How to Get Your Marriage Out of a Rut

Amanda Elder


My husband and I have been married for four-and-a-half years. Within this time, we’ve lived in two countries, three states, and about seven different homes together (thank you med school). We also threw two children into the madness, and, aside from the crazy closeness of sharing a journey and beautiful little beings, you know what results? The irritability of settling in. To new neighborhoods, houses, roles, and responsibilities. The irritability of uncertainty. There’s nothing like packing all your belongings, living out of a suitcase, and traveling with children to make you hate the way someone chews their food and breathes their air.

Wedding vows always include sentiments about sticking together through the good times and bad, except on your wedding day it’s hard to imagine what The Bad Times might be. It’s impossible to feel how tough trudging through shit will be, and how often you might feel like picking that shit up and throwing it at the person whose hands you’re holding at the altar. You know there will be disagreements, but you might not see those disputes stringing together and putting your relationship in an infuriating rut. When my husband and I have fights, they tend to not last an hour, but days or weeks. It takes effort to break the cycle of frustration and hurt. It takes effort and some humility to press the reset button.

My husband’s best attempt at mending things is to make a joke, which rarely goes over well. C’mon, I’m from Venus, and after arguments I’m fragile. I don’t want to laugh at the situation or myself. I want to be held and have my hair stroked. My Martian wants to brush things off with a laugh, and I get mad. Then he gets mad that I’m mad and neither of us feels loved and appreciated. We end up wanting to withdraw, which is my specialty. When I’m mad I don’t talk or even look at my husband because 1.) I don’t want intimacy, 2.) I want to punish him with my distance, and 3.) If I do catch his eye he might actually succeed in making me laugh and then I won’t be able to take myself so seriously anymore.

Relationships ruts are real, and it can be hard to get unstuck. Here are my tried-and-true methods for getting on a smoother road again:

1.) Touch. Despite the coldness you want your partner to feel, let your guard down and touch him. When he walks in the door from work, grab his hands and kiss him. Put your head on his shoulder while you are watching TV or wrap your arms around him when he’s pouring his coffee. Physical closeness creates emotional closeness. Come out from your cave and touch your man.

2.) Talk. Not about your relationship problems, your responsibilities, or the bills. Put your issues aside for a while and just talk for the sake of sharing and connecting. Call him just to tell him something funny that happened. When he’s home, give him 10 minutes of your attention without also looking at your phone or computer.

3.) Appreciate. It’s so easy to focus on the ways our husbands lack. We could bitch about our men sitting in the recliner while we clean the mess from dinner, but that doesn’t change the situation. What motivates is recognition and praise. Give these to your man, and he will be more inclined to do things to please you. Notice the good in him and thank him. You will find yourself more appreciated, too.

4.) Trust. Even though your man is capable of being a total a-hole and a selfish man-child, believe that his intentions are good. Nobody is perfect, but trust that he wants you to be happy. He’s not out to get you, and he doesn’t want to take advantage of you. Although he sucks sometimes, he loves you.

When you do these four things, resolving conflict, reaching agreements, and pressing the reset button will be easier. Trust me, I’ve been there.




Wedding vows always include sentiments about sticking together through the good times and bad, except on your wedding day it's hard to imagine what The Bad Times might be.

This post was written by Amanda Elder exclusively for BonBon Break Media LLC.

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Amanda Elder is a teacher turned stay-at-home mom to two boys and wife of a resident doctor in Orlando, FL. When she isn't playing with trains, doing dishes, or having sword fights, she is writing. Her work has been published by Scary Mommy, Blunt Moms, In the Powder Room, Sammiches and Psych Meds, and Mamalode. Learn more about her at Stay at Home Panda.