A Kick in the Ruts

Chris and I are in a rut.   You know the kind.   Where your life consists of getting up, packing your lunch, going to work, coming home, cooking dinner, watching Jeopardy, going to bed.   Getting up, packing your lunch, going to work…   You get the idea.   Yep, we’re in a rut and we’ve been here since probably Christmas.

At first I thought it was the pregnancy, but that’s not it because the most excited we both get is when we talk about the beanie weenie.   And even on days when we don’t really have much to say to each other, we still both talk to the baby.   So, I’m fairly certain this is not a pregnancy-thing.   Plus, when I asked Chris if it was the baby, he said it was hard to blame the Bean for our boredom when all he has to do for 9 months is swim around my uterus.   Point taken.   Its just a good ol’ rut.

I imagine ruts this time of year are pretty common.   You go through the month of December traveling around the country, all doped up on Christmas cookies, and everywhere you go someone gives you a present.   That’s a pretty tough high to come down from.   But January is just the month to do it.   Its so dreary in January.   Christmas lights come down, the weather is no longer “seasonal,” but instead is just plain gross and cold, and you have to start working full weeks at work again.   Sigh.   What a downer.   So, I don’t think there’s anything major going on here other than the fact that we’re in a January rut.

But I’ll be honest with you, I’m just about over it.   I’m getting pissy and snappy and I’m doing what I always do when I’m experiencing anything unpleasant – I blame Chris, of course.   That’s what I did at first.   I just blamed Chris.   He wasn’t talking enough.   He wasn’t doing enough.   He wasn’t making an effort.   But when I thought about it, I wasn’t talking or doing or making an effort either, so its hard to point fingers in this situation.

In the past week, we’ve started actually talking about it and the first thing we pinpointed was that we were both bored.   So, we did things like go out to dinner on a weeknight – big doin’s around theses parts.   We bought tickets to see a Rangers hockey game on a random Tuesday night.   We got tickets to a Broadway show we have been wanting to see.   And that helped a little.   At least we had things to look forward to.   Kind of like rut highlights.   But I think we both knew that wasn’t really fixing anything.   It was just giving us something else to focus on.

Last night, though, I think we hit the rut jackpot.   We had a good date night.   We tried a new Japanese restaurant and went to see a movie.

(Side Bar:   We went to see Revolutionary Road.   If your marriage is in a rut, do not go see this movie.  Actually, you know what?   Don’t go see it at all because I’m sure if your marriage wasn’t in a rut when you walked into that theater, it will definitely be in one when you leave.  Great move, but it makes you want to kill yourself.)

At dinner, we had one of Those Conversations.  You know, the conversations where you have to say intelligent things and actually work through problems.  The kind of conversations where afterwards you hold hands and talk about your wedding day.  Yep.  Those Conversations.  Man, I hate those.  Soul searching has never really been my thing, but if its what it takes to get out of this rut, then I’m in.

I’ll spare you all the nitty gritty details (even though I know those are the ones that are the most fun to hear!!!) and I’ll give you our summary.  From This Conversation, we summarized that at times life is going to get kind of boring.  Sometimes routines are going to become kind of stale.  And the great (or not-so-great) thing about life is that its gonna keep on chugging through those boring details.  Get up, pack your lunch, go to work – all of that is going to happen whether you pay attention to what you are doing or not.

Except your marriage.

You can’t really put your marriage on auto-pilot.  Your marriage isn’t going to just work itself out.  It isn’t going to just randomly add in some spice or excitement.  I’m sure parenting will be the same, but for right now, our marriage is the only thing we have that actually requires active participation.  And its so easy to forget that, isn’t it?  I mean, when everything else becomes routine, its hard to find the motivation to stay excited and involved in the one thing that requires attention.

Its like when I have a day off of work.  My entire schedule is suspended.  No commitments, no reason to check my Blackberry, the day just takes care of itself.  And on these days, I always forget the one thing I actually have to still do – feed my dogs.  They don’t care whether my schedule is the same that day or different.  They still need to be fed.  Well, that’s what a marriage is like too.  Even if your routine requires no thought or interaction from you all day long, your spouse is still going to need you to be attentive.

Now, I’m sure there are a hundred different ways to pull yourself up out of a rut.  Chris and I are fairly easy-going people and so we chose an easy-going solution.  We’re just going to do it.  That’s right.  No big elaborate plan.  No expensive jet-setting adventures to jump start things.  We’re just going to get out of the rut by talking to each other more.  By remembering there is someone else in the room.  By holding hands when we are grocery shopping.  For us, at least, 98% of the problem has already been solved just by agreeing on what the problem has been.  This won’t work for everyone, I’m sure.  But for the two us, that’s all its going to take.   Nothing life changing or demanding.  Just a little extra effort here and there.

So, that’s my marriage confession today.  We are two happy people in a healthy marriage and we’re in a bit of a rut.  And that doesn’t mean our marriage is in trouble or that either of us is to blame.  Ruts happen.  Ruts are not the problem.  The problems come when you choose to not get yourself out of it.

And now I must away…  Part of my obligation to this whole de-rutting thing is fixing chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast.  Dream big, people.


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