Casey Alexander says to ditch traditional relationship advice and use these bold moves to get your love groove back.
Those fingers in my hair
That sly come hither stare
That strips my conscience bare
—Witchcraft, by Carolyn Leigh and Cy Coleman
Be honest … you’re worried.
You and your wife still have sex—occasionally.
You arrange for the weekly sitter, take her out for a nice dinner, share a bottle of wine, talk about your jobs and how lucky you are to still be together after all these years.
Afterward you take her home and make love with her.
But something … is just not the same.
You think about how she used to look at you.
You remember the huge smile that lit her face, the gleam in her eye as she watched you walk across the floor toward her, the way her body told you without a word that she wanted you.
When did she stop looking at you like that?
You can’t help but wonder … what are you doing wrong?
When she said she couldn’t do it all, you helped out around the house more, adding laundry and dishes to your daily to-do list.
When she said she needed a break, you came home early to watch the kids so she could go out with her girlfriends.
But it feels like the harder you try, the further away she gets.
Do you just need to be patient, waiting for her desire to return?
Do you sit silently by as your marriage falls apart?
How do you connect with your wife?
How do you get her to look at you like that again?
Some relationship experts tell you that you need to talk more, whether you feel like it or not.
They tell you to get in touch with your feminine side, to deny yourself, to meet all your wife’s needs, to “man up,” (can we get rid of this phrase, please?) to just do it.
The hard truth is that relationships are a lot of work.
But the good news is they’re the best investment of time and effort you’ll ever make.
Here are 10 alternatives to popular relationship advice that will help you talk less, put yourself first, and get your wife to look at you the way she did in those early, steamy, sexy days.
#1 Popular Advice: Put equal effort into the relationship.
We’ve all heard that as equal partners in our relationships, we each need to put in equal effort, right?
Well, that’s completely bogus.
It doesn’t matter which of you is putting more effort into the relationship. What matters is, does it work for you? Are you both happy? When it doesn’t work, that’s when she stops looking at you that way.
Alternative: Increase your own effort, and then request one small change from your partner.
Determine where you’re the weakest link and change your behavior without telling her. If you’re notoriously late coming home from work, come home on time three days this week.
Then, ask for what’s called a behavior change request.
If you’re new to reorienting relationship dynamics, try something like, “Hey sweetheart, I love it when you kiss me on Saturday mornings before I go running. Would you do that every night when I get home from work too?”
Respectfully requesting a change after making one yourself shows your wife how much you value her. She’ll be more inclined to honor your request, not because she feels pressured or obligated, but because she wants to.
#2 Popular Advice: Put her first.
As much as women want their husbands to attend to their needs, what they often don’t realize is that when their husbands stop prioritizing their own needs within the relationship, wives subtly begin to see their partners differently. Husbands lose their sexual sheen when they attend to their wives’ needs to the exclusion of their own. They become partners—co-parents, co-breadwinners, roommates, teammates—instead of lovers.
Alternative: Put yourself first, then your relationship.
Reprioritize. Start small if necessary.
Your wife wants to go shopping on Saturday? Instead of sitting on a hot bench in the sun at the outlet mall checking your phone, you’d rather take a run, wash the car, or have a beer with a friend.
Take a stand. Make it happen. Tell her you love spending time with her, but after working all week, you need to fill your tank too. You’ll make sure to spend a few hours with her that night doing something she enjoys, even if it’s listening to her shopping roundup over dinner. Because by then, you won’t feel forced to be with her: you’ll want to.
When she sees how much you value yourself, she’ll value you more too.
#3 Popular Advice: Work Harder.
Along with prioritizing your wife, you’re told to prioritize your family—not that you wouldn’t without those words of wisdom—but how much more can you give?
Between working, taking the kids to games every weekend, mowing the lawn, and on and on, there’s no time to breathe, much less connect with your wife.
Top that with the fact that every conversation you have as a couple revolves around the logistics of running the business you call your marriage, and no one would blame you for packing it in and accepting that the best you can hope for at this point is monthly sex, and the illusion your wife’s Facebook posts create of a couple still in love.
