Updated: Apr 13
Are you feeling bored in your relationship? Instead of breaking up with a boring relationship. Break your habit of being bored.
So many times I have heard people tell me that they are bored in their marriage. Interestingly boredom is given a great deal of credit for the number of divorces we have in our culture today. These are often the same people who have ruminated for sometimes years about “Will I ever find a great mate?” Now that they have a husband or wife, and perhaps kids to consider, they fondly remember their single days of freedom and spontaneity. They long for the days when they could travel, go to bars, shop, and pack a bag and leave without considering anyone else but themselves?
It is true that being married can and does bring delicious moments of ecstasy to our lives. But those moments are always punctuated by times of boredom, confusion and apathy. Boredom is quite normal for human beings to feel. In fact, humans are just about the greatest species in existence when it comes to their ability to “feel” bored. But boredom can become a real problem if you do not understand it, how it happens and how to cure it quickly.
What Causes Relationship Boredom?
Think of boredom as your own “check relationship” warning light that motivates you to make a change (Bench & Lench, 2013). What kind of change? Take time to remember the your best memories and make a real effort to appreciate your partner. As Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote: When you love someone you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity—in freedom.
There are two major contributors to us feeling bored.
One: As human we are hard wired with an innate need for novelty and variety (Bagheri & Milyavskaya, 2020). When we’re lacking new and exciting experiences, we feel unfulfilled. So if along with that wiring, if we also create a belief that we should never feel bored, sad, mad, confused, angry, hurt or any other negative emotion in their marriage, well then, when feelings of boredom show up, we can tell ourselves something is terribly wrong with our relationship instead of understanding the natural emotional and psychological causes.
Two: As humans we also have great abilities to adapt. This is good news for humanity, but can be a bit tricky for relationships. I call this adaptive ability the Maui Syndrome. We’ve evolved to adapt. We acclimate and habituate.
Let me share an experience with you that will help you understand how this adaptive ability can dramatically impact your relationship.
I was engaged to speak in Maui. I had never been to Hawaii before and I was thrilled. I was staying at the Hyatt Regency and at the time some 30 years ago, it was considered one of the most beautiful hotels in the world. When I checked in I was overwhelmed by the beauty of Maui and the hotel. I put my bags in my room and decided to take a walk along the beach at sunset. I stood there feeling the sand on my bare feet, feeling the gentle breeze kiss my cheek, hearing the waves roll in and out. It was heaven on earth. As I wiped the tears of wonder and appreciation from my cheek, I felt altered, bursting with the deepest appreciation and awe.
A few days into my trip, I went shopping. There was a t-shirt store with all of the different sayings and pictures showcased on the wall. I asked the owner of the store, "What is it like to live in paradise?" He pointed to a t-shirt on the wall that read, Just another shitty day in paradise. What? I thought. How could he not see how truly blessed he was to live in such an amazingly beautiful place?
I was there for a week. At the end of the week I was standing on the same beach, same sand, same waves, same palm trees dancing beautifully and yet I wasn't teary eyed like I was the day I arrived. I was stunned that in seven short days, I too had acclimated to the overwhelming beauty before me. This is a perfect metaphor for what happens to people when they fall in love. In the beginning we can barely catch our breath. We are thrilled, excited and overwhelmed with gladness. But then what happens to our awe?
Early on, relationships are easy—that is the magic of infatuation. In those beginning stages, just like me arriving in Maui, everything about your partner is new and exciting. Everything they say is cute or endearing. Their stories are fascinating, their jokes are funny. Your time spent together is fun and enjoyable, merely because you’re with them. We are happy, thrilled and energetic.
Why don't those feelings don’t last forever? Well, life happens. Work, obligations, life stressors and kids begin taking more and more of our energy. As the months and years fly past, relationship excitement not only erodes, but our energy and focus diminish and then the early magic seems to disappear. You can feel stuck in a rut. Instead of energetic and happy, you feel tired and bored.
As we learn more about our relationship partner, there are fewer opportunities to learn new things. As we fall into routines, there’s less excitement. The excitement we feel early on in any experience dissipates over time. We can begin to feel that we are living just another shitty day in paradise.
Entitlement (a feeling that we have a right to demand, to get what we want when we want it, and for all of our expectations to be met without having to respectfully and effectively communicate them) is at the root of the Maui Syndrome. So let's discuss this attitude or feelings of, entitlement. Entitlement causes us to forget the wonderful in our lives, and instead pushes us to focus strictly on our perceived lack. We move into our extreme color personality behaviors. We forget that the value of the present, the familiar, the already experienced. We begin to take our relationships for granted and worse, we stop seeing them as the precious gifts they are. Whether it involves a marriage partner, significant other, family member, friend, or business associate the necessary ingredients for a great relationship are always the same. They include the following: Trust, which comes from choosing to live our lives with integrity. Good Communication, which comes primarily out of our desire and ability to listen and Appreciation, which requires that we remember that life and our relationships that fill it, have great value. We commit ourselves to remembering the AWE. As I mentioned above, entitlement causes us to forget the wonderful in our lives, to acclimate and then take for granted what once brought us so much joy. If feelings of entitlement can shut down our gratitude, and steals our appreciation from our hearts, it can begin to poison with boredom, endanger with entitled expectations and that will weaken even the greatest of relationships. Entitlement infects our relationships like a virus, and causes us to begin to take one another for granted, or worse, become desensitized to what was spectacular about the relationship in the beginning. Entitlement steals our awe, and with it, kills our appreciation. It causes us to lose our ability to remember the value of what we presently have and appreciate it. M. J. Ryan tells us in her book, Attitudes of Gratitude,
“Gratitude lights up what is already there. You don’t necessarily have anything more or different, but suddenly you can actually see what is. And because you can see, you no longer take it for granted.” So how can we cure boredom in a relationship? It is easy, remember how valuable the relationship that you have is, and go out of your way to do something wonderful and exciting for your partner to help them remember as well. I promise it will cure your boredom, every time. For more in depth information about how to cure boredom and feel satisfied and excited again go to the article: How to feel satisfied in your marriage again.
Relationship, personality and communication expert Dawn L. Billings is an author of over 15 books and hundreds of articles.