Boredom can mean different things for different relationships. Sometimes, boredom may simply be the absence of novelty. However, at other times boredom can be a blanket emotion that is actually covering up underlying anxiety in a relationship. Dr. David Hauser, PhD, psychologist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, is available to comment on issues of boredom facing long-term relationships.
“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,” says Dr. Hauser. “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. However, the most successful partnerships realize that their relationship with their partner is the fuel that provides them energy to more fully attend to these other important caretaking roles in life.”
Dr. Hauser states that this fact 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.
“There is a false notion that you are ‘not supposed to have fun’ as an adult,” says Dr. Hauser. “Yes, may be 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.”
Dr. Hauser recommends the following tips for long-term couples as they deal with issues of 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 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.
To speak with Dr. Hauser or to learn more about The Family Institute at Northwestern University, contact Colleen O’Connor, Content & Grant Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-609-5300 ext. 485.
ABOUT THE FAMILY INSTITUTE AT NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY – For 45 years, The Family Institute at Northwestern University (www.family-institute.org) has been committed to strengthening and healing families from all walks of life through clinical service, education and research. An affiliate of Northwestern University, The Family Institute is a unique, innovative not-for-profit organization, governed by its own independent Board of Directors and responsible for its own funding. The Institute offers a wide range of high quality mental health counseling through our staff practice and our sliding-fee scale Bette D. Harris Family and Child Clinic, where we are committed to serving at-risk, under-resourced communities. The Family Institute also operates two nationally-renowned graduate programs in marriage and family therapy and counseling psychology in affiliation with Northwestern University, and conducts cutting edge research projects that lead to a better understanding and treatment of mental health issues.