Has He Gone from Spouse to Stranger? Do This to Rekindle the Romance
By Laura Doyle, New York Times Bestselling Author
If your husband is quiet and withdrawn, it can be scary.
It’s so lonely if he has lost interest in you sexually.
And if he’s pulling away or, worse, breaking up, that is downright heartbreaking.
I know because I went through such a gulf in my own marriage. Everything I tried to bring my husband closer only pushed him further away.
It seemed hopeless.
Fortunately, I found a solution that works.
The breakthrough after the breakdown made my relationship more playful and passionate than ever.
And I was able to solve it without him consciously doing anything to work on the relationship. You can do it too.
Here’s why men pull away after getting close and four steps to change that.
1) Bridge the Emotional Distance
You could be longing for his attention or affection, feeling painfully alone, and he could have no idea as he goes about doing his own thing.
If you’re feeling disconnected or lonely for his time or touch, it’s time to let him know.
Just spare yourself the disastrous results of my old go-to’s, which sounded like this: “You never have time for me!” Or “I can’t even remember the last time we had sex.”
There’s nothing sexy about complaining how short he’s falling.
And there’s nothing like focusing on neglect to magnify it so you end up seeing even more of it.
For an alternative that actually is attractive, here’s a magical phrase to try instead: “I miss you.”
Expressing yourself this vulnerably, without criticism, makes all the difference.
Belinda found that out when she said “I miss you” to her husband on his way out the door one morning.
To her delight, he responded with “I miss you too”–and initiated lovemaking!
Take it to the next level with a spouse-fulfilling prophecy. I go into detail about this in my blog “How to Get Your Husband to Pay Attention to You”.
You could say to him (and yourself), “I love how attentive you are to me” or “I appreciate you giving me so much attention” or “I’m so lucky to have such an attentive husband.”
To supercharge your new powers of vulnerability, try filling yourself up first with things that make you happy.
An “I miss you” from a bottomless pit of need isn’t so attractive.
Getting busy doing your own thing, on the other hand–whether it’s taking the time to do your nails, spelunking in a muddy cave, belly dancing while belting out Shakira lyrics, or whatever it is that makes you deliriously happy–will increase your magnetism.
Especially if you’ve been depleted or exhausted, overwhelmed or irritable lately, filling up your self-care tank is the indispensable first step to intimacy.
Schedule at least three self-care activities a day, and your man won’t be able to resist you either. Soon he’ll be the one saying “I miss you”!
2) Let Him Feel Safe and Accepted
Debra was tired of having to be the one initiating sex, hopeless that she could ever have the intimacy she longed for.
But when she got busy keeping her self-care tank full, she became so irresistible she couldn’t believe it.
Her husband started kissing her freely to make her smile.
When her seven-year-old daughter saw a smitten couple on TV leaning in for a kiss, the little girl said, “Just like mama and daddy.”
Debra’s heart melted.
But that was only the beginning.
Before long, she and her husband started to have what she described as “hot, steamy spontaneous physical intimacy.” Not once or twice but as a regular thing!
Want to know Debra’s secret?
She discovered the most powerful aphrodisiac for men…
Let me spell it out for you: R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
I’m sure you’ve heard of it, but if you’re anything like I was, you may have no idea of what respect looks like for men.
It means letting go of “helpfully” pointing out his flaws.
It means choosing to trust his thinking.
It means expecting the best outcome.
Maybe that’s too hard to do when he keeps messing up lately. What qualities attracted you to him in the first place? His kindness or charm, confidence or integrity, intelligence or sense of humor?
Chances are, that guy is still in there. Showing respect, whether he deserves it right now or not, will let the man you fell in love with come out.
A specific way of practicing respect is (drumroll, please)… biting your tongue.
Wait, aren’t we supposed to share everything? Turns out that voicing every thought that went through my mind with my other “half” did not create the intimacy I wanted.
Less is more when it comes to communication that truly connects. (Except with girlfriends, who can be handy for getting your word quota out.)
When it comes to your man, what would happen if you let go of bringing up old baggage?
