When life gets busy, partners are often at risk of losing site of their goals as a couple because they’re so focused on the immediate demands of their own careers and other personal obligations. Unfortunately, it’s a pattern that sets the stage for gradually growing apart. Have you ever heard of—or experienced—couples who go out to dinner and struggle to make conversation? Trust me. You don’t want to be them.
Keeping the Connection
One of my best answers for avoiding that trap is to make sure you have goals and dreams in common that you can enjoy working toward together. These should definitely go beyond the boilerplate goals like getting out of debt and saving for retirement, keeping your home in good working order and even working together to raise happy, healthy children, if you have them. Those are incredibly important—but finding brand-new, outside-the-box projects together can be a great way to get out of your comfort zone, learn new things about each other and remind yourselves that a “grown-up relationship” isn’t just about paying the mortgage and weekend date nights so predictable you feel like you just stepped out of the movie “Groundhog Day.”
Start by brainstorming, and don’t let yourself become discouraged if your first few ideas go over like a dead balloon. Eventually you’ll hit upon something that inspires both of you. Maybe it’s taking a foreign language class or dance class. Maybe it’s dusting off those old rackets in the garage and starting to play tennis again (you could even find some doubles partners and start some friendly rivalries—now there’s a bonding experience). Maybe it’s working toward a dream for the future, like that trip to Ireland you’ve always dreamed of taking. Before you know it, the planning alone could turn into a favorite after-dinner pastime.
Keep it interesting – explore each others interests
Another fun experiment is to involve your partner in goals or pastimes that have traditionally been the sole domain of just one or the other. Are you an avid golfer, but your wife has zero interest? See if she might be interested in taking a few lessons (not necessarily from you—that can be a double-edged sword), and maybe she’ll surprise herself and catch the bug. Chances are you won’t become true golfing buddies anytime soon, especially if you’ve had years of practice and she doesn’t know a driver from a putter. But you could enjoy going out to the driving range together to hit a few buckets on a sunny afternoon or watching the Master’s over a few beers with friends.
And by all means, if one of you is willing to take an interest in the other’s favorite activity, I highly recommend reciprocating. Maybe you’re a lover of novels while he sticks strictly to nonfiction, but if you look through your shelves and suggest a few you think he might enjoy, see if he’ll give them a try. If you get lucky and find that he shares your enthusiasm for at even one of them, at the least you have a new topic for conversation, even if he’s not quite ready to join your neighborhood book club.
Trying is half the fun
No matter what you choose, it’s bound to be a positive exercise for your marriage. Heck, the worst that can happen is that you try something and both hate it—and then think about how much fun you’ll have making fun of the dance instructor with the terrible toupee, or recalling the time you set off the fire alarm during your Szechuan cooking class. Sharing interests can play a key role in ensuring you and your partner or spouse stay connected. Setting goals to acquire new skills or do new things together that you both enjoy can do wonders to keep that connection solid as the years go by.
If you and your spouse or partner are struggling because you feel as though you’ve lost that connection you once had, the caring therapists at the OC Relationship Center can help. The great news is that with desire and practice, many relationships get better and happier. We want to help make it easier and better for you. Call us today at 949-393-8662 for an appointment or more information, or book your appointment now via our online scheduling tool.