Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Breaking Out of a Rut Can Save Your Relationship or Marriage

Readers frequently talk about “getting into a rut,” whether it’s personal, at work, or in their relationship. What do you do?

I’ve alluded to this problem on occasion, but never really addressed it because the solution has always been so obvious to me, but judging by the number of e-mails I’ve received on the subject, apparently it’s not so obvious for everyone else: How to deal with getting into – and especially OUT OF – a rut.

For men, getting into a rut is just a little too easy. Where women’s emotional scales (see http://forum.makingherhappy.com/showthread.php/217-Understanding-Our-Emotional-Scales-Another-Key-to-a-Great-Relationship-and-Marriage for explanation) run from zero to infinity, meaning that boredom is as bad as it gets and both positive and negative emotions will often fit the bill equally, our emotional scale runs from negative to positive, with neutral (boredom) being in the middle. We prefer boredom to problems, and our first priority in any crisis is to return things to that boring norm before trying to move on to great things. Indeed, for a significant number of men, success is as undesirable as failure, because it means shaking things up, deviating from the safe zone around boring, and going to what for them is a stressful extreme.

Fortunately, most of us don’t strive to be bored, but for many of us it does have a way of growing comfortable (see the articles on being “comfortably unhappy” in the archive at http://forum.makingherhappy.com/showthread.php/370-Are-You-Happy-or-Comfortably-Unhappy-In-Your-Relationship-or-Marriage-Your-Life-Could-Depend-on-Knowing-the-Difference and http://forum.makingherhappy.com/showthread.php/519-An-Eye-Opening-Confession-About-Bad-Relationships-and-Marriage-from-the-Comfortably-Unhappy to get up to speed on this crucial concept). We fall into habits, and we hold there, taking a break from all the excitement in case we need extra energy to weather some new crisis that may jump up.

Guys, this is bad. If you want to experiment with peace and quiet and find out what words like “solitude” and “mundane” really feel like, plan on doing that during your retirement; it will most likely happen to you then anyway. While you are young and healthy (and by young, I mean any age under 70), habits that make you just cruise along without incident from day to day make you “dry up on the vine.” If you can look at your life over just the last month or two and see yourself doing the same thing every workday during that time, and spending your weekends the same way, like vegetating on the couch in front of the TV with a beer and snacks, you’re killing yourself, and likely damaging your career and your relationship as well.

How?

Glad you asked. ;-) Settling into that kind of routine and creating that kind of comfortable boredom makes you uninteresting, and often will make you unmotivated as well – being bored makes you boring to those around you. If you and three other people are up for a promotion, skills and experience are equal, and you’re boring and the other three are not, who do you think will be the first one dropped from the running just to narrow the focus on the evaluations? You guessed it. And unless you’re brand new to this newsletter, you already know that “boring” is the absolute worst label that a woman can ever put on you, because you are then at the most negative end of her emotion meter. If this is you, what do you do?

Break out! Do something different; not necessarily dangerous, wild, or crazy, but something fun or interesting that you haven’t done recently, or haven’t ever done. I strongly suggest taking on at least one mental and one physical self-improvement project (like taking up Sudoku, logic problems, speed reading or a foreign language to stimulate your brain and losing 5-10 pounds or taking up some kind of exercise regimen or sport) to give you a quick self-esteem boost plus a hobby to keep you away from the television – and consequently away from the wuss programming the mainstream media keeps trying to pour down our throats.

It’s a huge bonus if the hobby can be some kind of relationship enhancer, something your partner will see you doing and be stricken with new-found attraction from having seen you exhibiting distinctly male behavior by doing something independent, adventurous, expert, and/or as a leader of others. Flood yourself with new and exciting things to do for a week or two just to see what really grabs your attention and breaks you out of old habits, then stick with the two or three things that really do interest you. That’ll get a personal or even a work slump (with a minor modification) fixed, but what about a rut or slump in your relationship?

Same thing! Mix it up! Shake it up! Do something fun. Go to a new restaurant. Do something neither of you have ever done, or at least never done together. Take up something interesting and invite your partner to join you. Even if they are in the rut with you and resistant to breaking out, there isn’t a woman alive who can see a man having fun without her and not want a piece of the action. If you invite her to do something fun and she declines, do it yourself.

She’ll either join in or you’ll know for a fact that she detests whatever it is you’re doing. Women hate feeling left out of anything that might be even marginally fun, interesting, adventurous, or mysterious! Just keep doing fun and interesting stuff, day after day, big things on some days and smaller things on others (always keep that two-steps-forward-one-step-back tension going), get good at it, gain the confidence that comes from competence in your new pursuits, and she’ll come around pretty quickly. Like I said, there’s not a woman alive that can stand being left out of the fun for very long.

For most people, a great relationship is one of the most rewarding things in life, and devastating when it goes sour. BUT! Getting into a rut doesn’t have to end your relationship, even though it’s the root cause of more break-ups and divorces than anything else; as you’ll see out our forum, http://forum.makingherhappy.com, there’s even a significant body of evidence that it’s a big contributing factor in the onset of female mid-life crisis, the nightmare of nightmares in a marital situation.

It takes being fairly well-matched with a good partner, being able to communicate well with each other (which isn’t easy until you learn the differences in how men and women go about it), and keeping it fresh and fun and the sparks flying. That in turn will make the rest of your life improve, because a happy home life is for many of us the foundation for all other happiness; it makes a great career and everything else much easier to achieve because home-front stresses detract from everything else in your life, robbing you of capacity for and motivation to achieve.

You’ll find that if mama’s happy, everybody’s happy, especially YOU! That’s the cornerstone of the “Making Her Happy” philosophy. When your partner is happy, those wonderfully fun and nurturing things that come naturally for virtually all women get stirred up and she goes on auto-pilot doing the things that make you feel just as wonderful as she does. It’s not hard, and doesn’t involve putting on some act or memorizing a bunch of catchy jokes or lines, just learning a few things about her and yourself and putting them to use. Any man that is worth a hoot for anything can do it, and enjoy doing it as well. All you need is the know-how…

It’s in “THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage,” tried, proven, and ready to work for you. Jump over to http://www.makingherhappy.com/ and download your copy right now, because opportunities like this don’t come along often, and they can disappear in the blink of an eye…

In the meantime, live well, be well, and have a wonderful day!
David Cunningham

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