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When the thrill is gone...


In Episode 024 of the Naked Proverbs podcast, Rich and Nik Scott share how to get the spark back in your marriage.



Nik:

Welcome back to the Naked Proverbs podcast where we unclothe the truth about Black love family and marriage. My name is Nik Scott, one of your hosts, and I'm here with my husband,

Rich:

What's going on? It's your boy Rich. And today, we're going to talk about ruts in marriage.

Nik:

Right at the beginning of every episode, we always remind our listeners that we are not trained, licensed professional therapists or counselors. We've been married a long time and we use Naked Proverbs as our space to share our stories, our experience, our advice, and as always, our opinions.

Nik:

If you haven't already, make sure you're following the Naked Proverbs on whatever podcasting platform you are listening on. And if you like what you hear, show us your love and support by giving us a five-star rating on iTunes or whatever platform you are listening to right now.

Rich:

As we do every episode, we'd like to take a moment to say thank you. Thank you for tuning in. And we hope to see you again next week.

Rich:

Maybe you've been married a short time. Or maybe you've been married for multiple decades. Either way, at some point, you have either fallen into a rut, or you will fall into a rut in your marriage.

Nik:

I don't know. When we started to talk about what our topic was going to be, and you were like, well, we should talk about rights and marriage. And I said, well, I don't know nothing about that. But then when you think about it, like have there been times in our marriage over almost 19 years we've been married, have there been times where I have felt less connected to you and I would have to say yes.

Rich:

And I think that's what it is like, you know, how do you identify a rut in a marriage? Right? I think it's when everything just becomes routine. When it gets to the point where you don't even have to ask how was your day because you already know exactly what your spouse is going to say. You don't really go on dates anymore because you've got so many things going on. You don't court your spouse anymore. You're not flirting with them. You're just going through the motions. And I think that that is, those are some signs that you might see when your marriage is in a rut.

Nik:

Rut is such a harsh word. I like to think about it a little differently, like I said, in terms of feeling connected to your spouse or people say the spark, I say the flame I'm all about the fire right. Is the fire still going in your marriage? Do you still get by butterflies, when you look at your husband? When he touches you do you still kind of get all tingly? And like, if those things aren't happening, then maybe you aren't as connected. And a lot of times people think that you get in a rut or the connection is, is cut off, or the flame goes out because of a big argument or a disagreement. And that's not always the case.

Rich:

Or I mean, people will think it's something huge right? There was infidelity or, you know, you weren't telling the truth, or there's some big issue. But I think that it's easy to fall in. I like the word rut personally, because I think that, when I think of a rut, I think of me driving my truck.

Nik:

Mm hmm.

Rich:

And so last year when I went hunting, I don't know if I told you the story. We got stuck in a rut and my truck, it's an off road version and it can do a lot. So, we kind of pushed it to its limits to see. So, we decided to go up a mountainside that was covered in snow. And you couldn't see what was up under the snow. No vehicles that driven down this road. I mean, snow was up to the lights, right. And as we're going, I'm like, guys, I don't think this is a good idea. But because I had two of my boys with me, of course, they hyped me up, and we kept going. Next thing I know, we could not go forward anymore. It wasn't because the snow was so deep, but we had fallen into a rut.

Rich:

And to me, that's exactly what happens in marriages, right? You're just driving down the road. Everything seems you know, normal. If you want to call it driving, you know, in four or five feet of snow normal, but it's normal, right? And then all of a sudden, your marriage is like at a standstill or it's not really going forward but it's not going backwards. And to me, that's why I call it a rut. Because ruts can become very dangerous if you don't get out of them.

Rich:

In our situation, we had to put chains on the tires. I mean, we had to, we had to do some pushing, we had to do some forward movement, some backwards movement, some I mean, 17,000 point turn, to get out of the situation we found ourselves in. So, you know, you may not like the word rut, but to me, I understand that a rut can become very dangerous if you don't address it and don't even realize you're in a rut.

