Dear Mark and Jill,

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I’m reaching out because I’d love your advice. I’m married to a wonderful man and we have 2 great kids, ages 12 and 15. We’ve made it through a lot in our marriage and we are very committed to each other.

However, I’ve been growing uneasy about how boring our relationship has become. I feel like we are too tired to have fun anymore. We hardly talk about anything except who is picking up what kid at what time or other daily life details. Our last “date” was a drive across town to take the car to the shop!

I don’t know if it’s the intensity of parenting kids who are involved in a bunch of activities, our busy jobs, or just the time of life we are at. I feel like our relationship is really stale and stagnant. It’s hard to remember the couple we used to be, who always had a ton to talk about and loved finding ways to spend time together.

I’m afraid to bring this up to him because he does so much to help make everything work and I don’t want him to feel criticized. I’m also afraid that if we do spend time together, we won’t even enjoy ourselves because we’ve grown so distant. Sometimes I wonder if I should just let things stay as they are. We don’t fight; we cooperate with parenting duties and household tasks – on the surface everything seems fine.

Is this normal? What should I do?

Thanks so much,

Feeling Stale

Dear Feeling Stale,

We’re so glad you reached out. The fact that you want to improve your marriage shows how much you care about it. We also want you to know that we get many emails from couples who experience this feeling of staleness—you’re not the only one! 

It’s normal for a marriage relationship to change over time and with the demands of life, especially in the busy season of raising older kids who are out of the house a lot. You are juggling schedules and responsibilities. It’s easy to slip into “task mode” with life and marriage.

First, let’s answer your question, “Should I just let things stay as they are?” Definitely not! Avoiding the issue in order to keep the peace will not help your relationship in the long run. When we stay silent, we leave room for resentment, misunderstanding, or other negative influences to grow.

The best approach is always to be gracefully honest about what you’re feeling. Chances are, he may be feeling it, too. Ask your husband if there’s a good time to talk, and plan the conversation to minimize interruptions. Then, be direct; don’t hint or hope that he’ll figure out what you mean. Here’s what direct looks like: Affirm how much you appreciate him and how thankful you are for your marriage and the life you’ve built together. Then share that you’re feeling like you’ve fallen into some marriage ruts that you’d like to break out of. Finally, share one idea you have for investing in your marriage in a new way. Ask him if she’s felt that way and if he has any ideas himself.

Here are some other tips:

  • Check your expectations. Are they realistic? If you’re holding your relationship to the standard for “fun” that you had in the newlywed days before kids, or comparing your marriage to another couple, bring that to a stop. Often our expectations set us up for disappointment without us even realizing it. FYI…a drive across town to take the care to the shop can be a great time for connection! One small tweak to stop at at coffee shop for 30 minutes can turn it into a little more connection!
  • Keep rowing. We like to say that in marriage, if you’re not rowing, you’re drifting. Don’t wait for your spouse to take action. What can you do, to start rowing to reignite that spark? With a little effort, you can weave connections into your everyday routines–like greeting him with a kiss when he walks in the door or sending him a text letting him know you’re thinking of him. (Need ideas–check out our Flirt Alert resource!
  • Pay attention to your thoughts. When you feel tempted to think about how boring your marriage is, redirect your thoughts to focus on the things you appreciate about your marriage. Take time to identify what you love about your husband—the unique, special things that make him who he is! Acknowledge the little moments you find meaningful: how he plays with the kids, the way he fills up the car with gas, his sense of humor. Celebrate what you have been through in your marriage and think with confidence about the good things ahead.

Part of marriage is choosing love and commitment through demanding seasons when you may have less attention to give each other. However, busyness is never an excuse for growing careless about your marriage or settling for second-best. 

With good communication and some intentionality, you can learn to cherish each other even in the midst of carpool schedules, house repairs, bills, and the everyday grind. This is the foundation for a marriage that will go the distance. You have what it takes to champion reconnection!

We hope that is helpful!

❤️ Mark and Jill

Want to dig deeper? Take a look at the 4-Week Event that over 90% of attendees call a “game-changer” for rekindling their marriage. Take a look at No More Perfect Marriages: Home Edition.

Another next step option is to join our Date Night Community. You can do that here! 

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