Alternative: Play Smarter.
Let it go (if you sing that to the tune from Frozen, you won’t be able to forget the mantra).
Hop on the lazy parenting bandwagon and know that occasionally skipping one of your daughter’s dance practices won’t traumatize her in the long run. In fact, it’ll be good for her.
And enact a moratorium on certain conversations with your wife, either at specific times or in particular locations. Create a no-logistics zone. “Sorry honey, we’re in the bedroom. Can’t talk about the soccer tournament. Nope, not the 401K either.” “Oops, it’s after 10:00 p.m. No can do on your mom’s upcoming gallbladder surgery.”
Create a safe space where you can both unplug, and you’ll open up opportunities for fun. And the more fun your wife has, the more you’ll have, too.
#4 Popular Advice: Do everything together.
Early in relationships we are drawn together; we can’t get enough of each other.
Over time, we develop patterns of togetherness that may feel more suffocating than comforting. But that’s what relationships are supposed to be, right? Twenty-four hours of non-stop togetherness where we do every tiny thing together, like it or not.
In Mating in Captivity, Esther Perel says, “Instead of always striving for closeness, I argue that couples may be better off … nurturing a sense of selfhood.”
Alternative: Take a break.
Return to something you used to love, or try something new. Always wanted to learn scuba diving? Or speak Swedish? Make independent films?
Start attending concerts again. Or sign up for a class. You’ll feel great about your new skills; you’ll have something interesting to talk with your partner about; and she’ll see you as sexier and more confident than she has in a long time.
#5 Popular Advice: Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Admit it. You’re both guilty.
You’re already at your computer checking email and drinking coffee as she’s on her way out the door for work. You know you should get up and kiss her, but you turn back to your machine and send a cursory, “Have a good day, honey,” over your shoulder.
Or you send her a text, not about anything important really. You’re just reaching out to know someone is there. And she doesn’t respond.
All the small daily rejections in a relationship add up. Each of them is a pinpoint of pain that over time unravels the fabric of your relationship.
Alternative: Reduce micro-rejections.
Target your morning and evening interactions first.
Do you offer a sincere kiss when one of you is leaving for work?
Do you answer calls, texts, or emails while you’re sitting down together in the evening?
Do you both have more contact with your smart phones than with each other?
Pick one small way that you reject your partner each day and change it (and no, you can’t tell her).
Quicker than you think, you’ll notice a shift in how she responds to you—in how she looks at you.
#6 Popular Advice: Talk more.
We live in talk culture hell.
We have to talk about everything down to the minutest detail, deconstructing every interaction, every life event, no matter how minor.
In an intimate relationship, this can leave the less verbal partner feeling minimized. If you’ve ever had a conversation with your spouse and felt worse afterward, while she felt better, you’ll know how discouraging this is.
Alternative: Talk less!
According to Esther Perel, “We naively believe that the essence of who we are is most accurately conveyed through words.”
Explore other ways of communicating with your partner.
If you don’t know your partner’s love language (or your own), take Dr. Gary Chapman’s online quiz to find out. (You’ll need to ask your partner to do this too.) Then once a day for at least a week, do something for your partner using her love language.
If it’s “acts of service,” take the car into the shop for her or call the utility company if she has been dreading it. If it’s “physical touch,” take her hand as you walk down the street together. Or put your arm around her just because.
Verbal communication has its place, but so does gifting our partner in ways that makes them feel appreciated.
#7 Popular Advice: Never look at other women.
Ignoring the female contingent of the population—or worse yet, feeling guilty when you do look—impacts your love life.
But when you see other women as sensual beings, and when you feel like a sexual being again in their company, both your testosterone and your confidence increase. And so will your wife’s attention to you.
Alternative: Look for the sensual in everyday life. That includes (discreetly) checking out other women.
Not in that smarmy “Hey baby,” kind of way. But in the way you would appreciate a Rodin sculpture. Let her fire up your senses as if you had just ridden a motorcycle for the first time and you felt 18 years old again.
