What we talk about is … boring

This letter is long, but it was so relatable that I didn’t want to cut it too much (a longer read for a Friday).

This is a great time to send me your questions about marriage, long-term relationship issues, routines, and figuring out what’s next.

What’s on your mind about your relationship life? Submit an anonymous letter here or email
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My wife and I have been married for a long time. I love my wife. She loves me. I love everything about her. I would describe in great specificity all the many reasons why and how, but that may spoil anonymity as I know she sometimes reads this column.

Here’s the thing. We know everything about each other. And we’re tired and busy, both of us with demanding jobs and a child to take care of. So we rarely have time for a date night. And when we *do* have time for a date night, we don’t really feel like talking about the normal stuff – job, the kid, whatever, because it’s just too … boring. I try talking about other things – potential travel, movies, books, or “would you rather…” conversation starters. Or the thing we just saw at date night. That works, to a point. We used to have big questions to chew on (should we get married, should we have a kid, should we try to buy a house…) but we’ve done all those things now. I try to think of inventive things to discuss – or intelligent things to get our minds churning. But to be honest, I am not really surprised by her answers or questions, and oftentimes the conversation just dwindles. I suspect she’s not particularly surprised by my questions or answers. There’s not much surprise anywhere.

I want the romance back! I want to have conversation that flows! Conversation like we used to have where we’re talking over one another a little because there’s so much energy there! I want, in short, passion!

There are things I could do to make myself more attractive to her, and I’m trying on that front (exercise and the like). My assumption is that if I were more passionate, she would be more passionate. The truth is, it’s hard. Work, kid, life…not enough hours in the day… you know the drill.

I know this is common. Especially at this time in our life (let’s just say we have a moderate case of being middle age).

I am writing with several questions. Question One: Couples therapy? Is that for us? My personal guess is that we don’t need therapy. We need lives outside of work and family to report back on. I don’t think we need yet one more appointment to go to, but rather free time to be independent, to then excitedly talk about what we did in our free time – or more vacation, or something like that. But I’m willing to consider it.

Question two: Obviously, I get that this isn’t the most original question. So, what works to make it through this time in our lives? Especially with limited hours? Maybe throw it to the readers – I’m open to crowdsourcing ideas. Maybe other people will have thoughts on things I wouldn’t have considered.

Question three: What if I just shared these questions (and/or your response) to her to prompt a reaction? On the one hand, it’s not like it would be a surprise to say that our relationship lacks energy, but maybe it would be a jolt to get us out of our humdrum ways?

On the other hand, I don’t want her thinking I am just totally bored with our relationship. I don’t want to hurt her feelings. For her, I think if I came to her and said I am really wanting more passion what can I/we do to make that happen, she would re-interpret that as “oh great, one more thing we have to worry about.” (Also, I hope she wouldn’t feel hurt that I am going to a relationship advice columnist…I don’t *think* she would, but one never really does know, necessarily?)

Again, I love my wife. Deeply. My fear is that she’s bored, I’m bored, she’s tired, I’m tired, and I don’t want fatigue and dullness to ruin the other many wonderful things we have together.

–Pursuit of Passion (Pop)


I’m not sure how your wife would feel about you writing to me, so maybe don’t lead with that. (If you’re the wife in question and have already recognized yourself, please know … your spouse has good intentions here! What a thing to talk about!) 

I do think you can tell her that you wish you had more exciting things to say to each other. It’s a great idea to acknowledge all that she does and to ask her how the two of you can make room for more – so you don’t lose yourselves in the routine. 

I love your idea about having independent experiences so there’s new information to share. Offer that as a suggestion. Can you can take on some of her responsibilities so she can go out and have a separate life? Are there clubs she’d join? Friends she’d see? Give her that option.

There’s also a lot of joy and excitement in having something to look forward to. Can you plan a real, on-the-books, not-just-theoretical vacation for three months from now? It would involve a lot of logistics (all worth chatting about). You’d have to google things like cool restaurants. I think a real trip – as opposed to hypothetical travel ideas – could be nice.

I pitch this a lot, but for those of us who like to be indoors, there’s television. I’m watching the new season of “Fargo” and it feels like appointment programming I can talk about. Also, I love making my way through a critic’s list and debating it. (I think Matthew Gilbert is a third party from afar in many relationships between Globe subscribers.) To me, good storytelling is better than a forced question prompt. 

Also, see friends together. Even if it’s a Zoom. So much of connecting involves talking about other people (it can be in a nice way).

I see your point about counseling, and I do think you’re right. The time spent in an office might be better used at a movie theater or museum.

Talk to her about the issue and ask her what she thinks. Yes, there might be some hurt feelings and frustration, but you can work through all that and land somewhere better.

If you do show her the column, let me know how it goes. I’m very, very curious. It would give me a lot to talk about.

– Meredith

Readers? Ideas for improving connection and conversation during a period of life when everything is boring and routine? Would you use the letter to start a conversation?

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