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relational rut busters

“I don’t know if I have anything left.” She wiped away the tears rolling down her cheek. “Whenever I think about how we used to be, I’m sad because I just don’t know if we can get back there again. I’m running out of hope, and that scares me. I think about the good times we used to have together as a couple, and it seems so distant and almost surreal because of all of the arguing and hurts that have built up in recent months. I never imagined that we would be at this point. I just wish I knew how to get back to a happy place.”

Sue is a mother of two elementary aged children, her husband Ed has a successful career, and they live in a home others would love to call their own. It seems they stay in a hectic state, and their schedule leaves them exhausted at the end of most days, with little left for each other. When they try to talk about life beyond the grocery list, it often turns into an argument, each feeling attacked or criticized.

As I talked with Sue, I shared it seems like they had fallen into a relational pattern that felt like a rut they might not be able to climb out of. In fact, this is all too common and can happen in the best marriages.

The good news is there is a way out. Here are a half dozen “relationship rut busters” I thought of, and I’d love to know what’s worked for you.

Relational Rut Busters

1. Call a H.A.L.T.
If one of you is Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired, it can’t go well from that point. Ask calmly and lovingly for a time out until a better time. Reassure your partner you’re not rejecting or discounting their feelings, you’re looking to protect the “team” from further harm.

2. Make a list of your partner’s great qualities that attracted you in the first place.
Then share it with them.

3. Instigate a six second hug in the morning and another in the evening.
John Gottman, a renowned relationship expert says this can go along way. Blame Gottman if your partner is hesitant.

4. Say thank you more often.
All of us enjoy being appreciated. I’ll bet you can find some things you’ve taken for granted in your partner.

5. Make time to look into each other’s eyes.
We feel honored when our partner looks intently into our eyes when we are sharing, no matter what the topic.

6. Share a laugh at least once a day.
YouTube has a lot to choose from. Make it a fun game to discover something to share that causes your partner to smile or laugh.

Life is too short. Be intentional.


Rev. Greg Griffin is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and Forgiveness Coach in private practice in Marietta, GA. His specialty is relationship repair and rescue- helping partners, spouses, and parents and their adolescents. He’s also the author of Dungeon Times Survival Guide, and Vital Faith.

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