Motivating Your Man

Today's post is an answer to a question posed multiple times to me from my followers. I chose to answer this on the blog instead of personally, and I hope those who posed the question won't mind. I believe that there are a lot of guys who think the same way and other women may sometimes wonder the same thing. The question goes something like this:

"My husband doesn't believe in this lovey-dovey stuff. He doesn't think we need to date now that we are married. What should I do?"

To answer the question, I first want to quote Lisa Sussman from Redbook's 500 Great Dates.

"One of the differences between newlyweds and "oldly-weds" is that people who've been an item for a while usually stop surprising each other. It's not that you're no longer capable of being unpredictable; it's just that it takes time to amaze when you know each other so well. But what if your guy isn't really the kind of guy to spring a surprise romantic night on you? Sure, he's bowled you over with flowers a few times, maybe the occasional unexpected chocolate…But a full-out-every-detail-meticulously-planned-to-make-you-go-awww evening out? Never!

This doesn't mean that you aren't adored. It may just be that his idea of what constitutes a romantic surprise is different from yours. Maybe he parks his car on the street so you can get out easily in the morning. Perhaps he always buys strawberry ice cream because he knows it's your favorite even though he really prefers cookie dough. In his mind, these sweet little touches are just as unexpected and significant as organizing all the nitty-gritties of a razzle-dazzle wingding date. When you get down to it, planning a romantic surprise, however big or small, is just shorthand for saying "I love you. I think about you. I am paying attention to who you are."

Of course, this warm fuzzy feeling may not be enough to cut it when you want to find a love poem in your wallet, to be serenaded at dinner and the whole extravagant nine yards. So tell him what you find romantic. Just say it outright. Coyness and suggestiveness may not serve you well with a nonromantic. Make it clear what you like, and there will be no room for confusion. Some men don't do romantic things because they think their idea will fail or you won't like it. Let him know what you like, and he'll feel safe enough to do it. So there probably won't be a violinist standing by the next time he brings you tea in bed, but there may just be candlelight and flowers…."

{Pg. 118-120}

So, let's recap. Your husband is not a mind-reader. Ideally, we'd love for each of our men to suddenly knock us off our feet with some huge romantic to-do, but for most of us, it's just not going to happen. Here's the plan:

1. Adjust your expectations.
Don't get me wrong... this doesn't mean you should expect him to never do anything romantic, but make sure your expectation is reasonable and fair. Don't set him up to fail.

2. Be clear.
Tell him what you want and how you'd like your romantic life to be improved. Let him know that romance to you doesn't always mean him planning HUGE events, but that small gestures and/or surprises every now and then are important to you.

3. Cater to each other's love language.
Just as you might like to see more romantic gestures from him, he may like more intimacy from you. (Read about the 5 love languages here). It's about give and take. Make sure you're not always demanding romantic gestures when he's not getting the love he needs. You need to understand and satisfy each other's needs--even though it may not be what you think is most important.

4. Be patient
Realize that he won't turn into Prince Charming over night…offer loving reminders when needed and remember to keep your expectations reasonable.

If you've been through these steps and have not seen much progress, I recommend the following:

  • Read the "The 5 Love Languages" TOGETHER.
  • Have a romance schedule…perhaps something similar to my romance calendar. (Some guys like to know exactly what to do and when. This takes out most of the spontaneity, but it's a good start…)
  • As often as you see fit, print out ideas of simple romantic gestures or date ideas that you'd love to have him do for you.
    Here's what I would do: Print out 5 ideas (for example, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) and staple them all together. Attach a note that says "Hey hun…I'm in need of a little romance. Try one of these." That way, he can pick what he wants to do and there's still a little spontaneity involved for you! (AND--you're not giving him the key to your wealth of ideas...just 5)

That's all I've got---I'm no expert, but romance is much too important (and much too fun) to sit on the sideline. I hope with these tips that romance finds its rightful place in your relationship.

I wish you all the best in your romance endeavors...

~ Cher

PS: This post is not meant as a solve-all solution. Every relationship and every person is different. Please don't take this post as an insult to men; just a generalized suggesion for those who feel the lack of romance in their relationship.


Hillbilly Duhn said...

I've been following your blog for awhile, because I'm a hopeless romantic to the core and any ideas that I can get my hands on, I surely will try!


Today, though your post was awesome, and I didn't ask that question, but I think I could add something. I hope you don't mind.

I know, that even together, my hubs wouldn't sit down and read a romance book with me, and he's actually slightly romantic.

I think that before anything, before the books, the gestures, that a couple should learn conversation. Talking. Because if you can't talk to each other, than all of this trying to be romantic, is going to get you no where. (Only speaking from experience!)
I'm no expert either, but I think with being on my second marriage, watching my folks for fourty one years and my friends, and reading, that bottom line is, you have to be able to communicate.

{I said too much, I'M SORRY!}

Cher said...

No, you didn't say too much at all. Communication is absolutely key. I kept feeling like I wanted to include more and more...but I realized that I could have typed for hours...because all marriage topics seem to run into and reinforce one another. With this post, I tried to keep it very specific. HOWEVER, you're totally right. It would not work without communication---I'm hoping people know this. But, you can never be too sure. Thanks for mentioning it!

One Happy Family said...

Great post! My husband is like that. He is always thinking of me and doing the "little things." But it isn't always obvious to me. He says he wants to do more romantic things that I like, but he doesn't know what to do and has a hard time being creative. A love calendar would be fun. Or even just a binder or folder of romantic ideas that we can BOTH pick from. Even though I'd know the ideas, I'd never know which one he's going to do. :)

Cook Family said...

Since reading your blog daily, we have recomitted to a weekly date and I don't mean dinner and a movie. I mean we are doing new, different things each week (mostly from your blog):). My husband IS NOT the romantic type but has become VERY sweet, AND much more romantic since we have renewed our weekly date night and changed it to something new/awesome each time. I realize that my husband was able to become romantic again more quickly because we had a good marriage to begin with. I highly recommend an article from Simply Sweet Marriage (website that you spotlighted) about spicing up date nights. And interestingly enough, our communication is very much improved now, too! Thank you--I obviously LOVE your blog!

MoziEsmé said...

I can relate to the question... Great topic!

Becky said...

I absolutely love this post! I have read the five love languages and recommend it to every couple! It gives you a new view on what makes your husband (as well as yourself) feel loved!

Little Miss Baker said...

This is so great Cher! And yes some men are so different in the ways they choose to be romantic. Some are more subtle in their efforts to amaze and surprise. You are such a helpful blogger to so many relationships, I hope you realize that :)

Heidi said...

Thanks for the help! I loved the post!

Jenn said...

Cher, that question gave me that "all-too-familiar" feeling. It's good advice!

Anonymous said...

My husband isn't against dates, but planning them isn't his forte, and forget about deviating from the dinner and a movie formula. I liked what you said in this post and decided to give it a try. I sent him an email with 6 date ideas attached and told him to pick one for Friday or Saturday. I followed up and confirmed a time so I could line up a babysitter. Come date night, I found out that he did not pick one of my options (which were super simple, next to zero planning required -- I honestly thought they were doable). He also refused to pick an alternative. My babysitter shows, so we go out...drive around for a half an hour...can't decide on anything to do, so we go home. He completely failed a multiple choice test -- that man is a hopeless cause. Nevertheless, I will continue to read your blog and fantasize.