A couple sat on my couch the other day telling me how bland and stale their marriage had become. Neither of them could understand how their marriage had gotten this way. They both talked about how in love they were at the beginning of their marriage and how they would do so many different and fun things together. Lately, though, things were just ... boring. Even their sex life had become passionless.
As we talked more in depth, they felt like they were doing everything right. They were doing a date night whenever they would get a free night together; they spent lots of time together as a family going to the kids' plays, soccer games, etc.; and they both still enjoyed making love with each other (though, they admitted it didn't happen as often or as enthusiastically as they'd like). Things were going well. They couldn't understand why things didn't feel like they were going so great, though.
This couple isn't any more uncommon than most couples that sit on my couch for marriage counseling. In fact, this couple isn't more uncommon than most of my friends, either. Even my wife and I sound like this sometimes.
But, the truth is, the reason their relationship had become bland and boring was because they weren't doing things for themselves anymore. While they talked about doing things together as a family and even things together as a couple, they didn't say anything about stuff they liked to do individually for themselves. Any hobbies, interests or pastimes they liked to do for themselves had completely stopped.
Yes, you may have children and a spouse now, and your priorities have had to change. But when you stop doing things you love for the sake of your marriage, you're going to see problems in your marriage.
You need to do unique things for yourself to give your spouse someone interesting to love.
You also need to do unique things for yourself for your own happiness.
For your spouse
Think back to when you were dating for a minute. When you were dating, you would find new and interesting people. These people had different friends than you, went to different restaurants, liked different music, etc. Even if you didn't end up marrying them, it was still fun while it lasted. Just them being unique made them interesting and exciting.
The same goes for you. If you're not being unique, you're becoming uninteresting to your spouse. Keep up with hobbies you like. Maintain those old interests that got lost along the way.
Yes, you have children right now, and they take up a lot of your priority, but if you lose yourself too much, you're going to lose your marriage, too.
Think about it: Would you want to be married to someone who's boring?
Not only does being unique help your marriage, but it also helps you. All those interests and hobbies you used to enjoy are still enjoyable. Yeah, you might leave an event or interest a little earlier to go home to get your kids in bed. And you might not be able to do things for yourself as often in between PTA meetings, either. But you're still able to do them. Soon you'll start to cherish this time to go out and be yourself.
You'll find the fun you used to have is fun you can still have. You'll feel refreshed and recharged afterwards, and you'll find new things about yourself you never knew existed.
When you're happier within yourself, you're happier in your marriage. And your spouse is happier to see you happier.
Give yourself permission to be selfish in your marriage. Do things you want to do for the sake of being you. It will help you feel more like yourself again and help with your sanity. And, ironically, it will help your marriage, too!
Aaron Anderson is a therapist and Director of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. He is a writer, speaker and relationship expert. Checkout his blog for expert information on how to improve your relationship.