Where you are and what you do are simply factors in the equation, but they are not the summation of a good time. Stop looking for fun in your marriage and start creating it!
No matter how you look at it, your marriage has lost its spark. You haven’t had fun with your husband or wife in ages. Quite simply, you’ve been diagnosed with a boring marriage. So what can be done? Fortunately, the treatment to this condition is simple. Stop searching for fun in your marriage or mourning its loss. Start creating fun yourself!
Is It Normal to Have a Boring Marriage?
Maybe boring marriages are expected these days, especially as the years go by, but that does not have to be your expectation for your marriage. And it shouldn’t be. The Bible teaches that marriage should be enjoyed. Ecclesiastes 9:9 says, “Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun.”
God declares that you can enjoy life with your spouse, even through the pain and challenges that life often brings. God did not give you your spouse to be the grind; He gave you your spouse to be a companion through the grind.
Fun Moments in Marriage Can Be Small
My wife, Amy, is a foodie. I am not. Her favourite restaurants serve small portions and many courses. I prefer large portions served all at once. You would think these differences might drive us crazy, but they don’t. We decided a long time ago to find fun in every nook and cranny of our marriage.
Our foodie differences first surfaced at a fancy restaurant in a big city. When we walked in, I knew immediately that I would leave hungry. It was the type of restaurant I call a “four forker.”
The host seated us at a table near the front window. We had a welcoming view of the garden terrace and plenty of privacy. It was a cute, cozy, and romantic environment.
Then the waiter approached our table with a thick wooden plank that presented us with two mint leaves. My immediate question was, “Is that the salad?”
He invited us to each take a leaf and rub it over our lips, under our noses and around our chins. Amy was all in, but I hesitated.
“I grew up in Illinois where we grew produce, but we never rubbed it on our faces,” I joked. Our waiter didn’t laugh. Come on, shouldn’t rubbing herbs on your face be something a couple does in private? This was certainly one of the most awkward moments I’ve experienced in a restaurant.
The waiter stood waiting, so I gave him a show he’d never forget. I took a bath with that mint leaf, and discarded the wilted leaf on the plank.
Amy giggled with appreciation. She knows how awkward those situations are for me, but she loves how I push myself and work through the awkwardness. No matter where we are, no matter what we are doing, we try to make it fun.
Decide Your Way into Fun
Fun is a choice, not an outcome. You decide your way into fun; you don’t just stumble into it. As a couple, you get to choose whether an activity, date night, or event is fun or frustrating. Where you are and what you do are simply factors in the equation, but they are not the summation of a good time.
For example, can you remember a day when everyone and everything seemed to be working against you to the point that it became comical? That’s when Amy and I simply shake our heads and say, “What else could go wrong?” Every bad thing that happens after that question becomes one more punch line in our day. This kind of perspective can give you and your spouse one more fun story to tell friends and family.
When fun is an outcome and not a choice, the words and actions of others determine the quality of your marriage. But when fun is a choice and not an outcome, the quality of your marriage is determined solely by your attitude.
If you desire less boredom and more fun in your marriage, start by creating it rather than waiting for it. Fun as a couple can be made while lying on a beach, stuck in traffic, standing in line — even while eating a holiday meal with your parents. The opportunities are endless.
You may resist the idea of deciding on fun and think, Yeah, this is all good and well, but it takes two people to make a marriage fun. Well, I propose that it often takes just one spouse to get the ball rolling. So let it start with you. Decide for yourself (not your spouse) to loosen up, not take yourself so seriously and enjoy what life and marriage throw at you.
Create Fun in Everyday Moments
Your marriage needs daily time free from conversations about boring or serious matters, such as the budget, parenting, jobs, and household chores. All it takes is a few minutes of spontaneous fun to lighten up the rest of the day. So inject a little humour into your everyday routines and schedules.
For example, all I need to do to turn an ordinary meal into fun is to grab a vegetable off Amy’s plate and start rubbing it on my face. It immediately takes us back to that mint leaf. We laugh, reminisce a bit, and plan for another foodie experience.
Your lighter moments may have nothing to do with food. Do you need to run errands? Do a little dance to a familiar tune while you’re waiting in line at the shops. While sitting in traffic, turn on the radio and belt out a song. Better yet, turn off the radio and invite your spouse to join you as you belt out a song. If you can’t sing or dance, that’s even better! Uncoordinated dancing and out-of-tune singing usually guarantee a laugh.