Nik:

One thing that I really like about this story, not the fact that you disagree with me, but you said that you and your partners that you were going hunting with, you work together just to get out of the rut. You utilize tools that were accessible and available to you, and maybe tools that you haven't ever had to use before on your truck.

Nik:

So that, to me, is a perfect analogy, and a perfect story to describe what happens in marriage when you do hit a rut. When you do feel disconnected, when the spark is gone. How do you get it back? You work together, you reach for and utilize tools that are accessible to you. And sometimes you haven't used these tools in a long time. And sometimes these tools you've never used.

Rich:

And it may not be comfortable, you know, because as we continue down this analogy, I'm using snow tires that I literally bought the week before we left. None of us had ever put snow tires on, that, you know, in the middle of a storm or in the situation we were in. So, it's like, we didn't really know what we're doing. Somebody had to take control of the situation and we just had to work together to figure it out. Because unfortunately, in this situation, there was a cliff on one side, because that's how it always is. When you're in a rut, there's danger on the left, and there's a big rock that's going to kill you on the right. And you have to figure out how to navigate through the situation without doing more damage. And so, for us, you know, that's what we had to do.

Rich:

And I think like you said, in a marriage, it's the same thing. Really understanding first that you even in a rut. Because I think a lot of times, we can get so used to this is how it is. This is just what marriage is. Marriage is going to work, coming home, having dinner, going to bed, getting up, going to work, coming home, having dinner, watching TV. You know, and people get into that just routine, and they miss out on having a real fulfilling marriage.

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Rich:

You know, it's easy, especially when you have children to have all these, this white noise, all this stuff that has to happen, right? Our kids have to get to practice, our kids need to get toted around, or grocery shopping has to happen. I mean, there's all these little things that have to happen. These aren't, you know, optional, kind of issues. They are true things that have to be addressed. But it can easily cause your marriage to get put on the back burner.

Nik:

I want to take a moment to talk to the new mamas. Because I think that a lot of times where marriages can feel like they're in a rut, or be in a rut is when new life enters into the relationship, whether you gave birth to a child, whether you adopted a child, whether you were forced to take care of someone else's child, that child has to be the priority. The child can't feed themselves, the child can't change their own diapers, the child is basically helpless, can't even move if it's an infant. So, the child has to be a priority. And a lot of times what I see new moms do is they make their children such a priority at that point in time, they totally neglect and forget about the needs of their husbands.

Nik:

And I would encourage new mothers to find a balance, right? When my girls were little when they were smaller and much less independent than they are now, absolutely, they were a priority. And you know what, when my husband was feeling not connected to me, we would have conversations about that. So, a huge way to get out of ruts is

Nik:

A) to recognize it, and

Nik:

B) to have conversations about it. And of course, as I always say, people automatically are going to react and get into their feelings, right? But be open minded enough to understand that this person is coming to you with a concern that they want to work through together.

Rich:

I mean, you're so dead on communication is so important. Because if you're not even going to communicate when you are in a bad situation, you're probably not going to get out of that bad situation.

Rich:

If my friends and I hadn't have been talking through, you know, one person got out, we got the windows all rolled down. Next person gets out, he's in the front one's in the back. Okay, turn left. All right, pull forward just two inches. You know, those strict directions had to be followed, we had to communicate to find a way out of the situation we found ourselves in. It wasn't one person's fault. You know, a lot of times when you get stuck in a rut in a marriage, everybody's looking to blame somebody. Oh, it's your fault. You know, you're always taking care of the kids. Oh, it's your fault. You're always at work, oh, it's your fault. You go to bed too early, whatever. This is not the time to find blame. It's the time to identify that there is an issue. And then you actually have to address it.

Rich:

Because I know even in our marriage, there have been times when we find ourselves in rut, and we avoid really talking about what it really is. It's easy to talk about all the things that have you in the rut, but not actually talk about why you're in the rut. You know, because if you don't want to address why you're in the rut, you're probably gonna end up back in it further on down the road just because you didn't really address it. You are trying to avoid it. Because it's not easy. These conversations aren't the easiest to have sometimes because you do get defensive or you do feel like well, dang, I got this kid, I'm taking care of all day, I've got a job, and I've got this going on and that going on, you want time for me? Like I don't, there's only 24 hours in a day.

