Even if your relationship is of the rock-solid Emily Blunt/John Krasinski variety, every couple goes through “ruts” (aka stretches that leave you feeling dull or unfulfilled). Here are the three most common offenders—and how to emerge from each, stronger than ever.
THE ‘AUTOPILOT’ RUT
The problem: Life has gotten pretty damn routine, and nowadays you and your partner are sharing the same “eat, sleep, repeat” daily agenda. This zombie-like state has started to make you question the vitality of your relationship.
The fix: Step 1: Plan something fabulous—sure, you might be in the doldrums school year stretches, but what mutual soul food can you look to in the future? (Recreating your honeymoon trip to Tuscany after six months of saving? Downsizing and moving to the coast when the kids are in college?) Let the prospect of planning an exciting pursuit together energize you both. Which brings us to step 2: Starting a new weekly tradition that will allow you to reconnect. Maybe that’s a Taco Tuesday date night, or maybe it’s just sharing a cup of tea when the kids go to sleep.
THE ‘SEX LIFE’ RUT
The problem: The honeymoon phase is over and you’ve grown very comfortable—specifically, with prioritizing sleep and relaxation over hanky-panky. You’ve come to view sex as a chore to be ticked off and you don’t know how to break free of this mind-set.
The fix: We know, we know—it isn't the sexiest CTA, but get serious about it. Make the time and the effort, even if that means adding "bedroom time" to your Google Cal (spontaneity isn't everything), or brainstorming obligations you can bail on to free up more energy. As The New York Times writes, “Many couples discover that if they force themselves to have sex, soon it doesn’t become work and they remember that they like sex. The body responds with a flood of brain chemicals and other changes that can help.” So you see, scientifically speaking, the first step toward having a better sex life is really just sex to begin with.
THE ‘MILESTONE’ RUT
The problem: Your relationship has reached a crossroads in regards to an important milestone, whether it’s moving in together, tying the knot, making an investment or making a baby. You’re not on the same page, and it’s causing you distress.
The fix: As with all things love and romance, an open, honest conversation is the first matter of business. (Letting these major longings stew out of fear is a recipe for utter disaster.) Tell your partner what you want, as well as your reasons for wanting it, and ask that they do the same. If the consensus after this conversation is that you want entirely different things—and neither of you shows signs of budging—it might be a good time to explore couples counseling...or to cut the cord entirely.
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