My phone alarm chimed. Without opening my eyes, I could sense my husband, Derek, was still asleep next to me. I would be the first to get up this morning, just like I do every morning. I knew he’d wake half an hour later and drive our oldest child to middle school, taking the same route he does every day. He’d come home, and we’d have coffee with cream — and the same daily clothing battles with our other three girls. Then we’d race out the door, each taking a kid or two to school, him to the elementary school and me to the preschool. Today looks a lot like yesterday. And tomorrow doesn’t promise to be much different.
The routine of our shared life can start to creep into boring as we go through the ordinary, familiar motions of daily tasks. We are creatures of habit, and some of us thrive in structure, but the boring zone can be dangerous for a marriage. It can lead to disappointment and dissatisfaction. These feelings can turn to resentment and anger because our ordinary is not more extraordinary. How can we actively fight the mindset of dissatisfaction and relish each day God has given us together? It can be as simple as mixing things up.
Rearrange the routine
Change the route you to drive to work, when you call your own parents, where you go to eat after church. It doesn’t matter what it is, if you simply rearrange when you do certain tasks, all of the must-do’s can seem a little less mundane. From your bedroom décor to your meal-planning routine, try moving things around. Mixing it up usually doesn’t cost more time or money than you were already going to spend. It simply keeps life pointed toward interesting.
Try something new
Back in the days of dating, everything felt exciting. Making dinner together or going on a road trip together was fun. Even going to the grocery store together felt adventurous. Because it was all new.
Since that time, you’ve covered a lot of ground in your married years. Most of your days are filled with things you’ve done over and over again, but simply trying new things together can refresh the years ahead of you. It can be something formal, like a fitness class, or informal, like tackling a home-improvement project. Just make sure the never-been-done-before factor is there.
Surprise each other
Nothing adds adventure to life like the unexpected. Although we all have different tolerance levels for a surprise, any level helps to keep things exciting in marriage. It can be a surprise for the two of you in the middle of the routine: a breakfast out, a late-night candlelight dinner at home after the kids are in bed, or a text message in the middle of the day to simply say what you loved about your spouse in the last 24 hours. But the surprise can be a gift for your husband or wife, too: washing and vacuuming his or her car, making plans for your spouse to see a friend, or delivering a special treat for no reason. Unexpected gifts fight boredom.
Spend 24-hours away from home
When we think about adventures, we often think big vacations or long treks. Getting away as a couple — locally — can be more realistic and meet the same need. You can see your hometown with new eyes when you stay in a hotel, but more importantly, you can see your spouse with new eyes if you change up the surroundings. For this reason, make sure this is an out-of-your-home kind of staycation. You don’t want the laundry that needs to be folded staring you down. You need total freedom to relax with each other without the normal distractions of everyday life.
Take a risk
From the big to the little, risk-taking is at the heart of adventure. This doesn’t have to be an adrenaline-inducing or dangerous activity. A risk simply means no guarantee in the outcome. From hosting an outdoor party when the weather is uncertain to something more mission-based, such as leading a small group from your church, the range of risk-taking in marriage can be wide. Start small and ask God to help you move toward big. Following God’s lead together can bring shared purpose and intimacy to your relationship.
Ask God for new eyes
No amount of planning for adventure can offer a shift in perspective like when God intervenes. If the mundane is setting the tone in your marriage, ask God to help you see your life and the gifts He has provided with a fresh mindset and appreciation. The best way to value this life and your spouse is gratefulness. Ask God for an outlook of gratitude for each task, responsibility and detail of your life.
The ordinary lives we lead are full of good gifts from God. When we do our creative best with the life we’ve been given to share with our spouse, we join God in the adventure He has set before us.
Alexandra Kuykendall is the author of Loving My Actual Life: An experiment in relishing what’s right in front of me.