Dealing with apathy in your relationship
Some people say they never expected the A word to show up in their marriage, but I was given plenty of warning. I really should not be surprised. My parents suffer from an apathetic marriage. I knew my husband was generally apathetic as a person. But for some reason, apathy snuck up and took residency in my marriage.
Apathy as I am using it, refers to lack of interest or lack of emotion. Being apathetic isn't all bad. For instance being apathetic about Star Wars versus Star Trek. Or maybe about wall sconces vs floor lamps. Not everything has to matter to everybody. But when apathy becomes part of a relationship, there is a problem.
Apathy results from a combination of things: routine and boredom.
I've never been a fan of routine, I like to live foot loose and fancy free. However life as an adult does not allow a routine free life. I must go to work five days a week. I must pay rent on the first of the month. My husband likes routine and is not very fond of change. Or at least he hasn't provided me with evidence to the contrary.
Routine is seen as good for a marriage but once there is no variety and everything is predictable, then routine has taken over and boredom begins to set in.
As someone that doesn't like routine. I get bored easily.
Boredom is really similar to apathy. Boredom means you are not interested in what you are doing or the options you have to do.
To fight apathy, you first have to do an assessment to determine if apathy has already hit.
I knew apathy had set in when I had to bribe my husband to play mini golf with me. I really wanted to do something fun with my husband. I knew we had a mini golf course close to the house. I also knew that the number of sunny days ahead was limited. Rainy season is approaching. So I wanted to play mini golf. Long story short, the only way I was able to get my husband to play was to promise he could make his very unhealthy (and gross tasting in my opinion) sausage dinner.
For those of you that are unsure if apathy is a problem, you should ask yourself a few questions.
Does the idea of going on a date with your significant other bother you because you don't think it would be fun?
Do you have anything to talk about with each other?
Do you prefer to spend your time alone or with other people besides each other?
If you have apathy issues or if you want to avoid apathy, the next step is to come up with some ideas.
Make a list of things you can do together. Maybe a romantic night away. Or a night in playing games. Dinner out. The more ideas the better.
I know that my husband and I both like food. So when we can, we go out to dinner together. Granted we usually look at our iPhones until the food arrives, but that is a different problem for a different day. I thought about an anniversary trip to spend time together in a beautiful place, eating good food, and relaxing. He said he would go, but I'm pretty sure he wants a new Xbox instead. I'll keep you updated.
It would be best for both of you to contribute to a list of things to do together.
Now I don't plan on telling my husband we have an apathy problem just yet. I am going to try and work on it and if it doesn't get better in a couple of months then I will tell him. You may find being more direct to be better. I think it depends on the individual and your specific relationship.
The talking about apathy is probably going to be the hardest part. It could be mutual. Or the feeling could be one sided. Either way it is important to not make the discussion hostile or to blame the other person.
If the apathy is mutual. Recognize that you both need to work on the relationship Don't try to argue with how they feel or try and tell them how they feel. We can never really know what the other is really feeling. You can explain how you feel, but try to avoid a the blame game. Easier said than done, I know.
It is possible for apathy to be mutual and one party might not recognize it . I know I feel apathetic. I also know I feel like my husband appears to be apathetic to me. But he might not be or he might not realize that he is feeling apathy. Or he could be apathetic to his apathy. Which would be bad.
With one sided apathy, things can be equally tricky. Less so if you are the one that is apathetic and have recognized it. But if you feel you partner is the apathetic one, be careful with how you continue. It generally is not a good idea to accuse someone of not caring. This is where the I feel statements become important. Actually I recommend I feel statements for both mutual and one sided apathy.
I have had the I feel statement not go so well. I've told my husband I feel such and such. Then he says he is sorry I feel that way.... not that he is sorry. So it is a work in progress. But generally, I feel statements are better than you statements. An example: I feel like you don't want to... versus You don't want to.....
I really hope that this article helps some of you that are struggling with apathy in your relationship.