At the beginning of a marriage, everything feels new and exciting. You’ve got romantic date nights planned weeks in advance, and what may become future annoyances are just endearing little quirks that make you love your spouse even more. But unfortunately, that honeymoon stage won’t last forever. Eventually, things are going to simmer down, and you might even find yourself feeling, well, bored.
Luckily, that feeling doesn’t mean your marriage is doomed. All it means is that you might need to devote a bit more time and energy into making things exciting again. Read on to discover why you might be feeling bored in your marriage, along with expert-backed tips for how to get things back on track.
You’ve stopped asking your partner questions.
As time goes by, you might feel like you know everything there is to know about your partner. But they’ve still got more layers, we promise! “I can guarantee that you probably think differently than the way you did four or five years ago,” says relationship expert Dr. Patrick Wanis, PhD. The same thing goes for your partner, which means you should never stop asking them questions and getting to know them.
Your relationship has changed—but your expectations haven’t.
When you begin a relationship, you have a number of expectations, whether it’s about how exciting things should be, how available your partner should be, or how comfortable they should make you feel. But as the relationship goes on and circumstances change, you need to adjust your expectations as well.
“It’s not so much that people change but the circumstances of the relationship change and then we change in response to that,” says Wanis. “You need to ask yourself what you’re expecting from the relationship and what you’re expecting from each other. Is that expectation fair and reasonable or are you expecting something that your partner can no longer fulfill?” For example, if your partner used to make dinner every night, but recently got a promotion and has to put in more hours at the office, that expectation may no longer be reasonable.
You don’t surprise each other.
It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, but finding ways to surprise your spouse, whether with a gift or a thoughtful act, can keep your marriage feeling fresh, staving off those feelings of boredom. “What do you need to feel loved? What does your partner need to feel loved?” asks Wanis. “Look for ways to surprise your partner, but surprise them based on their personality style.” And here’s what we mean by that…
You don’t know each other’s love languages.
There are five love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. Each person has two primary love languages that describe how they feel loved the most. “The best way to treat someone isn’t to treat them the way that you want to be treated, it’s to treat someone the way that they want and need to be treated,” says Wanis.
Interactions with your partner will be a lot more engaging and fun when you are able to fully understand how you each receive love. For help with where to start, take the Five Love Languages Quiz and have your partner take it, too.
You’re not bonding with food.
Food is one of the easiest ways to bond with your partner. Wanis says that he even considers it to be the sixth love language. “Whether you’re cooking together, whether you’re cooking for each other, whether you’re serving each other, or whether you’re going out to try out new restaurants, food can be another great way to experience and express love,” he notes.
You equate romance with spontaneity.
Sure, everyone loves to be swept off their feet by huge romantic gestures. But don’t think the only way your relationship will feel exciting is if you’re acting on a whim like the couples in your favorite romantic comedy. That’s just not realistic most of the time.
“In today’s lifestyle, we have so many requests for our time, we must set aside time for our partner and our relationship,” says Wanis. “You can plan a vacation together, then when you’re there, you can engage in certain spontaneous activities.”
You’ve fallen into a daily routine.
Having a hum-drum daily routine can make any relationship feel boring. Try new restaurants, new hobbies, and new places to visit. If you enjoy it, perfect! If not, laugh about it and vow never to do it again. Either way, getting out of your comfort zone ensures you won’t be bored. Plus, “it’s been proven that those who do new things together build ‘the cuddle hormone’ (oxytocin) and feel closer for longer,” says California-based psychotherapist Dr. Barton Goldsmith, PhD.
You’re not setting goals for your relationship.
When you get into a relationship, most couples establish goals together. But as time goes on and you reach those goals, it’s pivotal to establish new ones to strive for. If not, you’re bound to feel unenthused about the future.
Continuing to encourage and support each other in reaching your goals—whether solo or as a couple—ultimately increases the love you have for each other. As Goldsmith says, “Happiness comes from moving toward what you want, not necessarily getting it.”
You’re not sharing enough of your life with your partner.
If you’re noticing that you feel a bit bored in your marriage, simply try sharing more. In order to bond with your partner, you must be willing to open up and be vulnerable. And doing so can come in many different forms. “Sharing can be sharing the exchange of information, of emotions. It can be the sharing of experiences,” says Wanis.
Need a place to start? Try discussing some of your favorite shared experiences. Not only will doing so remind you of great times, but it’ll also open you up and give you more ideas for your next adventure!
Or you’re basically joined at the hip.
On the other side of that coin, don’t be afraid to be your own person. Couples who spend too much time together can easily start to feel bored, or even worse, frustrated. Try finding new hobbies of your own and experiencing things away from your spouse sometimes. It’ll only give you more to share with them and make it more exciting when you reunite.
Your brain craves novelty.
Accepting the fact that things will feel boring sometimes is an important step in fixing the problem. After all, as Stanford University neuroscientist Russell Poldrack noted in an article for HuffPost, “novelty causes a number of brain systems to become activated, and foremost among these is the dopamine system.” And, as you may recall, dopamine is that feel-good hormone we’re all after.
