There is an inevitable “honeymoon” stage in every marriage: the time when you can’t imagine getting irritated by your spouse not replacing the toilet paper roll, where you overlook the crazy in-laws, and where marriage is smooth sailing. It may vary from couple to couple, but eventually we settle into the routines and demands of life. It can be hard to recognize at first, but every marriage will eventually come face-to-face with being in a rut.
The problem with getting into a rut in your marriage, like any other time in life, is that it often happens gradually and can be hard to see coming. There may be no major conflict or any red flags. You may not be arguing nonstop or feeling like your marriage is in crisis mode.Getting into a rut may look more like a gradual drifting apart. Anything from careers, to kids, to everyday demands of life can shift our focus from our spouse to other obligations. These demands are inevitable and not all bad, but in the midst of it all, something has to give. Oftentimes, this is when a marriage gets into a rut.
Though getting into a rut may happen gradually, it typically isn’t long before one or both spouses start to feel the effects. Resentment, rejection, and loneliness can start to creep in. And this can cause us to be quicker to judge, and slower to listen and understand.
If you’re feeling in a rut in your marriage, rest assured, you’re not alone! And the great news is that there is a way out of the rut and back into a thriving marriage.
Here are 5 ways to overcome a rut in your marriage.
1. Remember Your Commitment
Remember those wedding vows you spoke in front of your family, friends, and God? In good times and bad. The only difference is, you have yet to experience bad times in a marriage before you say those words. You believed those words then, and we bet you still believe them now, even if you’re in a rut.
Your vows are the most important and binding words you will ever speak. They carry that weight for a reason. Life has a way of disrupting those vows, but especially when it is hard, it is good to remember your commitment to each other. It’s inevitable that you will encounter drier seasons in your marriage, but it is not inevitable that you give up. Pushing through the bad times will bring you closer together, allow you to grow in empathy toward one another, and can help you avoid the same ruts over and over again.
2. Establish Non-Negotiable Healthy Patterns
One of the easiest ways to do this is to establish a date night. Make it an interruption-free time as much as you can. Be intentional in your conversation. Make eye contact. Mix it up. Have fun!
It doesn’t even necessarily have to be a date night (though it is highly recommended). You can eat breakfast together each morning, take an evening walk, meet for lunch, or anything that fits into your pattern of life. But the key is to make it non-negotiable! Likely a reason you got into a rut is that along the way, you compromised your priority to make time for each other. Establishing non-negotiable healthy patterns will eventually become habit and build a strong foundation for your marriage.
3. Encourage One Another
It can seem overstated that our words carry weight; even as the Bible states, they can be a matter of life and death (Proverbs 18:21). This is true in any relationship, but it is magnified in our marriages. If you have ever found yourself in a rut, with the accompanying feelings of resentment, rejection, and loneliness, it’s likely that the first words on the tip of your tongue are not bent towards encouragement or love. It’s important to realize that our feelings should never guide our words. Easier said than done, right?
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to abandon your current feelings for the betterment of your marriage. Setting your hurt and pride aside is never an easy task, but just as the risk and sacrifice can seem high, the reward is often much higher. Even if you feel wronged, you have a choice. A choice to encourage, build up, and invest, no matter how you feel. Speaking words of encouragement and love to your spouse can turn a situation around quicker than almost anything. We all want to feel loved, valued, and to have the security of knowing that even through tough times, we still wish to move forward. Overstated as it may seem, choose yours words wisely, especially when you’re in a rut.
4. Dream Again
One of the best ways to fight a rut is to dream again. Remember the times that you sat for hours dreaming of your future? Remember how that fueled passion, commitment, and enthusiasm for building something together? That doesn’t have to stop when the responsibilities pile up. In fact, it is more important than ever to keep dreaming, even though you can’t find your way out of a pile of laundry!
Dreaming with your spouse reminds you that you are on the same team. It injects hope into a future that may seem headed for status quo. It develops a sense of togetherness and can lead to finding purpose, regardless of the stage of life you are in. It takes your eyes off of the negative, and steers them towards something positive. Take some time to dream again. It just may be the spark you need to get out of that rut.
5, Go to Bed at the Same Time
Your schedules may take you all over the place during the day, and the evening is a race to get everybody fed, cleaned, to bed, and prepared for the next day. But at the end of even the longest days, your marriage has a sacred place in your bed. Going to bed together creates a sense of unity, allows for an unpacking of the day, a time to pray, and a greater chance of consistent intimacy and sex. It is a way to say that no matter what happens, we have a time at the end of the night to invest in our marriage. Make it a sacred space. No phones, no interruptions, no exceptions.
It can’t be said enough that every marriage will eventually hit a rut. But it isn’t the end. In fact, working through it can be a building block for a stronger marriage. The key is to recognize where you are, and to realize you are on the same team. Your spouse can both love you better and hurt you worse than any other person on the planet, but remember the sacredness of marriage. It may not always be easy, but it is always worth it!