Romance Resurrection

Dear Karen,

“My husband has stopped doing all the romantic things he did when we were first together.  I miss them, and it makes me mad!  What to do?” – Cindy

Dear Cindy,

If I’d collected a dollar every time I’d heard that complaint over the past 20 years, I’d have a lot of money in the bank!

Love is a Many-leveled Thing

As is usually the case in our romantic unions, there are probably a couple of things going on here…let’s look at each possible element separately.

Courtship Behavior

Let’s face it; we ALL have that behavior, in the beginning.  You know what I’m talking about, right?  In order to “win them over”, we show only our most attractive and positive traits (maybe even stretch it a bit?), and the less desirable “stuff” gets put in the closet (to be revealed, eventually, because it has to!).

That may feel sad to you, but consider the other side of it – you get to relax, and – to a certain extent – take the relationship for granted (in a good way).

For instance:

  • you know who your date is going to be on Saturday night;
  • you have someone to go to weddings with;
  • you have someone that will lug heavy stuff, or hang things for you, or kill scary bugs for you;
  • you have someone who cares about your bad day, and will listen to you and try to solve it.

At some point in a good relationship, you simply bank on certain things being true, without question.  It is comforting to be able to take some stuff for granted.

And then there’s the extreme end of that behavior that’s not good for anyone, because every relationship needs sustenance, in order to survive.  And the sustenance that is required is attention to your partner’s needs.

Since I’m “talking” with you, Cindy, and not your husband, we’ll focus on you.

What About My Needs?

Too often, I see a dynamic being played out in relationships: a competition to see who’s going to cave in first.  I don’t know if that’s happening in your situation, but if it is, I don’t have to tell you that it’s a very difficult place to be…it wreaks havoc in your love life, and makes intimacy and vulnerability just about impossible!

If you’re not sure whether or not this is your story, here’s the test: do you find yourself feeling resentful about what you do for him; keeping score about how much you do for him, vs. how much he does for you?  If this is you, watch out.  It’s very damaging to the union you two have together.

In the beginning, you probably couldn’t do ENOUGH for this man, and all without much notice of how he was keeping up his end of the bargain (of course, he was falling all over himself, giving you things, taking you places, calling during the day and saying mushy stuff, and all the other things that made you feel that “special feeling”).

At some point, it started to change.  It doesn’t matter who started it, it’s just feeling bad now.

The good news is that you have the ability to create a relationship where you have more of what you’re missing, without the rollercoaster of emotions that went with the initial stages.

Want Something? Give It

This is an old wisdom…and simply means that the best way to get what you want is through giving it.  It sets up an environment of generosity which inspires people to the same type of behavior, usually.

There’s another benefit to this action: there’s a part of your brain that is very basic and elemental, and it operates at the level of sense/feeling.  It can’t really tell the difference between giving and receiving – so acts of love, kindness, and generosity feel wonderful.  That part of you experiences the glow of that positive feeling, even if you were the giver.  You benefit from giving, on a couple of levels.

Pretty cool, eh?

Teach Him New Tricks

Let’s explore one other aspect of your question.  It’s very important to realize who you’re working with here, and to remember that men are genetically wired to hunt.  I don’t care if your guy is a CPA working on taxes until 11p every night.  His genetic code is “man”.

So, what happens when a hunter has “bagged his prey”?

He rests.

After all, he planned his hunt for a long time, worked it diligently, and emerged victorious.  He may celebrate, but then it’s snooze-time.

This resting period lasts until he needs to hunt again.  Now, I’m assuming your man is done hunting, at least in this regard, right?  So, what to do?  Work with the genetic code!  What can you create that is going to appeal to that part of him?

If your immediate thought was: “He hunts to win, so I’ll make sure he’s inspired to hunt for the prize of my appreciation!” you’re on the money!

You see, many women slip into the dangerous type of taking things for granted, which is not very inspiring for men.

I’d suggest you mount a campaign of appreciation for him.  Start immediately, and appreciate anything and everything you can (authentically – don’t BS him, or it will backfire).  Share with him how (loved, safe, happy, fulfilled, content, horny, excited, feminine, warm, grateful, lucky…) you feel when he (rubs your feet, takes out the trash, fills the gas tank, handles the kids, brings home the bacon, kills the spider, walks the dog in the rain, sleeps on the wet spot…).

If you acknowledge him for already doing a good job, it registers for him as something he will win at, and will do more of it.

In Conclusion

In a long-term relationship, there’s the sweet type of taking-things-for-granted, and there’s the dangerous type.  Be very careful you haven’t fallen into the latter category; this tends to create resentment, which is a real love-killer.  Make sure you’re always appreciating him for what he does for you, and he’ll keep doing it.