Well, we’re in our new house! Not everything is put away yet, but it’s livable and we can get both cars in the garage! So, I’ll close this series with one final lesson I’ve learned from this experience. What I’ve learned about marriage from buying a house is that it’s easy to let routine take over your marriage.
After twenty years of living in one place, you develop a lot of routines. The cereal is always in the same place. You know which door latches easily and which door needs a little extra push. You know how long it takes to get hot water in the shower what you can do while you’re waiting on it. You learn these routines and pretty much go through life on auto-pilot.
But in a new house, all your routines get tossed out. Everything is changed. Things are in different places. It’s a brand new, unfamiliar setup.
Still I’ve been surprised by how quickly we’ve adjusted. Within just a couple of days we had already developed routines like:
- Who will typically sit where.
- Where the remote control will be.
- What path to take when going for a walk.
- Where thing go in the pantry and refrigerator.
- What day the garbage is collected.
What’s this have to do with marriage? When you first get married, everything is new and you have to learn new ways of doing things. But it doesn’t take long before you’ve developed routines in marriage. Routines like:
- Who fixes the coffee.
- What time you eat dinner.
- What TV shows you regularly watch.
- What times are best for sex.
- Who takes out the trash.
- What time you go to bed.
Routines are not all bad. In fact, it would be hard to get through the day without some routines. Can you imagine if each time you got in the car to go somewhere, you had to think to yourself, “Do I put the car in gear first or do a start the car first? Where’s the seat belt? Which pedal do I push for the brakes?”
Routines can make things run more smoothly, but some routines can be problematic. For instance, have you ever driven somewhere familiar (like work or the grocery store) and as you were pulling into the parking lot you realized you didn’t really remember the drive. That’s a problem, because while you were on auto pilot you were unaware of things going on around you.
Likewise, routines can be a problem in marriage, because they can cause you to go on auto-pilot and lose your awareness of your spouse. Marriages are full of routines. See if any of these sound familiar…
- My spouse always plans the date and gets the sitter.
- I always play golf or go out with friends on Saturday afternoon.
- I do the outside work and my spouse does the inside work.
- We usually go to the same restaurants.
- I just wait on my spouse to tell me what they want to do.
- My spouse knows me so well, I’ve quit trying to surprise them.
- I can’t remember the last time we were out on a date.
- We always go to the same place for vacation.
- We know each other so well we don’t have to talk that much.
These can be signs that routine is driving your marriage more than you are. If there’s a routine in your marriage that leads you to take your spouse for granted or keeps you from being sensitive to their needs, that is a routine you need to disrupt and change.
It’s really not that hard to break a routine. You just need to…DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.
Start with your own routines:
- Take a different way home from work.
- At the restaurant, order something you don’t usually order.
- Change up a routine at work and see if it improves things.
- Listen to a radio station you don’t usually listen to.
- Try doing something with your non-dominant hand.
- Go to a grocery store you don’t typically go to.
Next move on to your marriage routines:
- Change your regular plans and do something with your spouse.
- If your spouse usually brings you a glass of tea, bring them one instead.
- If your spouse usually bathes the kids, you do it.
- If your spouse usually makes the date night plans, you plan it. (Don’t forget the sitter!)
- If your spouse usually initiates sex, you make the first move.
- If you usually go to the same place for vacation each year, go somewhere different this year.
- If you usually watch TV of an evening, turn it off one night and listen to music.
- Take your spouse to a restaurant you’ve never been to.
It’s been said that a rut is simply a grave with both ends knocked out. Marriage is too short to spend it in a rut/grave. You don’t have to move to a new house to get out of your routines. Start small. Start where you are.
Think about something you do the same way all the time. Try changing that up and doing something different this week. It may be a small step into a much bigger life. Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts on this.
Copyright © 2015 Bret Legg