Nik:

Communication is huge. Another way to move forward and not stay in that place, is to spend time together. Quality time, right? Sitting on the couch, just staring at TV together, is not spending time together. But making time to connect. Connection is just big with me.

Nik:

How do you connect, you find out what makes your spouse tick. You observe. Sometimes connection and communication isn't always verbal, right? If you're paying attention to your husband, if you're really listening to him, you'll know his likes, you'll know his dislikes, whether or not he's talking directly to you. So, just sit back and observe some of the things that are happening. And that's how you build that connection and start to spend that quality time together.

Rich:

I mean, you have to be creative, because like we just said, there are all these different things that are pulling on our time. But if you really want to have a deeper relationship with your spouse, you have to be creative. So, for my wife and I, you know, it might be us going to yoga class and her laughing at me because I'm really not

Nik:

I don't laugh at you

Rich:

No, but I mean, you could have you should have.

Nik:

No. I appreciated the fact that you were actually in a yoga class and attempting some of those complex, and getting out of someplace that you were comfortable in.

Rich:

I mean, or it could be her, in the past, she's gone fishing with me or camping with me. And I know that that is not something she likes to do. But we were being creative in ways to spend time together so that we could stay connected. And that doesn't always mean you have to do something that elaborate right? It doesn't mean you have to go to the gym with your spouse or you have to go camping or hiking. But it could be something as simple as in the mornings before you get up and start your day. Let's just lay here for five minutes. We're gonna get up five minutes earlier, and we're just gonna hold each other.

Nik:

And not say anything.

Rich:

No words are spoken. We're just gonna hold each other before we let our feet hit the ground. And before we have to face the day.

Nik:

As a matter of fact, Valentine's Day is coming up. And it's actually Super Bowl Sunday

Rich:

Go Chiefs

Nik:

Go Chiefs.

Nik:

Valentine's Day is coming up I'm putting out a challenge to our listeners to do just that. To get up five minutes earlier. Or wake up when your spouse wakes up and just hold each other and not say a word.

Rich:

And this isn't a time for you to try to have sex, or to try to turn it into something else. This is that intimate moment where you are just holding your spouse close to you.

Nik:

If that doesn't help you to move forward out of a rut, I don't know what is. There is power in silence. There's power in physical touch. And of course, having sex is a way to get out of ruts because let's be clear, people, a lot of unmarried people, and some married people believe that once you get married, you don't have sex anymore like the sex is gone.

Rich:

Daily.

Nik:

It should be daily

Rich:

It is.

Nik:

But if it's not daily, because people do have responsibilities

Rich:

Get up five minutes earlier. Wake her up at three o'clock in the morning. Let me tell ya, she'll appreciate it. At least you will.

Nik:

But sex is a way to help you get out of ruts, kissing each other before you depart. You know how many couples don't even do that?

Rich:

Yeah, it surprises me. You know, sometimes I'm out with some of my other friends. Not my good friends because I will call them out. But I will see them not say I love you when they're on the phone with their spouse. And I'm like, did you just not say I love you because I'm in the room? Like, don't, nuh-uhh, not me. Never.

Rich:

And that, again, it shouldn't just be something you say. Right? It shouldn't just be like, I love you. It's almost like on Avatar. I've told you before. I'm a nerd. I watched Avatar again recently because if you didn't know Avatar 2 is coming out. But anyway, they had something they said on there. And I loved it. They said, I see you. And to me, when you can get to that point of that I love you is more than just some words, but it's I see you. I understand how you're feeling even when you don't say words. I am here for you. I love you. Like that, to me should be how your I love you should come out because it should never be an instance where you feel like you just saying, I love you just to be saying it.

Nik:

Out of routine.

Rich:

And that's what gets you in ruts routines.

Nik:

Yup.

