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Ask A TFI Clinician: Dealing With Boredom in Your Relationship With David Hauser

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The Internet, bookstores and magazine stands are flooded with content about breaking relationship monotony and boredom. We’ve asked our expert couples and relationship therapists to provide their insights on these issues.

David Hauser, PhD, psychologist at The Family Institute and TFI Talks guest blogger, provides today’s tips.

Locate connections amid all the content.

“A study I read in the last year suggested that a week’s worth of the New York Times’ content contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime during the 18th century—and that’s old media, not even the Internet. Men and women have more content/distractions than ever before, which creates a wealth of opportunities for knowledge growth and experience, but also presents a challenge for couples to stay connected amid the robust consumption of so much content outside just the simplicity of one’s relationship.

Technology comes with incredible gains—but it is important for individuals to have a healthy relationship with the consumption of technology and content, as one’s relationship with technology can trivialize human relationships, when in fact intimate relationships with others are fundamental and core building blocks for happiness in the human experience.”

Look beyond (or below) the boredom.

“Boredom can mean different things for different relationships. Sometimes, boredom may simply be the absence of novelty. However, at other times boredom may be a blanket emotion that is actually covering up underlying anxiety in a relationship, but boredom might be safer to experience than facing the more truthful underlying fear.

I think the most important thing is not take the feeling of boredom at face value—there may be another feeling or experience shrouded underneath the boredom that, when explored, reveals much greater depth—but might be difficult to face.”

Remember what keeps you going.

“There is ample relationship data to suggest that relationship satisfaction in both men and women takes a nose dive after the first child is born and until the last child graduates high school.  However, I think there is a misnomer that mature relationships (3+ years in a partnership) inherently lack adventure and novelty.  Partners in mature relationships do inevitably take on more responsibilities outside the relationship with work, parenting, caretaking of elder parents, etc.   Middle adults (in the “prime years”) are looked to by more vulnerable members of the population (i.e., kids, elderly parents) as the care takers and “responsible ones.”  With this comes increased stress, longer to-do lists, less sleep, and a significant reduction in leisure time.  It is possible, even desired, that the stress and suffering of being responsible for these many tasks and people at this point in life can come with much meaning and purpose in one’s life.  However, amidst all of these responsibilities, the relationship with one’s partner can quickly be put on the back burner.  Our most intimate relationships can then just become a monotonous routine of “check-ins with one another” and “DVR catching up.”

However, the most successful middle adults recognize that their relationship with their partner is the fuel that provides them energy to attend more fully to these other important caretaking roles in life.  This is why it is even more important at this stage in life to carve out time with your partner for fun new experiences, adventurous dates, and seeking out unknown frontiers in your life.”

Find your fun.

“There is a false notion that you are “not supposed to have fun” as an adult.  Yes, it is harder to have fun because there is less free time and more responsibility.  But this just means that couples must become more creative and strategic for maximizing the limited alone time they do have together, and by implementing novelty into the relationship.

The most common complaint at the end of the day or once the weekend rolls around is that “we’re just too tired to think of anything to do besides just eat  dinner, flip on the television, and then head to bed.”  And while it is important at times to give in to the lethargy, and not push ourselves harder than we are able, sleep and catching up on the DVR must not be the only forms of respite in our lives, as they ultimately do not provide the energizing effects that adults might wish.  Whereas, finding novel dates as a couple, developing new hobbies (or even re-visiting old ones), and seeking out creative outlets are the types of activities that while at first might sound hard to discover (or energy consuming), these are actually the types of activity that enhance energy and bring more life in to your daily routines.”

Use tools to deal with relationship boredom.

  1. Strike a balance between comfort and adventure in your lives.  You must have times for comfort and rest.  But you must balance this with adventure and seeking out new experiences.  Try new restaurants or new types of food, seek out new cultural experiences, alter/mix up your daily or weekend routines, be active, find new hobbies (or revisit old ones).
  2. Find a creative outlet in your life.  You do not have to be a world class artist to be creative.  Use Facebook posts to write and see your life a little bit more creatively even in short blurbs or 140 characters.  Use Instagram to take clever photos of the way you see the world.  Find little ways to implement creativity into your life.
  3. Go to couple’s therapy even if you feel like your relationship is healthy.  You will be amazed how much more connected to your partner you will feel if you give yourselves just one hour a week to check in on just your relationship.  Be a little bit selfish, just talk about yourselves, because believe me, you will not find a whole lot of other places in your week that gives you this kind of permission!


David Hauser, PhD, is a staff therapist at The Family Institute specializing in working with families, couples and individuals. He holds a Master’s of Science degree in Marital and Family Therapy from Northwestern University and received his PhD in Counseling Psychology from Arizona State University.


Read Dr. Hauser’s first bio here.

Learn more about The Family Institute on our website.


One response »

  1. Pingback: Relationship Round Up | TFI TALKS

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