Habituation: A Hazard to Your Healthy Marriage

When we first move to a new city, we are excited to explore the city and check out new places. However, after a while, we become accustomed to it and don’t really notice its beautiful or unique spots. We feel like we have to travel to exotic locations to see beautiful places. This happened to me when I moved to Phoenix, Arizona. In the beginning, I went hiking on mountains all around the city, constantly taking pictures of cacti and the views. Yet, over the years, without even realizing it, I started taking fewer pictures. I wouldn’t always notice the beauty the desert has to offer–like the tiny flowers on cacti. They had just become part of the landscape to me–nothing special.

Cacti in the desert- example of habituation


Psychologists call this habituation, which simply means that something that is novel to us in the beginning loses its allure over time as we become accustomed to it. This applies to places, things, and even to people.

Think about when you first met your partner or first got married. Did you and your partner act differently than you do now? Were you and your partner more appreciative of each other? If you have noticed changes, and you’ve become more apathetic in your relationship, it’s important to identify why. Part of it may be due to habituation, while the other part is due to our expectations for the relationship. We start to take each other for granted and just expect our partner to do what they are doing without thanks.

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To change this situation, take a moment today to simply say thank you to your spouse for the little things. You can mention something specifically that your partner has done that you appreciate. For instance, my husband always turns the outside lights on for me when I’m out at night. Whether I’m working late or spending time with a friend, when I get home, the lights are on. (And they’re not on a timer!) I always thank my hubby when I get home because I appreciate that he does this small thing to show he is thinking of me. This is an example of what Dr. Gottman, marriage researcher, would call “small things often”- a small thing that you do on a regular basis to contribute to a happy marriage. So, tell your partner thank you, and while you’re at it, take a minute to appreciate whatever is beautiful in your backyard.

Avoid Habituation - Quote about Appreciating Your Spouse

Invest in Your Marriage

To find out more about how you can strengthen your marriage, commit to doing the work in Stepmom Bootcamp: A 21-Day ChallengeStepmom Bootcamp has daily challenges to help you transform your stepmom life. In fact, Day 15 will give you two challenges to strengthen your relationship with your spouse. You can get your copy here.

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