Boredom in marriage.
In talking to people who have gone through divorce, many times I hear them say something that just breaks my heart. “I was bored, bored with my life, my job, my wife and so a divorce was at least a way to try to escape that boredom.” Hearing this affects me this way because I think it is a problem that ultimately affects much more than just our relationships.
I think in many cases, boredom is a result of too much comfort and security. Few of us seriously have to wonder where our next meal will come from, how we’ll protect ourselves from the elements or if we’re at risk from some predator. We know that the grocery store down the street will always have food, we can generally expect to have a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs, and with few exceptions our lives are not threatened seriously at any point in time during a normal day. Life is pretty comfortable, and I think as a byproduct of that comfort, many of us sort of stop living, stop experiencing life and instead let ourselves be lulled into cruising along on auto-pilot. No wonder it seems boring! And in terms of our relationships, we know our spouses’ routine, we know their wardrobe, their habits and there are few surprises on any given day. Again, no wonder we’re bored!
But there are several ways to chase away boredom and to replace it with wonder and a sense of awe. A simple way to take some of the boredom out of a typical day is to try imagine what your day would be like if you suddenly knew you had only one week left to live. Imagine how the boring things that make up your day now would look with that type of perspective. You might say that’s a silly thing to do, but think about it. Who’s to say you don’t have only one week left to live? People die every day, and the vast majority of them never see it coming. I once knew an acquaintance who died of a massive heart attack while walking between two buildings where he worked. No warning, just walking from one place to another doing his normal daily routing one minute, the next minute he was face down on the ground, gone. I knew another friend who died in an auto accident at a young age. Again, driving along one minute assuming he was in control of his vehicle, the next minute he was gone. Life is not certain for any of us, and if you consider that just a little, you may find that some of the normal day to day goings on will take on a new significance. Boredom is, after all, a matter of perspective. Having a nice quiet dinner at home surrounded by family wouldn’t be boring if you knew your number was up tomorrow.
Ok, so let’s assume you didn’t like my somewhat morbid approach to changing your perspective on your life. Fine, then let’s change it another way. Let’s shake things up a bit, replace some of the predictable with something unexpected. These can be big changes or minor ones, but the trick here is to kick yourself out of your rut, leave the comfort zone behind and embrace some change. How about this? How about instead of looking at your spouse as “boring old Ralph” look at him as “Ralph the wonderful!” After all, what’s the real difference between someone normal and someone extraordinary? Simply our perspective about that person. We worship movie stars because we believe they are different than us, they’re lives are wonderfully filled with romance and adventure while ours are predictable and plain. But in reality, movie stars and other people we idolize are really just people like us. I once sat in the audience during a taping of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Jay’s guest that night was a major movie star. While the cameras were rolling, the movie star image was perfect and I like everyone else was focused on the actor’s “presence.” But I noticed something at one point while the taping was paused for a commercial break. The star crossed his legs and his pant leg pulled up slightly, and his socks were sliding down his ankles just exactly the same way mine were as I sat in the audience. Again, you may think this is a bit silly, but it brought something to me with clarity, this man was just a man who put his socks on in the morning like everyone else. So, if he was human and normal just like me, then who’s to say I couldn’t be exciting and extraordinary in my own way? Your husband may seem somewhat boring to you right now because you feel like he is predictable and plain. But what if you set out to make it your mission to discover the parts of him that were extraordinary? What if you made it your goal to discover and truly appreciate his talents and interests. Or what if you set out to make yourself exciting, to live your life with some unpredictability? What if you tried to cook that dish that sounds exotic and difficult to prepare? Even if it’s a flop, you will still have introduced something new into your daily routine.