But being able to recognize your biological need for novelty and responding accordingly will ensure you and your partner don’t suffer. “Every now and then, you need to think about the relationship—what’s going on and what needs to happen so you can make it more interesting and exciting?” notes Irina Firstein, LCSW, a couples therapist in New York City.
You’re taking each other for granted.
Firstein says that once you start feeling safe and secure in your relationship, that’s when you get lazy, complacent, and yes, bored. “You kind of stop making any kind of efforts, both physically and otherwise,” she says. “And we don’t feel like we need to try the way that we try in the beginning.”
Of course, after years of building a relationship with someone, it can be easy to think of what they do for you and your family as a normal part of life. But it’s important that you don’t take your partner for granted and that you constantly express gratitude for who they are and the impact they have on your life and happiness. You’ll be surprised how much zest that can bring back into your marriage.
Your sex life is unfulfilling or nonexistent.
Sexual boredom is a common plague on long-term relationships. “It happens because people kind of fall into patterns of having a sexual relationship, or it’ll just be much less important,” says Firstein. “Learn how to keep things going, how to keep desire going, and how to keep things alive.”
But how? Well, try voicing ideas with your partner and explore new ways to please each other. Just talking about sex can make your sex life a lot more exciting.
Technology is consuming you.
Technology is something many of us rely on heavily nowadays. But your relationship can become stale quickly if you’re constantly attached to your phone. To avoid falling victim to “phubbing,” Firstein suggests instituting some phone-free time each day.
“When you come home, or half an hour after you come home, you have to turn your phones off and put them away for a period of time,” she says. “Just deal with what’s happening between you and your kids and your partner.”
You only spend time together as a family, not as a couple.
Spending time together as a family is important, of course, but the only time you spend time with your partner shouldn’t be at your kids’ school plays or soccer games. Frankly, if those are your date nights, you’re bound to feel a bit bored. Make sure you take time away from the kids to enjoy each other without distractions.
“Check in with each other for at least 10 minutes every day,” Dr. Philip Cowan, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, told Parents. “That can be done after you put the kids to bed or even on the phone while you’re both at work, as long as you’re sharing what happened to you that day and how it’s affecting you emotionally. The pace of life today is so frenetic that few couples do this. But marriages are capable of change, and small changes can make big differences.”
You have empty nest syndrome.
Children can consume a lot of your time and focus. And once they grow up and leave the house, you and your partner can feel like you no longer have anything in common. But rather than deeming your relationship boring without the kids, try to see it as the perfect opportunity to rekindle your romance.
Firstein suggests thinking of it as a new phase in your relationship. “Now, you don’t have that distraction and you just have each other. It could be a very exciting time,” she says. “It actually can be a very fulfilling time to do things that you couldn’t do for a long time.”
You’ve stopped expanding your social circles.
It’s easy to feel stuck in a rut if you’re not including other people in your life besides your partner. So don’t let your friendships fall by the wayside after you tie the knot. “It’s important to have deeper relationships with other people, and it’s very helpful to talk to others about what their experiences are like in common situations,” says Firstein. “This can be having friends you hang out with separately or even couples you enjoy spending time with together. Your relationship with your partner will grow once you have other people in your lives.”
Your career overshadows your marriage.
Obviously, career is important, but don’t let it be all-consuming. One of the easiest ways to make sure your career doesn’t affect your marriage is to avoid logging back on once you get home. If that’s not possible, set aside at least two or three nights a week that are always devoted to family time.
You’re not putting energy into your relationship.
“Sometimes we go through that romantic stage and at about 18 months in we say, ‘Now what?'” says New York-based relationship and marriage therapist Rachel Moheban, LCSW-R. “You need to constantly reinvent and rekindle your relationship, especially developing emotional intimacy.” As time passes in your relationship, be more deliberate about giving your marriage the care and attention it deserves and needs, even after the butterflies die down.
You lack a connection with yourself.
When you’re feeling bored in your marriage, it’s easy to point fingers. However, there could be some internal issues that are affecting how you interact with your partner. “Are we feeling depressed? Are we having stressors at work? What’s going on with our own disconnect that might be causing a disconnect in your relationship?” Moheban asks. Being able to reconnect with yourself can allow you to reconnect with your partner, too.
You assume you’ve outgrown each other.
Some people think that when you’re in a relationship for a long time, you will inevitably outgrow each other. But that’s hardly the case. Don’t assume having a boring relationship is inevitable. Once you remove that mindset, you’ll bring positivity back into your relationship with your partner. As Firstein notes, “It’s a little bit of a scary problem to talk about. But, if you’re aware of the problem, and if you want something else, then you have to talk about it.” And for more advice on how to keep your marriage alive, check out the 30 Things You’re Doing Wrong That Will Kill Your Marriage.
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