If you let go of malebashing or badmouthing your man in front of your children, others, or him?
Now, if your husband is withdrawn, I know it’s tempting to start firing questions at him to figure out what’s wrong.
The reality is, it may have nothing to do with you.
He might have something on his mind, such as work, finances, or problems in his family.
Giving him the space to figure it out on his own will show that you trust him to problem solve.
He’ll start taking initiative, like Debra’s husband did. She was used to being the one who had to make all the plans.
After her respect experiment, Debra said she nearly fainted when he took the initiative to plan a date night, organize childcare, make plans for dinner, and even arrange parking ahead of time.
Not to mention him taking the initiative to tell her that her eyes looked beautiful or, another time, to lug her suitcase through the airport while she walked hands free like a queen.
Now that’s manly. And it all started when she incorporated this next respect hack…
3) Refine Your Communication Skills
My three favorite little words used to be “You are right.”
I love winning, which explains why I go for volleyball, not yoga.
My drive to win served me well on the court but not in my marriage.
When my game plan was explaining to my husband why I was right, defending what I wanted, and debating why his ideas wouldn’t work, not only did I lose out on being heard, he started opening up to me less and less.
I wanted to make him hear me, but how was I doing when it came to hearing him? Three new little words have come to my rescue: “I hear you.”
He wants to buy a motorcycle or quit his job and move to Bali? I hear you.
He thinks his boss is a jerk out to get him? I hear you.
He plans to win the lottery and is already designing the pool and choosing his new car? I hear you.
I used to debate things that hadn’t even happened yet, like how to spend those lotto winnings.
He started keeping it to himself, and I got pretty lonely when he only wanted to watch TV instead of talking to me.
How is it serving you to “win” arguments with your man?
If you want to go all out, you can supercharge this communication skill too. Try listening, just listening, for a full hour.
Not making helpful suggestions or thinking up a killer response to everything he says, simply listening respectfully. It can be scary.
Many women think he’ll miss hearing their comebacks or that he’ll catch them pulling a weird trick.
It has yet to happen.
Instead, he’ll start moving closer to you on the sofa, just wanting to be by your side even when you’re busy on your laptop, like my husband did.
The one exception to “I hear you” is if your man is saying something hurtful.
No need to become a whipping post and stand there and take it. On the contrary, feeling hurt is a good time to say “Ouch!” and leave the conversation.
With your newfound relationship skills, however, such moments of hurt are fewer and farther between.
For example, when Grace’s husband got annoyed that she’d scheduled a playdate for the kids, she was taken aback.
A knee-jerk reaction came to her lips (involving him being a jerk), but she decided to listen for his heart message instead.
Sure enough, he was worried about her burdening herself with overscheduling because she’d seemed overwhelmed lately.
Knowing that he just wanted her to be light and happy was an opportunity for gratitude, no hurt in sight.
4) Heat Things Up in The Bedroom
Now that you’ve become ridiculously happy and a safe space, your man can’t help but be drawn to you like a magnet.
There’s a Skill for that! If you’re wanting to rekindle the passion, why not make yourself available for physical intimacy?
Not by pursuing him or telling him you want sex. Adding it to his to-do list was never very sexy for me either.
Dialing up the gender contrast, on the other hand, is totally sexy!
One way of doing that is having the vulnerability to put yourself out there, maybe flaunting your lacy lingerie or reading a magazine wearing nothing at all.
Then, when he does initiate intimacy, receiving it graciously, which is quintessentially feminine since women are built to receive.
By the way, this is a good time for tongue biting too. Discussing relationship issues or household tasks can wait. (Tongue tying is a lot more fun.)
You may not be in the mood at first, but if you’re open that could change. Especially if you’re not afraid to say what you want.
Maybe you’d love a massage or slow dance first, maybe trying a new position.
Expressing such desires outside the bedroom tends to inspire–and produce fireworks.
Need more help to bring back the playfulness, peace, and passion in your marriage?
Which experiment will you try first to rekindle the romance?
Let me know in the comments below!