Make it a goal to get your spouse to smile, chuckle or even belly laugh. Laughter is good for the soul. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A joyful heart is good medicine.” Your marriage needs a daily dose of laughter.
Find Fun Games to Play Anywhere
Every marriage needs a go-to game. A simple game like “Would You Rather” requires no set-up time, game pieces or box. It travels with you everywhere you go, and it’s ever evolving. Ask each other a series of questions like:
- Would you rather live on a lake or on the ocean?
- Would you rather have dinner at the White House or take an all-expenses-paid two-week tour of Europe?
- Would you rather be Batman or Superman?
Amy and I love playing “Would You Rather” because it helps us dream. We rapid-fire questions at each other, often pausing to ask, “Why?” This game even has the potential for fun debates. If you’ve been married for some time, you just might begin answering these questions for each other. When you hear an unexpected answer, respond in jest, “And I thought I knew you!”
Your game doesn’t have to be “Would You Rather” but it should be something enjoyable to you both. And it needs to be engaging enough that you can start replacing thoughts of, “My marriage is boring, we never do anything fun anymore” with “Hey, lets play our game! I can’t wait to make my spouse laugh.”
Plan for Fun: Quality Time
Once you find fun in everyday moments, you may start craving it in larger doses. Make time for fun dates. Schedule one night a week to hit the town and unwind.
Studies show that quality couple time on a regular basis relieves stress, increases sexual desire, and lowers your chances of divorce. Quality time evades many couples who get stuck in the rut of “dinner and a movie.” If your marriage lacks in the creative dating department, try something new. Here are some fun date ideas that may help you break out of your routine:
- Cooking classes
A weekly date night is good, but an “annual abandon” is even better. Plan a getaway every year while the kids are at camp, with grandparents, or on a school trip. Going on a trip is exciting, but you can get just as much excitement out of planning a trip. If you haven’t been on a holiday since your honeymoon, it’s time to plan some out-of-town fun where you get away from work and the kids.
Budget for Fun: Reject Boredom
As you work on your family budget for the new year, add a line item called “couple fun,” “marriage satisfaction” or “rejecting boredom.” Investing in your marriage is as important as investing in your child’s education and your retirement plan.
I often hear couples say, “We can’t afford to date or take holidays away from the kids.” Blogs and social media posts offer penny-pinching advice like, “Dating your spouse does not need to be expensive or extravagant.” I agree. You don’t need a yacht to enjoy time on the water, and you don’t need a five-star hotel to enjoy a romantic vacation. However, occasionally spoiling your spouse is not a waste of money, and it just might be more affordable than you think.
Review your other expenses while looking for the funds to invest in your marriage. That might mean buying a used vehicle rather than a new one, or eating out with the kids less and with each other more. Some couples even choose to buy tiny houses with no mortgage so they can do more together.
You significantly lower the risk of your marriage seeming boring if you set aside resources and commit to creating fun with your spouse.
Work for Your Marriage: Goodbye Boring!
These ideas may seem drastic and perhaps ridiculous to you, but your marriage is worth it. Your children need a mum and dad who invest relationally, emotionally, physically and yes, even financially, in their marriage. Don’t go into debt for the sake of your marriage, but don’t give up on some great experiences together because of the stuff in your life. To paraphrase pastor Mark Batterson: “Invest in experiences, not stuff.”
Amy and I choose to drive a minivan that has over 290,000 kms on the odometer. When people ask, “Ted, when are you going to get a new car?” I respond with, “I’m driving this one until the wheels fall off because I love dating my wife.” I’d much rather spend money on my wife than a new car. Our van may be falling apart, but our marriage is stronger than ever.
One final thought: Many couples believe fun is the result of compatibility. In other words, the more compatible you are, the more fun you will experience. But the biblical definition of compatibility is found in Mark 10:8, where it says, “The two shall become one.”
Compatibility is not something you discover or find online. You choose compatibility. You choose to blend your differences. Some call the process of two becoming one “hard work,” but I call it “fun work.” And if you’re doing fun work, you’ll realise you no longer find your marriage boring.
A senior lady in our church has worked for the same missions organisation for over 60 years. She often says, “Find a job you enjoy, and you won’t work a day in your life.” The same is true for marriage. Find fun in your marriage, and it won’t seem boring, tedious, or like such hard work.
© 2016, 2023 Ted Cunningham. Used with permission. Originally published at focusonthefamily.com.