What to Do When Your Marriage Feels … Boring

Old book in library with open textbook, stack piles of literature text archive on reading desk, and blur aisle of bookshelves in school study class room background for education learning concept

Unless you’re Belle from Beauty and the Beast, you probably don’t connect “intimacy, passion, connection” with “reading a book.” But today’s post from Gary Thomas makes a compelling case that sometimes that’s exactly what your marriage needs. Check out his challenge at the end – would you be willing to try it?

My son is getting two masters’ degrees at Harvard. Lisa says I shouldn’t tell people that because it sounds like I’m bragging but it’s relevant to the point I’m about to make, so please forgive me. Graham was visiting during a vacation and I noticed he was reading a pretty lengthy history book that didn’t seem like it would fit into either one of his Harvard programs. “What’s up with that, bud?” I asked.

Harvard gets amazing guest lecturers. Business tycoons and titans, former and even occasionally current heads of state, cabinet members, religious leaders, etc., take turns pouring out their wisdom, so Graham has heard from plenty of the “best and the brightest.” Here’s his reply: “I found out that all the super-successful people have one thing in common: they read lots of books and watch little television.”

Charlie Munger, co-Founder (with Warren Buffet) of Berkshire Hathaway recently said, “In my life I have known no wise people who don’t read all the time. None. Zero.”

It may sound self-serving as a writer to talk about the need to read, but I hope this blog post will make doing so sound practical.

In life and marriage it’s inevitable that we occasionally hit the “doldrums.” It’s not that things are really bad, it’s just that they become irritating. We find ourselves getting upset at the silliest things and there’s a constant air of frustration in the wind. One wife described her horror when she realized that even the sound of her husband’s voice set her teeth on edge. She just wanted him to go away!

I’ve found that when life and marriage approaches these seasons, I need to double down on spiritual recalibration. Our walk with God is the foundation out of which love and life flows. Sometimes, rather than address a depressing attitude, frustration with children, or irritation with a spouse head on, I just need to focus more intensely on God.

Romans 12:2 calls us to be transformed by the “renewing of our minds” so that’s where I like to start—renewing my mind with some intentional reading and less screen time.

If you’ve found yourself in a season where life just isn’t clicking, evaluate whether you’ve fallen into a lot of screen time and little or no page time. Determine to renew your mind and thus renew your life.

Prayerfully consider setting aside a month to pursue two tracks: thoughtful books that help you think about the things of God in the morning, and thoughtful books that can rejuvenate your marriage in the evening. Cut screen time down to a bare minimum—maybe thirty minutes at most, or sixty if you just can’t help yourself. Get up a little earlier to read by yourself for thirty minutes. Carve out time in the evening to read together for thirty minutes. Resolve to do this for a month to give it a chance to succeed. Once you get your mind working in the right direction, it’s amazing how much of life falls into place.

Sixty minutes a day for a month isn’t much, but it’ll pay amazing dividends.

Read Next on Thriving Marriages  The 3 Biggest Obstacles to a Healthy Marriage, and the Tools To Overcome Them

Here are some suggestions for the “things of God” morning readings:

Dallas Willard

            The Spirit of the Disciplines

            Renovation of the Heart

            The Great Omission

N.T. Wright

            After You Believe

            Surprised by Hope

Bob Sorge

            Secrets of the Secret Place

 Gary Thomas

            Thirsting for God

            Authentic Faith

            Holy Available

 For the marriage evening readings, focus on books that give you an overall view of marriage, not just the “how to.”

Tony Evans

            The Kingdom Marriage

Timothy Keller

            The Meaning of Marriage

Winston Smith

           Marriage Matters

Sheila Gregoire

           Nine Thoughts that Can Change Your Marriage

Gary Thomas

           Sacred Marriage

           A Lifelong Love

           Cherish

If you want an extraordinary life and marriage, you can’t keep doing what everyone else does—tire yourself out trying to keep up with the latest Netflix or HBO hits. Lisa and I both enjoy our favorite series, but we also recognize it’s far too easy to let screen time grow and page time shrink, so this is just a friendly reminder to put “two and two” together: if things aren’t “clicking,” if a persistently sour attitude is hard to shake, if you feel frustrated with God and your spouse, resolve to deal with the disease and not just the symptoms. Do something different by cutting down on the screen time, recalibrating your mind, and reading more.

If you want an “average” walk with God and an “average” marriage, just keep doing what the average individual or couple does. If you want to reach a bit higher, resolve to do something different. If you’re like me, you’ll find that when you do, the atmosphere in your mind, home and marriage will start to get much, much sweeter.

This blog is not written for women in abusive marriages. The advice offered in these posts will challenge both husbands and wives, but the advice could be counter-productive if it is applied in an abusive relationship.