Rich:

Just deciding that life is supposed to be this big routine. No, life is meant to be lived. Not just when you retire, not just when you don't have kids, not just when the kids leave home, not just on the weekends, you should be trying to live your best life every day because you never know when life is going to come to an end. You know, people always talk about 9-11. But reality is we've had many tragedies since then. The truth is, every day there's a tragedy. There's somebody that gets in their vehicle to go to work and they never make it. There are people that have car accidents, heart attacks, kidnapped all kinds of things every day. And this isn't about living in fear. But this is about understanding the value and the importance of every single second you have with your spouse.

Nik:

In our lives, we have mentors for everything. We'll talk to other parents about our kids and the struggles that they go through to get advice from their, from experienced parents or parents that we view as having a better understanding of a certain situation that we're dealing with our kids. We'll have a mentor at work, or for school, or a career, but rarely do other couples talk to each other. And as a matter of fact, there's always the advice of, don't tell too many people about what's going on in your marriage. And I subscribe to that a little bit. But I also believe that there is so much to learn from other couples that you admire and being tight lipped about the things that you're going through in your marriage is a detriment to your marriage.

Nik:

So, I'm saying another way to get out of ruts is to talk to other couples. And that's a risk, right? But I'm not saying talk to anybody, talk to people that you trust.

Rich:

Definitely.

Nik:

Talk to people that you trust. We're here sharing our advice and our stories and our experience about ruts in our marriage. And hopefully, somebody is listening to this and they can take some of what we're saying and apply it to their own marriages. But who are those couples in your own life? Real life couples that you can touch? That you can talk to about how to get out of ruts in your marriage?

Rich:

Because let me tell y'all now we have those couples in our lives. And we have had those couples forever. I remember one pastor that we had in our life that sat on my couch and read me my rights. And basically, let me know that some of our issues in my marriage were my issues. Right? And it helped us because we had to be honest. And that's the thing when you're in a rut, you have to be honest. You can't be in denial. You can't be avoiding the issue. You have to be real about it if you really want change. If you really want to move forward.

Rich:

Because I could have set my truck and be like, man my truck can make it. We fine.

Nik:

Being stubborn.

Rich:

I could have been stubborn, right? Cuz I can be stubborn, I could have been stubborn, and we'd still be sitting on that mountain to the snow melted

Nik:

Or dead.

Rich:

Right. Well, I wouldn't have been dead, you know, I'ma outdoorsman. I'll figure it out.

Rich:

But we definitely could have been in a worse situation if we weren't willing to be real with ourselves. Because it's easy to say oh, just hit that button right there that says four wheel drive and we'll keep it going. Right. We will keep this party moving. And in our marriages, we can do the same thing. Oh, you know what? We're good because the bills are paid and the roofs on the house and the kids is fed. But if you guys have lost that connection, then you're not good. And you avoiding dealing with it can lead you down a very, very, very dangerous road and find yourself in your marriage in a place that it didn't even have to be.

Nik:

And don't be defensive. You could have easily been defensive. You were the one driving. Right? And somebody could've been like man, we stuck because of you.

Rich:

Right.

Nik:

And it could have turned into this big thing. When the truth is, you're the one driving.

Rich:

Mm hmm.

Nik:

So, admitting to yourself and being honest with yourself and not being defensive. Remember, I always say on this podcast, marriage is not about you. It just isn't. And if you want marriage to be about you, you're probably going to be stuck in a rut for a very long time.

Rich:

That's it. Just remember that. ruts are not something that are unusual in a marriage. They are something that, like I said, anybody that's been married for any amount of time, they've fallen into at some point, they may not call it that or may not recognize it. But every marriage goes through ruts. It just does. That's part of being married. Because you do become more familiar with each other.

Nik:

You do. You become more familiar, and you're also growing. Right? Regardless of what age you were, when you got married, if you stay married, you're going to be growing. And as an individual, you're going to grow, but hopefully you're growing together in a marriage. Because ruts sometimes happen because couples just simply drift apart. They just grow apart. They spend so much time investing in their own individual growth, and not the growth of their marriage.