Pay attention to your own sensual needs. What do you like to look at? Beautiful paintings, the vibrant colors of fall leaves, the chrome of a hot bike as it glints in the sun? What music do you enjoy? What foods do you love?
Each day this week, find one new sensation that rocks your world. Then this weekend, open your eyes and see your wife like you haven’t for a very long time.
She may not be able to articulate what’s different about you, but she’ll definitely notice.
#8 Popular Advice: Whisper sweet nothings.
Women respond to desire.
On a scale of 1-10, needing to feel desired scores an 11, outranking even chocolate and uninterrupted sleep. Women will do almost anything for a man they know in their heart wants them above all others.
And you may want her. She may even suspect that you want her.
But unless she can feel it, unless her breath catches when she sees that look in your eyes, unless she actually feels a pull deep in her core when your hand brushes hers, or when you kiss her neck, then she doesn’t know that you want her.
Alternative: Want her. And show it!
Those five senses you fired up earlier? Put them to work.
Remember the way she smells or the way she looks in that black dress. Text her and tell her how thinking of her makes you smile—or turns you on.
When she comes home, watch her as she drops her keys in the kitchen, as she takes off her jacket. Put down your damn phone and follow her to the bedroom to witness her undressing.
Don’t whisper that you want her. Scream it from the rooftops. Call her name out loud. Desire her.
#9 Popular Advice: Make love.
As much as women want to be in control outside the bedroom, many (91% in one study) harbor an innate need to be worshipped inside the bedroom in ways that might surprise men who are taught that all women want soft, slow, lovemaking.
As Charles J. Orlando explains, women “want to be afforded pleasure at the hands of someone who is both capable and confident; someone who is secure in their own self and sexuality, and wants to give her as much as she can stand—while finding pleasure for himself in giving.”
This is an area where communication rarely happens on a level that meets both partners’ needs. It should be revisited often, especially as you—and your bodies—change.
The good thing about being with your partner long-term is that there’s time for both frenzied sex and passionate lovemaking. It’s not all or nothing.
You trust her. She trusts you. In the bedroom, that translates to possibilities others only dream of.
Alternative: Connect. Communicate. Adapt.
Initiate a conversation with your partner, asking her if she would like you to take a little more control in the bedroom. Ask what that looks like to her. Find out what her limits are, and tell her what you’re comfortable with. If she’s reticent to share, bring up books or movies that feature passionate encounters and gauge her response. Make it fun.
#10 Popular Advice: Be consistent.
Scheduling sex is touted as one of the best ways to ensure that you and your wife get a little lovin,’ touchin,’ squeezin’ despite your crazy calendars.
But desire requires an erotic charge that’s dampened by predictability.
According to Ian Kerner in his book Passionista, one “downside of scheduled sex is that it rarely meets our own expectations of intimacy and often reinforces the very sense of disconnectedness we’re trying to overcome.”
Alternative: Be spontaneous.
Forget scheduling sex. Instead, think of your erotic encounters as a treasure hunt. You never know when or where the mood will strike, but persistent pirates always get the gold.
Be playful. Explain that you’ll approach her when she least expects it, where she least expects it. Tell her that your intimate connection is invaluable, that you miss her.
Tell her you’re going to make sex fun again.
She’s free to say no, but you won’t give up on her. Ever.
You may encounter a little resistance along the way. After all, any good pirate knows you can’t find buried treasure beneath every palm tree on the beach.
But you’re up for the challenge. I know you are.
She’s too important for you not to be.
When she sees how you value her—when she feels the playfulness of your early relationship return—she’ll soften.
Her eyes will turn languid; her lips will curve into a smile.
So, what are you waiting for?
STOP WAITING FOR YOUR WIFE TO LOOK AT YOU.
Successful relationships aren’t about following clichéd advice.
They’re about doing what works for both of you.
And what works is not burying your head in the sand and pretending it’s going to get better.
What works is knowing that you have the power to make it right.
So stop waiting.
Stop waiting for desire to spontaneously return to your relationship.
See your wife as the woman you fell in love with.
Be the man who captured her heart.
Before you know it, she’ll be looking at you just like she used to.
And without a word, you’ll know …
The answer is yes.