Relationship Connection: My wife and I have nothing in common

Stock image | Photo by Noel Hendrickson/DigitalVision, St. George News

Question

My wife and I didn’t have a lot in common when we married, but we loved each other and had a good friendship. We figured marriage would work out because we got along so well, and lots of people told us that good marriages happen when the couple are good friends. We’ve been married for about seven years now and struggle to find things to do together that we enjoy.

When we were dating and engaged, we mostly just hung out at our different houses, went out to eat and did stuff together around town. We’ve got small kids now, and we are home a lot more but don’t like the same TV shows, music, movies and so on. It’s really hard to find things we can enjoy together and mostly end up doing our own separate things in the evenings when the kids are down.

We aren’t in crisis or on the verge of divorce or anything, but we’re both wondering how to get back our spark and fun we had in our marriage.

Answer

I want to commend you for reaching out for help before things reach a crisis level in your marriage. You’re wise to see the early signs of disconnection between you and your wife and take action to correct it.

Please know that what you’re experiencing is completely normal, even for couples that have similar interests. The marriage and family lifecycle goes through multiple stages of change, including periods of distance. Even though you may not agree on what to watch on TV, it’s important for you to both agree on making your marriage a priority.

You’re in a physically challenging stage of marriage and family life. Late nights, early mornings, interrupted sleep, constant interruptions and very little adult conversation are the norm. It’s easy for the marriage to take a backseat during these years because of the relentless demands of small children. Even though you are both completely committed to your young children, it’s easy to fall into a family-centric pattern that ignores the marriage.

Doing things with your kids is certainly more convenient and less expensive than finding babysitters, but you both need regular experiences feeling like a husband and wife instead of only a father and mother. In fact, you’ll be a stronger father and mother when you strengthen your roles of husband and wife. You can still be family-focused when you are marriage-centric, but it’s easy to forget the marriage when you only focus on the kids.

Because you’re so physically drained at the end of each day, it’s easy to slip into isolated patterns of self-soothing through screen time, books or other personal interests. You may crave some alone time without any interruptions, even if those interruptions are from your spouse. The hyperstimulation of life with small children can make solitary confinement seem like a dream.

It’s good to have a balance of alone time, couple time and family time. You can support each other in your alone time by taking turns and letting the other really enjoy distraction-free time earlier in the day or evening when you actually have energy to do something.

It takes discipline to take back your marriage from the pull of numbing isolation. You may think you’re coping, but too much isolation will actually drain life from you and make it harder to feel rejuvenated.

You’re an individual, a spouse and a parent. Make sure you honor each role in your life. You will spend the most time with your children, especially when they’re little, but you’ll be surprised how some alone time and couples time can help you recharge. You don’t need much time alone or together to make a difference. Just make sure you’re building it into your schedule.

It’s also important to mention the need for good friendships. When you’re dating, it’s easy to believe that your spouse will meet all of your emotional needs. Even though a strong marriage is based on a deep friendship, your friendships with other men and your wife’s friendships with other women can be a deeply satisfying source of strength, fun and support.

You’re wondering how to spend your evenings. I recommend you turn off your screens, plan a date with your wife and make some deliberate decisions about how you’ll spend your downtime. Build in a balance of solo, couples, family and friend time so you can meet all of these different needs. Your marriage will feel more like a source of rejuvenation if you both come to the marriage as whole people connected to yourself, others and your children.

If you want to find common interests, then use your dates or evenings to try new things. Get creative and see if you can discover things you enjoy. Even if you never find something you both love, you’ll enjoy the journey of discovery. You’ll make good memories as you try things and learn together.

You don’t have the benefits of the drug-like high of infatuation that is part of young love. Infatuation will make any activity seem totally interesting, which is why you didn’t really care if you had common interests when you were dating. Now is a time to stop chasing that high and find ways to learn and grow together as individuals and especially as a couple so you can offer yourselves and your children a strong foundation of connection.

Stay connected!

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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9 Comments

  • Anon September 19, 2018 at 9:09 am

    So find something you both like and do it together. Take a class together. Play a sport together. You have the opportunity to find something you both like and grow together with it. What is something that you both have always wanted to do? Skydiving? Geocaching? Ballroom dancing? Karaoke? Magic tricks? The world is your oyster! Explore it together.

  • Hataalii September 19, 2018 at 9:34 am

    Year seven is perhaps the most dangerous year of marriage! By the time year seven rolls around, you both have settled in to a routine. It seems as if there is nothing new or exciting any more. It’s not unusual for one or both of you to ask yourself “is this all there is?”
    As Geoff said, this is a time that you need to make time for your marriage. Leave the kids with a mature sitter for the night at least every few months. Take your spouse out for the night. A dinner at a favorite restaurant, a show, (there are many types of shows, concerts or even sports events in our area,) followed by a night at a nice hotel will give you a nice break, without breaking the bank.
    This can give your marriage a boost and be a good stimulant for both of you. You don’t have to leave town for this, it’s all here, close at hand. Make sure the sitter has your cellphone number, then relax and enjoy yourselves.

  • ladybugavenger September 19, 2018 at 10:26 am

    I’ve been with my husband for 16 years. We do not have alot in common, we both like to eat though lol. In fact, we are opposites. However, we do have TV shows that we watch together. But, I let him pick the movies, I fall asleep anyways lol And we CDC annof work together on the same task that is a no, no lol once we learned that around year 7, it’s been smooth sailing

    I hope y’all can find the humor in your differences.

  • comments September 19, 2018 at 11:57 am

    “but we’re both wondering how to get back our spark and fun we had in our marriage.”

    Why do I get the feeling he’s talking about the sex with this statement. You’ve been married for quite awhile. That new and exciting spark probably will not be coming back. Maybe you can try bdsm or some other kink. That seems to work for some couples, at least for awhile.

    • ladybugavenger September 19, 2018 at 11:48 pm

      Oh that spark.
      Kiss it goodbye! The newness is over Lol

  • Striker4 September 19, 2018 at 3:18 pm

    Remember what you read here is nothing but opinions and that’s all it is…get professional assistance

    • comments September 19, 2018 at 4:01 pm

      Are you the professional they need, Dump? lol

    • Anon September 19, 2018 at 4:37 pm

      Rude for rude’s sake. Fishing for an argument. Go troll elsewhere, if you please.

  • Diana September 26, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    Treat yourself and your wife on a vacation for two. A better cure is a romantic getaway.

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