Dear Dr. Bill,
My husband and I have been married for 10 years and I’m concerned that our relationship has gotten stuck in a rut. Long gone are the days of romantic dinners, love notes, and spontaneous dates. Can you give me some ideas about how to talk to him about this without sounding like I’m nagging him?
The place to start is by asking your husband some questions. You’ll want to do this in a caring, non-threatening way, resisting the temptation to tell him what YOU think is wrong with the relationship.
Without interrogating him, tell him you’d really like to know how he’s been feeling about life lately, and how HE views your marriage relationship.
Chances are that you’ll learn one of three things. He may reveal to you that he’s concerned about something that has nothing to do with your marriage. Perhaps he’s stressed about work, worried about his health, or has been feeling depressed.
A second option may be that he is feeling fine and thinks your marriage is going great. In other words, he’s pretty clueless and hasn’t noticed anything wrong with the relationship. He loves you and feels warm feelings toward you, but simply doesn’t express them.
The third option is that he’ll tell you that he’s been feeling unhappy in the relationship. He may open up with a whole laundry list of things that have been bothering him. If that happens, do your best not to get defensive, and just let him vent.
Once you get him talking, it’s critical that you express to him that you want to work together to get things back on track. In other words, getting your marriage back on track needs to be a “team effort,” not you telling him what he needs to do to “fix” things.
A great resource to get you started is “When Bad Things Happen to Good Marriages” by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott.
Thanks for writing, Laura. I’m Bill Maier for WBCL.