As marriage counsellors, one of the questions we hear the most is: “How can a couple keep their relationship from falling into a routine?”
Yet, they forget to ask each other the most important question: Who feels it’s a routine? How does my partner define routine?”
A fact we’ve noted in regards to the majority of couples who complain that their relationship has “fallen into a routine.” Normally, only one of the two think this, and the other disagrees. That’s what happened with Nadia and Felipe.
They had been married six years and have a four-year-old daughter. The couple lived in a somewhat stressful relationship. She worked a part-time job in order to help the family’s income, and their daughter stayed at daycare. Felipe would arrive home late and after a shower and dinner, he would glue himself to the TV until he was so tired he dragged himself into bed. They spoke very little, normally Nadia would start talking at dinner, while Filipe simply said “a-ha” and nodded his head now and then—to pretend he was listening. On the weekends, Filipe worked Saturdays until two in the afternoon, and when he arrived home he just wanted to rest and go back to the TV.
Nadia was, understandably, frustrated. “Our life is a routine. I know exactly what’s going to happen when you get home: nothing. It’s just you and that annoying television. I’m tired of this.” — She vented.
Felipe, with an air of surprise and puzzlement, justified himself: “But you know we don’t have the money to be going out and doing what you want. We already talked about this. I thought we agreed that once things get better we’ll do more of what you like. You have to be realistic.”
In other words, what Nadia called routine, Felipe called “tightening the belt until things get better.”
There is a huge problem right there. When a couple has different definitions of what is routine. What’s worst is when one of the two loves routine and the other hates it…
That’s why it goes back to the first question: How can a couple keep their relationship from falling into a routine?
- First of all, the two of you have to know what the other calls routine. Clarify the meaning, understand your partner’s vision and how does it compare to yours. Are there differences?
- Explore the options. What do you expect from me so our relationship doesn’t become annoying? To go out once a week? Go on vacation once a year? Surprise you (in a nice way) on special dates? Of course, you should try your hardest to attend to their expectations.
- Balance your needs. Obviously, the one who’s more likely to get bored with routine is going to need their partner to be more active in doing things that will break them out of the ‘same old.’ On the other hand, if you married someone who loves routine, you’re going to have to learn to bring down your expectations, so that your partner doesn’t feel overwhelmed by having to always do what you like at the cost of compromising their likes. Balance is essential.
Seasoning the above points is the salt of romance. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been together, you have to see each other as dating. That way you’ll never consider that you already conquered your partner. On the contrary, you will always be playing the wonderful I’m going to conquer your heart game. Where you will daily think of ways to express your love and touch your partner’s heart.
Through a bit of effort, your relationship can be so vibrant, it doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been together.
Change the routine in your relationship.