Nik:

And it's important to avoid that from happening is to share your hopes and dreams for the future together. Dream together. And as my husband said earlier, show interest in things that you're not necessarily interested in. We're both outdoors people. Let's be clear. We're both outdoors people. But you are an extreme outdoors person.

Rich:

Oh yeah.

Nik:

And I'm not but you should be it is so much fun.

Nik:

There's no way

Rich:

clears my mind.

Nik:

I just, I just can't imagine being out somewhere in the back country of Colorado where there's lions, tigers and bears. Oh my. And sleeping soundly and having to use the bathroom. Where?

Rich:

We have a porta potty.

Nik:

Oh, no honey.

Rich:

You dig a hole.

Nik:

That's not a porta potty.

Rich:

It's pota and you potty.

Nik:

You can't porta that nowhere. That's a, that's a build a potty.

Rich:

Yeah, well.

Nik:

Nah, man. Nah dog. But showing interest in things that your spouse likes to do, I think is very important. Also writing letters. Ooh.

Rich:

You know what? I love that. Just the other day. I was at work. I had kind of a stressful week, a lot of things going on. And I open up my lunch box. My wife, had made me my lunch the day before, and put it in the fridge because I had gone to bed like as soon as I got home. I was so tired. And anyway, I open up my lunch box. And I'm eating my lunch, and I pull it out. I'm like, wait a minute. What's this piece of paper in the bottom? It is this folded up letter from my wife,

Nik:

handwritten,

Rich:

handwritten in cursive. So, it was kind of you know, written in a way that my kids will never be able to read it.

Nik:

Our kids know cursive.

Rich:

Okay, well, but this note was so encouraging, so uplifting and helped me power through my day. And, to me, that's one of those my wife connected with me and she wasn't even there. My wife drew me in, and she wasn't even there. Her words just spoke to my heart. They were truly that I see you moment for me. And so, it doesn't always have to be this big, lavish thing. It can be something so simple. I mean, it's just showing your spouse that they matter to you still, that they are not just part of the routine, that they are more than the routine.

Nik:

Going back to that I see you and observing your spouse and just listening without that verbal communication. One thing very simple, right? Everybody doesn't have to go write a four page letter like Aaliyah, but whatever. I think it's a great idea. We used to write letters to each other all the time.

Rich:

Maybe we should read letters that we've written to each other on air one day.

Nik:

Okay, you’ve said that before on the podcast,

Rich:

I think it'd be cool.

Nik:

We'll have to, if the listeners want to do it, I'll...

Rich:

We'll do it for our patrons.

Nik:

We'll do it for our patrons. That's perfect. That's fine. Our patrons can get that insight.

Nik:

My husband is a lot more organized than I am. He would be a minimalist probably if it weren't for the fact that he has three women living in the house with him. And one thing we've talked about the renovations that we had in our house in earlier podcasts, and we went, and we bought all this new furniture and everything to really update our house. And one thing that he said is he wanted to keep an area of our kitchen clear. And I kind of pushed back a little bit because I'm like, we live in this house. This ain't no model home like why do we need to keep, this in the kitchen, the most highly trafficked area of our house. How are we going to do that?

Nik:

But after I got out of my feelings and thought about it some more and processed it. I was like, you know what, I can do that for him. I can make sure that this space in the kitchen is always clear. Small things like that really shows your spouse that you're paying attention and that you see them.

Rich:

And then it's important for you on the other side of that, to recognize it. Like don't just take those acts of kindness and those things that they do to show you their love. Don't just take it for granted and be like, well shoot good. She did what I told her to do. Recognize and appreciate. Because you can push somebody into a rut by not recognizing all the things, they are doing for you because you're so focused on the things that you think they're not doing.

Nik:

Thanks, so much for tuning into this week's episode of the Naked Proverbs podcast. We want you to truly have a happy marriage. We want you to continue to thrive in your marriages and indulge in your spouses on a regular basis.

Nik:

Don't forget to follow the Naked Proverbs on whatever podcasting platform you listen on. And we will be talking to y'all in the next one.

Rich:

Go, Chiefs.

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