The Biggest Marriage Rut-Buster

Kick back and be a team — without worries about the kids, the bills, the house or anything else

by Lisa Ferrari | Updated 12 Jan 2017 at 6:36 AM

Most Americans spend at least several hours a day on leisure and sports activities, personal interests, and hobbies, according to a recent study by the U.S. Census Bureau. But are we doing those things alone or with friends — and without our spouses?

I have learned, in my own marriage, that time spent doing something fun, relaxing, or educational with my spouse is incredibly important. Whether it’s ballroom dancing, target practice, working, out or volunteering — do it as a team. For my husband and me, exploring a new hobby turned into a lifelong passion that created deeper bonds between us.

In other words — beware the mundane in any romantic relationship.

"It is too easy to stop 'dating' your husband," a divorced mom of two from North Shore, Massachusetts, told LifeZette. "The only things you share become the chores and details of the family — talking or arguing about bills and schedules, caring for kids and in-laws. If I could say one thing to couples, it would be, 'Get out there and bowl, take a walk, enjoy a meal — anything you can do together. And promise not to argue.'"

Independence in marriage is healthy — yet too much can be a minefield.

Related: Marital Hotheads — Cool It!

"When husbands and wives get too caught up in 'doing their own thing,'" writes Greg Smalley in Focus On the Family, "they are missing out on critical opportunities to connect with one another. Developing common interests and hobbies can decrease conflict in marriage and strengthen the team. Having common hobbies can help couples deepen their sense of intimacy, connection, and especially friendship."

For my husband and me, it's the adventure of horse ownership. We own two horses, and ride together, care for them, and talk about them. No one knows them and loves them like we do.

Checklist: Lives Too Separate?
  • Use separate bedrooms.
  • Do not engage in romantic intimacy.
  • Don't shop for spouse's food, prepare his/her meals, or shop for his/her clothing and other necessities.
  • Don't eat meals together, except for special occasions.
  • Cease socializing together.
  • Do not attend church together.

I have been in love with horses since I can remember — my mother put me on a horse when I was two and swears that started my love affair. My husband, Nuno, had never ridden a horse until he accompanied me on my yearly birthday ride — my gift to myself.

I thought he'd say no to my invitation. He had never mentioned horses at all. To my surprise he said, "Sure!" We found out that he is a natural rider — and loved it.

After the lesson, the instructor mentioned the barn had a horse for sale. Would we be interested in seeing him? Can't hurt to look, right? One day later we owned a beautiful 14-year old quarter horse named An Obvious Gentleman, or Gent.

After sharing Gent for about three months, we acquired our second horse, Bella. Riding together is now a full-blown passion and consumes all of our free time. Not only are we bonded in the enjoyment of riding — we're also bonded in caring for these magnificent creatures.

"My husband and I began ballroom dancing together in our early seventies, and it was wonderful."

The other side of this hobby, or any hobby, is the amazing friends you make who share your passion. My "horse friends" are some of our closest friends. We were all drawn together by our animals, and we stay together through enduring friendship.

No matter how long you've been married, a new shared interest reveals things about your partner.

"My husband and I began ballroom dancing in our early 70s, and I learned he didn't attend one prom in high school — he was always too busy working," Jean Purcell, of Columbia, Maryland, told LifeZette. "Our big dance at the end of our lessons provided a real opportunity to share our own 'prom' together. What a night it was, swirling around the floor."

In a marital crisis, or just a rut? Try doing something different together. It could be the best leisure hours you've ever spent together — or separately.

Lisa Ferrari is a freelance writer from Nottingham, New Hampshire.

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  2. #wife
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