into in a relationship as it may cause deeper issues when one partner feels unappreciated and taken for granted. Therefore, it is better to foster the habit of continually expressing love and gratitude for your partner.
Routine Daily Life. In adulthood, life becomes routine very quickly. It is easy to fall victim to engaging in the same activities every day, especially during the work/school week when life literally revolves around work/school because adults spend the majority of the week there. On an average weekday, one wakes up early for work, works most of the day, arrives home tired from work, then goes to bed to do it all over again. Life becomes mundane easily. While stability and dependability are necessary components to any relationship, it is essential to step out of the comfort zone periodically. Individuals and couples alike must be intentional about overcoming this by incorporating some novelty and excitement into an average day. For example, sometimes date night can be on an evening after work, not just the weekends. Oftentimes, routine can be overcome simply by reintroducing the element of surprise back into the relationship.
Quality Time. Spending time together in a relationship is necessary to form a bond and connection. A relationship can feel boring and unsatisfying when there’s too much quality time or not enough. When couples have not prioritized time in the relationship, one can feel lonely, rejected, and unloved. On the other hand, too much time together can also contribute to feelings of boredom and even worse, frustration. During the COVID-19 pandemic, divorce rates skyrocketed to an all-time high as couples were forced to spend excessive amounts of time together during quarantine. It is important to maintain a healthy balance between time together and apart to prevent boredom- as the saying goes, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Another consideration is when the family expands, it becomes more difficult to spend time alone because most activities tend to include the children or revolve around them. However, married couples should routinely prioritize time together without the kids.
Experiencing Disconnection. A variety of factors can contribute to a disconnection in the relationship. Feeling disconnected from your partner can be emotional or physical. In a healthy relationship, emotional connectedness should remain even after the butterflies have gone away. As time passes in the relationship, both partners must be deliberate about staying connected to each other by providing proper care and attention needed to maintain a healthy partnership. When feelings of disconnection are physical in nature, have a discussion with your partner about how to restore physical and/or sexual intimacy in the relationship.
Lack of Connection with Self. A relationship can become boring when there is little opportunity to connect with yourself, express your individuality, or explore your own interests. Remember, you fell in love with an interesting individual. When it is expected to immerse yourself in your partner or the relationship, things can become boring and disconcerting. Ensure your partner has room in the relationship for self-discovery, self-exploration, and the ability to maintain a self of sense; support and encourage them to do so and model by maintaining your own self-connectedness in relationship. By doing so, couples can create an environment where they are able to grow together instead of apart.
Marital Boredom should be addressed in the relationship when it continues to persist past a point that is reasonable or seasonal. That is, boredom will occur, but it should come and go and not be persistent. Keep an open line of communication with your partner about your feelings and needs. Also, be willing to make personal adjustments that will assist with the change you’re looking for within the marriage. If marital boredom persists and you or your partner are dissatisfied with the relationship, marriage therapy can often help you rekindle an old spark, or even create a new spark!