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This Will Get You Through The “Ho-Hum Seasons” In Your Relationship

What should you do when things aren't super good or bad in your relationship?

Love & Relationships

Here's my heads up—I don't know if what I'm about to say is technically classified as an unpopular opinion or not, but since the actor who actually played this character even said she got on her last nerve (at times), I'm gonna go for it. Carrie Bradshaw (you know, from Sex & the City) really bugged and still bugs me. She was neurotic. Bratty. Couldn't receive criticism. Sulked a lot. She treated Aiden like crap. Her style was fly but yeah ugh…just ugh (oh, as far as Sarah Jessica's co-sign, check out "Sarah Jessica Parker Just Threw Some Serious Shade at Carrie Bradshaw").

And what does this even remotely have to do with the title of this piece? Let's revisit that Aiden point for just a moment, shall we? Some of y'all may remember the "Drama Queens" episode when things were going so well with Aiden that Carrie created drama, just to bring some so-called "spice" into the relationship. This. Girl. Right. Here.

So, before diving deeper into all of this, let me just say that if you're someone who is used to having drama in your own relationship, you might want to track that episode down, just to be sure that your relationship isn't going through a blasé moment so much as you aren't used to something that is healthy, stable and sane. On the other hand, if you're sure that you are not a drama queen, and it really is that your relationship has plateaued and you're not sure what to do about it, first know that it happens to even the best of couples. And then, share this with your partner so that you can get through the ho-hum-yawn season that you're in—together.

Ask Yourself: Is It Due to Boredom, a Lack of Passion or Unadulterated Disinterest?

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Stuck in a rut. That's another way to describe what a ho-hum season in a relationship feels like. That's not uncommon; it happens. But if you feel like it's been this way for a while now and it's low-key starting to freak you out, ask yourself what has you feeling that way. Are you bored? If so, when's the last time that you and yours have tried something new? Has the passion died down? If that's the case, although National Sex Day was in June, you can still click here for some ways to get the fire back. Maybe it's simply a lack of interest. If that's the issue, it's time to spend some time together and maybe go on some love-language-based dates so that you can do a little emotional reconnecting.

A lot of times, when a relationship has plateaued, the way to remedy that is to figure out when it started and why. Once you have those answers, it can be so much easier to get out of the rut; before it starts feeling like the two of you are in a ditch.

Then Ask Yourself: Are You a Thrill-Seeker or Can You Enjoy “Relationally-Still Moments”?

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Senior couples tell me often that a sign of true intimacy is when two people don't feel like they have to entertain each other all of the time. They can sit in silence with one another and be perfectly fine with that. (Ladies, this means that our man can be quiet for an hour without us asking, "So, what are you thinking about?")

Some of us are such adrenaline junkies that we confuse our relationship feeling like it's stuck with our personalities being on-10 ninety percent of the time. If you and yours are able to chill on the coach without a lot of dialogue or ride in the car without having to have constant chatter going on, that doesn't automatically or necessarily mean that something is wrong. It actually could be an indication that things are going oh-so-right. That there is peace between you. And peace is always a good thing.

Make Sure You Don’t Manufacture Problems

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Guy friends are gems. They have a way of breaking things down without sugar-coating or beating around the bush. Whenever I go to my male friends for their insights on how women can make the quality of their relationships better, it never goes without saying. They will say something along the lines of, "Stop making a problem where there isn't one."

If you're emotionally yawning a lot, that doesn't necessarily mean that your partner isn't being proactive or romantic enough; it could just mean that it's time to do step outside of the box (and maybe you should be the one to initiate doing so). If the sex isn't as hot as it used to be, don't jump to conclusions that you both are no longer attracted to one another; it could just mean that you need to book a hotel room or try some new positions to bring more spice into the situation. If there's not a ton of dialogue happening, don't assume that he's more interested in someone else. Also, don't go lurking around to prove your point. Breaks in communication ain't always a bad thing; especially if you know how to be secure in it.

Far too many people end up going from a ho-hum season to a full-on break-up, and it's all due to not knowing how to mentally chill out during those kinds of times. I've done enough counseling to assure you that it's more women than men who create drama out of nothing during a ho-hum season, simply because they don't know how to be emotionally and relationally still. Perhaps this ho-hum season is so you can master that. Everything has a purpose.

Keep Your Boundaries with “Others” Firm

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Most of us have heard of the 80/20 rule before. It's about accepting the fact that you're probably only going to get 80 percent (max) out of what you want in the person you're seeing. During the good times, that's fine. But when you're going through a ho-hum season and you're looking for some excitement or more passion than what you are getting, that 20 percent that your partner doesn't have to offer can start looking really, really good. And desirable.

A part of the reason why affairs begin is because, as I once heard a person say, "secrets are seductive". It can be intriguing, fun even, to sneak around. But should you ever get found out (which is more likely than not), you may end up with more than you bargained for. Plus, "the 20 percent person" can start to get old after a while if that's literally all that they have to offer.

So yeah, although it might be tempting to venture out and try something new, if there is ever a time to withstand temptation and keep your boundaries clear and firm, this season would be it. If you know that, deep down, you want to keep your relationship intact, anyway.

Be Intentional About Intimacy

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Something that you have to be really careful about during a ho-hum season is that you don't pull away from your partner. Instead, move in. You can do that by focusing on how to cultivate intimacy. I don't (just) mean sex. I mean making sure that you both still feel connected, on some level, even if it's not super-intense at the moment.

You can do this by inquiring about the worlds you both have that don't include each other (like work), planning dates that you know your partner will like and doing sweet-yet-simple stuff like holding hands and taking a walk around the neighborhood after dinner.

If you've got loved ones who've been married for over a decade, they're gonna tell you that if you are serious about going the long haul, you are going to have quite a few ho-hum seasons to get through. The key is to not start worrying but instead, remind one another that you're not going anywhere; that the intimacy may not be smoldering at the moment, but the fire isn't completely out either.

Know this Season Is Just a Season

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The same guy who wrote the book The Five Love Languages has some other reads that are really good. If you are married or plan on getting married, one that I recommend is The Four Seasons of Marriage. In a nutshell, it compares the marriage union to nature and its seasons—spring, summer, autumn and winter. It talks about the purpose that each season serves and how to handle your relationship throughout each one of them.

It's a great reminder that everything has its season and that seasons do indeed pass. This not-so-thrilling time in your relationship is no exception. Sit tight. It will pass too.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

6 Signs You're A Relationship Self-Sabotager

The Signs Of A Truly Intimate Relationship

7 Honest Truths About Love & Relationships

9 Signs He Might Be The One

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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