Is Your Boring Marriage a Prison Sentence?
Look, for the sake of argument, I am going to assume that you did NOT marry someone you found boring at the time. I mean, OF COURSE it happens, especially when the marriage is a means to an ends, like for financial stability or even pro-creation, but we generally do not make a lifelong pledge of love to a person who bores us to tears. However, as Chris Rock has joked, “You can be married and bored or single and lonely”, so clearly boredom is a pretty normal part of the marriage cycle.
This may be a quick “AHA!” moment for everyone who has ever wondered why people stay in toxic, co-dependent, melodramatic marriages — at least they’re never bored! The truth is, as a species, especially since the advent of the smartphone all-access, all the time world, our tolerance for boredom is at an all-time low — recent studies suggest our attention span, at 8 seconds, is also at an all-time low — even goldfish beat us out. So are we doomed to spend our lives in a prison of relationship boredom?
Well, not so fast, because studies ALSO show that boredom is HEALTHY. Our capacity to self-soothe and self-entertain goes hand-in-hand with our capacity for happiness in general. ALSO — we are biological adults (although in some cases, not psychological adults) and we should not be reliant on ANYONE else to “make us happy”. If you need a placating spouse who is metaphorically always buying you ice cream because you are having a “bad hair day”, you are NOT a grown-up.
However, there are obviously totally legit complaints to be made about a boring marriage and several courses of action that might be taken to decide if this is where you want to spend the rest of your life. First, you have to dig down and get honest — why are you bored? Are you bored because you expect your significant other to entertain and enable you?
Or are you bored because you’re BORING? (This is hard to admit but relatively easy to change–read a book, take a class, stimulate yourself and you instantly become more stimulating.)
Or are you bored because over the course of your married life you have continued to grow and change and evolve while your partner has not?
Or are you bored because your spouse is always growing, changing and evolving and you just want someone to debate pizza toppings and what movie to watch on Netflix with?
Boredom has many angles and formats, you see. We believe that “intelligent” people find “stupid” people boring, but the truth is, (forgiving the labels), the reverse is just as often true. If you are just itching to discuss the latest gossip you read in People magazine with someone who wants to talk about advances in quantum physics then you are both going to feel bored, lonely and isolated. This is not a “good guy”, “bad guy” scenario; an open mind understands that everything is interesting if approached with genuine curiosity.
So is your boredom a deal-breaker?
Obviously, sometimes it is. For example, if your spouse shows no interest in your interests while rambling on and on about their own, that is unhealthy and imbalanced and no way to live. And PULEEZE don’t tell me you “LOVE” each other.
There is nothing more childish than an adult who throws the word “love” at a situation that is clearly anything but. Love is acceptance, warts (and boring interests) and all. Anyone who only wants to carve out the perceived “good” or “acceptable” parts of you to interact with DOES NOT LOVE YOU.
They are tolerating you, and everyone deserves better than that.
Meanwhile, if you are tolerating someone yourself? The question you have to ask yourself is WHY? Why are you settling for a half-life with someone who does not inspire you to be your best self?
The bottom line is that you have to ask yourself one critical question: is this relationship undermining me and my life-goals? That is much more important than whether or not you are experiencing transient boredom. If you are with someone who doesn’t stimulate your soul and mind and encourage your dreams (and/or vice versa) then that relationship is NOT a “keeper”.
While boredom is a natural and healthy part of life that encourages us to dig deeper and access our inner resources, neglect and abuse are not. If you are with someone who makes you feel “less than” or discourages your dreams, then it is time for you to break free. Conversely, if you are relying on a spouse to entertain, coddle or enable you, you are imprisoning the both of you.
Marriage should never feel like a prison sentence. A truly great relationship is always built on mutual trust and respect and inherent in these two things is always freedom. If the two of you respect and trust each other, then the possibilities for your life both as a couple and as individuals are literally limitless.
More from Kara Post-Kennedy on Medium:
Where Is the Gender Divide When It Comes to Forgiveness?
Do we understand the fine line between forgiveness and enabling?
Unselfish Love: Romantic or Unhealthy?
Anyone who requires you to give up what you love for “love” does not love the REAL YOU.
About Kara Post-Kennedy
Kara is an executive editor and columnist at The Good Men Project; a blogger at YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND (http://karapostkennedy.blogspot.com/) and Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kara-postkennedy/) former Editor in Chief at OTV Magazine and current managing editor at Heart and Humanity magazine. a Mom. You can follow me on Twitter @kpk_newbf
The story was previously published on The Good Men Project.