How can my husband and I rekindle the romantic flame that brought us together in the first place? We're stuck in a rut. The spark has gone out of our relationship. We don't even seem to have much fun together anymore. How do I raise this subject without seeming to nag?
Begin by asking your husband some questions. Don't overwhelm him by proposing a sit-down, face-to-face, "let's talk about our issues" type of discussion. Some men find this intimidating. If your husband is like that, you might suggest that the two of you spend a day doing something together that he enjoys, like fishing or hiking. Then, when you're both relaxed and having a good time, tell him you've got something on your mind. Ask him if he wouldn't mind talking about it.
You'll want to do this in a caring, non-threatening way, of course. Resist the temptation to tell him what you think is wrong with the relationship. Without lecturing or interrogating, show him that you'd really like to know how he's been feeling about life lately. Make an effort to discover how he views your marriage.
If you handle it right, chances are that you'll learn one of three things. First, he may reveal that he's preoccupied with something that has nothing to do with your marriage. Perhaps he's stressed out about work, worried about his health, or struggling with depression. In other words, his unromantic behavior may have little or nothing to do with you.
The second option is that he's feeling fine and thinks your marriage is going great. To put it another way, he's pretty clueless, at least from your perspective. He hasn't noticed that there's anything wrong with the relationship. As a silver lining, you may discover that he loves you deeply and has warm feelings toward you but simply doesn't express them.
The third possibility is that he is in fact unhappy with your marriage. If that's the case, he may open up with a whole laundry list of things that have been bothering him. Be prepared, because the list may include some things about you. If this happens, do your best not to become defensive. Difficult as it may be, keep quiet and let him vent.
Once you get him talking, you're more than half way there. As he opens up, you'll be able to get a much better idea of exactly what's been going on between you. At that point, it's critical to let him know that you want to work together to get things back on track. Make it clear that, from your viewpoint, the process of healing and improving your marriage has to be a "team effort." Above all, he should not go away from this conversation feeling as if you've been telling him what he needs to do to "fix" things.
At some point you may also want to consider the option of enlisting the help of a marriage counselor. If so, our Counseling staff can give you a brief over-the-phone consultation and provide you with a list of referrals to qualified professionals in your area. You may call at this number.
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