Fight apathy in your marriage

You've probably heard the story about the wife who reads that the two biggest problems in America are ignorance and apathy. She asks her husband what he thinks about the news; he replies, "I don't know, and I don't care."


Apathy in marriage isn't a joking matter, though. Apathy doesn't march into a marriage like an army on parade; it creeps in like a guerrilla on its belly. It is silent and subtle, yet apathy can erode the joy and quality of a good relationship.

Apathy develops from an evil father and his son: Routine and Boredom. Routine can slowly set like concrete in a marriage, paralyzing a couple from doing anything creative or fulfilling.

Marriages need a certain amount of consistency, but if your life together has no variety, and everything is predictable, Routine has gone too far.

Find the balance. Don't let Routine overstep his boundaries in your marriage. Throw your mate an occasional fun curve - walk barefoot in the park together at times.


Boredom, the son of Routine, can play tricks on your mind, making another couple's life look more exciting and vibrant. He can blind you from everything positive in your marriage.

Boredom can destroy intimacy. Pastor Rick Warren says, "Boredom can kill a couple's sex life." It can kill any part of a marriage if left unchecked.


Routine breeds Boredom; then Boredom begets Apathy (not a happy family).

When things stay the same for a long time, breaking out of your rut becomes difficult. You may even begin to think you can't break out, that you're captive to it.

Fighting Apathy

You don't have to stay locked up. These ABCs can help combat apathy:


Couples need to install a good A/C in their marriage. An Apathy Check from time to time can help determine if this unwanted guest has entered your home.

Consider these questions:

  • Does the thought of going on a date with your spouse - without the kids - make you nervous because you don't know what you'd talk about for hours?
  • Does the idea of going out with your mate even once a month seem too frequent?
  • Have you lost the energy to do fun things together?

Don't panic, point blame, or get defensive if you discover apathy abides within your relationship. Every marriage goes through phases. The question is: What do you do when you're apathetic about your relationship? The answer should be: Start coming up with solutions.


Consider ways you and your mate can have fun together. Are there things you've always wanted to do but have never done - a bed and breakfast getaway or a late night dessert date on the living room floor? You could be creative in your "bedroom activities." The idea at this point is to accumulate lots of ideas.


Lay out a plan of action. Once you have determined what activity you will do together, think about what you'll talk about. You might explore these areas together:

  • Discuss the reasons you are glad you married each other.
  • Name 10 things (together) that describe the strong points of your marriage.
  • Take turns telling the story of how you met your mate as if you were telling it to someone who had never heard the story.
  • List things you like about your marriage.
  • List things you wish would happen in your marriage.
  • List activities you'd like to do to keep apathy out of your marriage.

Don't be afraid of apathy, but do respect and monitor it. Chances are you and your spouse will need to deal with it periodically since it can become a persistent intruder in your home. An occasional break from your routine can get you back on track to experiencing abundant life.

Rodney A. Wilson is minister of marriage and family enrichment at First Baptist Church in Smyrna, Tennessee. You can reach him at

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