You’re sitting down in the living room, watching TV with your husband, when suddenly you realize that you two haven’t talked about anything substantial in ages. Most of your conversations are about paying the bills, who is doing what chore, or what the kids are up to in school. You might ask him how his work day went, and all you get back a “fine” or a “same as always.” You can tell when he’s getting bored when you’re telling him about the latest gossip at your job. You wistfully remember the early days of your relationship when you would talk late into the night, confiding in each other and making each other laugh with the foibles of your respective youths. Now you’ve heard all his stories, four times over. You know his jokes and you know which movies he likes to quote. That familiarity is nice, but it worries you that the novelty is wearing off, that the two of you might be drifting apart, that he might get bored and stray, and that there is nothing new to share.
Don’t panic! Your relationship might be unique but this problem, sadly, isn’t. It happens to the best of us. So what do you do about it? You might be afraid of bringing it up to him, thinking it might make him feel bad or start a fight. I understand. Luckily, there are things you can do on your own (without having to fight with him) to renew your closeness and connection:
You are life partners, you are parents, and you are spouses. But before you were all those things, you were likely friends. You made each other laugh and you flirted. Who says you can’t do that again? Don’t be afraid to be a little silly; he’s your husband, he loves you, and he won’t judge you! Go out to a stand up comedy act and laugh together so you have some new jokes to share. Perhaps you can go to karaoke and ham it up on a fun song? Sharing these fun experiences while remind the both of you that, before anything else, you were two people that enjoyed sharing new experiences together.
I know it can be tough to keep track of who his coworkers are and what their particular attributes are when you have your own life to balance, but try and understand what is going on in his life outside of the home so that you can ask a better question than “How was work?” Men, in general, will feel as if they are complaining or weak if they respond with negative information to such a general question. Men are raised to be strong and in control of their situation, so it is very difficult for them to admit to challenges and much easier to respond with bland answers like “fine.” Make it easier for him to share by asking a slightly more detailed question, such as, “how’d the presentation go today?” or “did Jim finally show up on time?” or “how’d you close that sale?”
Celebrate each others’ successes with a dinner out or a round of cocktails after the kids have gone to bed. Commiserate losses and new challenges with a back rub, a favorite snack, or just general agreement with him. You’ll see that he will share more willingly as time goes on, and that he’ll probably respond to your sharing in a similar vein. Being involved will further strengthen the connection between the two of you.
Be apart to stay connected.
Sometimes, the challenge is that the two of you are so close you don’t have anything new to tell each other. While that sounds very intimate, it can deprive the two of you of the natural need for novelty. So what to do to stay close? The answer might surprise you: why not try being apart? Now, I’m not talking about a long vacation apart (although that works for some couples) or living apart. No, I’m talking about a day or two where the two of you each do something different and then, when you’re back home together, you can share with each other all the new experiences you had. Perhaps he should go on that fishing trip his buddies keep talking about while you go to the beach with your girlfriends. Maybe you can each go to different new restaurants and then compare notes? The point is to introduce novelty and new stories for each of you to share with the other.