I have this friend. Let’s call her Sarah. Sarah is smart, successful, beautiful and happily married, or so I thought. Over coffee one afternoon, she blurted out a confession that had clearly been niggling at her for a while, like a little tick burrowing in to her conscience. “I’m just so bored,” she sighed. “We never do anything. He comes home from work, grabs a beer and just slobs on the sofa in his sweatpants.”
The ‘we’ she was referring to was herself and her husband. Stirring her coffee idly, she looked up at me with hopeful eyes and asked: “Do you feel that way about your relationship?”
I lied. I felt I had to. Her hang dog expression made me feel guilty for acknowledging my truth: that I don’t feel like I am getting bored in my relationship. Quite the opposite. I feel happy, fulfilled and I still get ‘the butterflies’.
I’ve been with my husband for fourteen years. We met when I was seventeen and he was twenty one and we’ve stuck together ever since. We married three years ago and whilst it really isn’t all champagne and roses, we do still have fun together. After all this time, he’s still the person I want to hang out with the most.
Maybe I was a bad friend to Sarah. Maybe I should have advised rather than lied but I feared sounding like one of those awful ‘smug marrieds’ because nobody wants to be that couple. But certainly her words made me reflect on my marriage and got me wondering why my husband and I are not getting bored and still enjoy each other so much and I thought hard about how we manage to avoid the boredom that is somewhat inevitable in relationships, either new or old.
Don’t get bored of yourself
Our other halves are exactly that: the other side of our relationship and whilst they can make or break your mood for the day (coffee in bed = good day, moaning at you for forgetting to unload the dishwasher the night before = bad day), they’re not fully responsible for making you feel fulfilled in your life. If you’re stuck in a job that you hate and then come home in the evening to whinge at your partner (hey, we’ve all been there) it’s not exactly conducive to a romantic mood over your evening meal.
Likewise, if you’re unhappy with your body, sexy time isn’t going to be high on your agenda when you’d rather hide your body with the duvet instead of getting busy under it. I’m not saying don’t share your daily gripes with your partner, but don’t assume that they are the root cause of your discontentment and boredom.
Instead, think about what you can do to make yourself feel better. Take up a new hobby and then share your interest with your partner, meet up with your friends for a cocktail midweek, find a new boxset for you both to curl up with, take a class, go to the gym. People in relationships can forget that they are separate, unique people; find something that interests you and you might find that life is suddenly more interesting.
Flirt with each other
When was the last time you sent a racy text to your partner in the middle of the day for no other reason than you just wanted to make them smile (or gasp!)? When was the last time you complimented them on their appearance? Women are particularly bad at expecting men to shower them with compliments. They’re often disappointed when they don’t, thinking that the ‘spark’ has gone. But it works both ways. I try to compliment my husband every day and I don’t just mean a generic ‘you look nice’. Commenting on how great his ass looks in his jeans or how good he is at his job always wins me a smile and a kiss. Plus like attracts like; the more I compliment him, the more he compliments me.
We’re not perfect, but we do show each other affection frequently, both in private and in public (not in an over the top PDA way, sucking face in public is not my thing!). Something as simple as him reaching for my hand when we’re sat on a friend’s sofa reassures me that he cherishes me. And that is never boring.
Date like you’ve just met
I’m a simple girl at heart. Dinner and a movie for the win every time, but even I know that doing that every date night can get dull. You end up rehashing the same conversation over the same meal in the same restaurant and then not talking to each other for 2 hours straight in the movie theatre. There’s a place for that, of course, but mixing it up and doing something different can really liven up a relationship that has seen better days. Try something new together; wine tasting, go-karting, pottery painting, the theatre, paint balling. You never know, you might discover that you or your partner has a hidden talent that has never been shared before and if not, at least you’ll have something different to tell your colleagues on Monday.
Dress up for each other
This might sound a little retro in a ‘dinner is on the table, honey’ sense but hear me out. I know my husband likes me to wear my hair curly. He loves me in red lipstick, a dress and heels (maybe he is a bit retro). This get up isn’t exactly convenient on a daily basis. But every now and then, I’ll wear an outfit I know he’ll like. In short, I make an effort for him. This works both ways.
I have a thing for bookish looking guys with glasses, brogues and v-neck sweaters over shirts and ties so when my man dresses like this I know he’s doing it for me. It helps to keep the attraction there which in turn helps the flirting, which then encourages compliments so in fact, this could well be one of the most important pieces of advice for avoiding getting bored in your relationship. Superficial? Maybe…but it makes undressing each other more fun.
For me, this is the most important piece of advice I can give. Relationships are supposed to be fun and make you happy. If they don’t then what’s the point? If you just don’t find your relationship fun anymore, then try talking to your partner about a time in your relationship when things were better. Share memories, laugh at past mishaps and petty arguments.
Case in point: I bought some fresh ginger for a meal and my husband thought it was some kind of mouldy fruit and threw it out. I went ballistic at him, ranted that he’d ruined my culinary masterpiece of Thai laksa, moaned that he didn’t respect my things. What did he do? He stood there, took my tirade of abuse and then laughed. Howled actually. This made me angrier until he said, through giggles, “Jen, are we really having a fight about ginger?” And I cracked up. We laughed for ages and it was fun. Laughter unites us and brings us joy. Those who are joyful are not getting bored. Find the joy in your relationship. Go to a comedy club if you need to. Or buy some ginger.
Accept that sometimes things are dull
There will be times when your relationship is a little tepid. Life happens and things get in the way of your relationship being a priority. It’s normal and you shouldn’t be worried when it happens. We all have moments when we look at our partners. Maybe when they’re in their sweatpants for the third day running and playing the same game on their tablet that they’ve been playing for two hours…*cough*.. and think, ‘wow my relationship is dull’. But don’t get stuck in the trap of assuming that dull is a bad thing. When you’re facing a tough time at work or with your friends or family, dull can sometimes be very comforting.
If you’re the kind of couple that goes clubbing every weekend and jets off on romantic city breaks every month then that’s wonderful if you’re happy together. Conversely, Saturday nights on the sofa with a take out and a bottle of wine might sound boring. But that could be just what you want…and need. Don’t get caught up in how your relationship looks to others if you’re happy with your own little relationship routines. Love isn’t always exciting; sometimes it’s just like that pair of sweatpants: comfortable.
My husband and I now have a baby. It’s rare that we get to go on date nights, or dress up in clothes that don’t feature some kind of bodily fluid (“It’s spit up,” “nope it’s poop.” “Sniff it and see.”) Most days I text him to ask him to pick up formula rather than sending a naughty message. Some might call us the boring couple and a few years ago I’d have agreed but boredom is subjective. And besides… we’ll always have the ginger.