Ever Been Stuck in a Rut?

Have you ever been stuck in a rut? Webster’s defines a rut as, “a usual or fixed practice; a monotonous routine; a track worn by a wheel or by habitual passage.” Some might call it “a funk,” or a “stale season.” Ruts can develop in the work place, our spiritual life, personal growth, as well as relationships. Regardless of how we define it, chances are most people have been in a rut. The good news is ruts are normal and can be effectively eradicated with some effort.

Case in point: I live in Virginia Beach and we generally do not get large amounts of snow during the winter. However, when we do get snow the city has a hard time and havoc usually ensues. This winter was an exception; not the havoc part, the measurable snow part. One storm in particular dropped almost 10” in my neighborhood. It was a beautiful thing, but the storm knocked the power out and power equals no morning coffee – Havoc! I own a 2011 Honda Pilot as assumed I would be able to navigate the fresh powder and acquire the desired morning beverage. You know what they say about assuming… I didn’t make it 500 feet before I was stuck in rut and the snow had lifted the Pilot up and I could not get any traction. I was in a rut! I could not turn left or right; I could not go in reverse either. I was lucky enough to have a nice guy in a lifted truck tow me back home and I put the Pilot back in the driveway.

Now this is obviously an example of a physical rut, but I want to talk to you about relational ruts; especially in married relationships. I have a desire to help married couples achieve the marriage of their dreams and those marriages do not come with ruts. Yet, every married couple gets stuck in a rut, and if you have not been stuck yet, you will. Before I share three easy tips with you, it is important to be intentional in your relationship. You might feel your marriage is in a rut, but your spouse may not. Intentionality brings the subject to light. When intentional focus is at hand corrections can be made. No two marriages are the same, but these tips will help you move in the right direction.

Look at the Current Routine.

Sometimes in life we get stuck on auto-pilot. Things are not necessarily bad, but you may feel the calendar is just flying by and life is stale. This is where intentionality takes place. Get out the pencil and paper and list the aspects of your relationship. Check off the ones that are fine and highlight where there needs some improvement. Here are some common areas where couples can fall into a rut:

  • Daily routines
  • Shared activities
  • Meals
  • Date nights
  • Sex
  • Outings with friends
  • Family time

If there is mutual agreement to any part of your life where you feel like you are in a rut, prioritize those areas.  First, start making changes to the areas highlighted that works best for your relationship. You must be intentional and start somewhere; even if it is a small step. The hardest part of getting out of a rut is making a course change. The smallest degree in changing course will lead to a totally different destination. Breaking out of a rut takes work, but it’s well worth the effort. Ready to liven things up?

Intentionally Break the Routine.

Once you have highlighted the areas in your marriage that need a little tweaking, it’s time to put a plan into action. Here are a few ideas for the areas I listed above:

  • Daily routines – Do you go through the same motions every day? If so, shake it up a bit. Try a different route to work. Play some different music while you travel. Get coffee out every now and then, get it at home if you have a Starbucks addiction.
  • Shared activities – I love to play golf and I know my wife will never play golf with me. However, she will happily drive the golf cart. She loves to window shop; me not so much. But, we both like to people watch. Make a list of a few new activities you’d like to try, pick one, and JUST DO IT.
  • Meals – Shake it up in the kitchen. Try at least one new meal at home every week. There are several home delivery services that deliver exotic meals you both can enjoy making together. This allows you the stability of an existing routine, while inserting something new and exciting into the mix.
  • Date nights – This one is simple. If you go on regular date nights, and you should, go somewhere different. Get away from the same old comfortable restaurant and movie deal. Intentionally try out new destinations for your date nights.
  • Sex – This one is almost as easy as the date night fix. Be intentional! Life steps in and outside responsibilities reduce our sex lives to a predictable pattern. Guys, step it up here and help your wife with the kids, household chores, whatever she needs. She’s a crockpot that needs to be plugged in before you go to work. Ladies, set aside some extra time for him to be alone with you, and remember he’s a visual creature.
  • Friends – Do you go out with other married couples? If so, and things are predictable, shake it up and suggest something new. Fun activities like bowling, or a game night at home can be a welcome change to the routine.
  • Family – Bored at home with the kids? Break away from the electronics and social media and get the kids to share their ideas of fun. When I babysit my grandchildren they always want to play horsey. Pop is getting too old and they are getting too big, but you get the point.

The smallest change in the routines of life will help you get out of the rut you are in. Things will become a little more exciting and will springboard into the final tip.

Spontaneity – Plan It.

Isn’t that some sort of oxy-moron? If you and your mate do not intentionally plan to be spontaneous more often, spontaneity simply will not happen. Look at your calendars, make a reminder every week to do something unplanned that will be fun, romantic, or exciting for you both. Spontaneity is fun, and most people deeply desire a measure of it; especially in their marriage. Intentionally planning to be spontaneous may sound strange, but it will pay off and get you out of the “same ole, same ole.”

We are all busy and getting busier all the time. Things can get ordinary, common place; and the only way to eliminate that is to decide you’re not going to let it stay that. Again, be intentional. I cannot stress it enough. Don’t wait; talk about it, then move.

Vernon Brant

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