My Spouse Is Home All the Time!
by Becky Melby and Cynthia Ruchti
Authors Becky Melby and Cynthia Ruchti have heard that cry—from friends, neighbors, readers, and coming out of their own mouths. My spouse is home all the time, and it’s not the bliss I hoped it would be. What now?
One of the issues that sometimes arises in conversations about 24/7 togetherness, no matter the reason for it—retirement, job loss, work-from-home—is how familiarity can sometimes breed meh. Same old same old. Routines become ruts.
Ever have one of those mornings when you roll over in bed and stare at that peacefully sleeping hunk of man and you just can’t help but . . . yawn?
Asking for a friend.
Remember when you thought being together 24/7 was going to be just like your dating days, only better? All this time together to hold hands, snuggle, talk about feelings, gaze into each other’s eyes, sneak off for some afternoon delight whenever and wherever . . .
Okay, so maybe your illusions weren’t quite that unrealistic. But maybe you harbored a weak hope that the opposite of “out of sight, out of mind” would kick in once you were in each other’s line of sight all day.
So what happened?
He works in one room, you work in the other, in your slouchy, comfy clothes. You sit in your separate recliners watching TV while you eat supper. You wake up at different times, go to bed at different times. The sizzle has fizzled.
Boredom can cause an otherwise stable marriage to stall out and take a nosedive into choppy seas. What do you do when you’ve stopped climbing and the engine is about to seize up?
The only thing we two authors are experts at is the been-here-before-rewind-start-over cycle. But there have been victories along the way. We’ve learned a few things about marriage nosedives we’re happy to share:
1. Wait it out. In the absence of any definable problem, a sense of apathy about knight in shining armor may be caused by a bad dream about him, reading a too-good-to-be-true romance novel, or eating too much taco dip before bed. Or him eating too much taco dip before bed. If you can’t put your finger on an actual problem, give it forty-eight hours. Two days from now your knight may suddenly be back on his white charger.
2. Look back. A little nostalgia can be as invigorating as an energy drink. Get out the old pictures and love letters, curl up in a comfy chair, and step back in time. Invite your man to join you on a “remember when” date.
3. Plan something fun. Here are two of our favorites:
- Bake or cook together. Nudging each other away from the silverware drawer, seeing who can get their plate in the microwave first, turns a mundane, necessary task of life into an opportunity for playfulness.
- Plan a future trip. “Where do you want to go for vacation?” is a question that can spark fun dreaming together. Even if, realistically, you know you only have the time and budget for a long camping weekend, it’s still fun to plan that “someday, if only” vacay.
A little creative thinking can give you a list of go-to things to do together that can banish yawns and reignite fading embers.
An hour before putting these words to paper, my Wonderhubby and I had a discussion about something we may or may not have hashed into slimy little bits of meh a dozen-to-the-tenth-power times in our marriage. A too familiar debate. I realized I could:
- Give in for the sake of peace but solve nothing. In essence, letting the subject return to a state of meh—uninspiring, unexceptional, lacking interest or enthusiasm or resolution.
- Keep pressing in, defending my position, which I frankly thought could rival a high-priced lawyer’s closing arguments in a tough case.
- Find a way to bless him.
As soon as I’d quieted my heart enough to hear the “bless him” option, I had my answer. Who would settle for meh if they could convert it to bless? Propelled by what I knew was the Holy Spirit rather than my nature, I said, “I wonder if what we both need to do right now is to cut each other some slack.”
I moved to his side of the kitchen island and wrapped my arms around his shoulders. “What if we cut each other big swaths of slack so we can get through this?”
The bless-him route had a great return on investment. Peace reigned once again. Productivity increased. And we were high-fiving each other for figuring out a tough calculation for minimizing the wonkiness of the walls of this old, old house.
Sometimes meh is a state of being, when togetherness to the max over long stretches of time leads us to define success as tolerating each other pretty well. Like a coworker you are stuck with and find ways to work around but would never invite to lunch.
Nothing in God’s way of doing life opts for “Yeah, whatever.” He is a relational God. His is a plan for excellence, for ongoing growth, for abundance. He is a passionate God who applauds wholehearted devotion (Psalm 119:10) and an all-in mentality. If He is pained when His people’s love for Him turns lukewarm (Revelation 3:16)—becomes meh—why wouldn’t He feel the same way about a union He instituted and blesses?
Marriage can drift into a pattern of windless days, what sailors know as the doldrums, if we’re not careful. No forward current. Nothing to fill our souls’ sails. We’re still in the sailboat. Still together. But not only are we immobile, we’re draining our rations and eyeing each other as if our partner is the reason the wind isn’t blowing.
Especially during stressful times, or either voluntary or involuntary confinement in the same space, or in the days or seasons when our marriage’s sails have no wind in them, survival depends on our attitude toward one another, on implementing creative measures for endurance, and on our commitment to wait it out.
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