Is your spouse resistant to going on dates with you and never satisfied when you do? I want to give you a way to create in your spouse a desire to date you.
In my first meeting with clients, I ask three questions that tell me how emotionally connected their marriage is. One is about how often they go on dates. One is about whether they spend daily one-on-one time together, and the third is whether they both enjoy their sexual relationship.
These are the main maintenance behaviors for a romance based marriage. To keep a marriage good, we need to not only do these things, we need to enjoy them as well.
Dating in marriage is essential, not optional
When we don’t enjoy dating, one-on-one time, or sex with our spouse, our relationship deteriorates. We become roommates or business partners at best. Working on improving dating, one-on-one time, and your sexual relationship is the work of keeping a good marriage. For people who already have an emotionally disconnected marriage, we need to work on the obstacles to these three connection activities.
Before people start working with me, they usually try to do activities with their spouse they haven’t done in years. Then, they get distance and rejection. If that is your situation, then you will need to learn the same thing they do:
You can’t start to build a relationship from the point of what you should have been doing. You need to start where your partner is emotionally and build up to the point of doing what you should be doing.
If you and your spouse have not dated for a while, you may need to build your relationship at home before you try going out with your spouse. Success always entails taking the right steps in the right order.
The right time to ask your spouse out on a date is after your spouse has the desire to go on a date with you. It’s your job to create that desire.
You need to develop a single mindset in order to motivate your spouse to date
It helps to have the mindset of a single person. If you were single and wanted to take someone on a date (or to have them take you on a date), most likely you would be treating that person really well. You would have a good attitude whenever you were together. And, you would work to be similar by sharing common interests, by agreeing, and by empathizing.
You would also make that person feel important by valuing what he or she said, by complimenting what they did, and by admiring their abilities. Many of the people who are having no dates or bad dates with their spouse are doing very few of these things. Some people are doing none of them.
I don’t know about you, but I have no desire to go out with someone who is different from me and makes me feel unimportant or wrong. If you are not validating your spouse, you will need to gradually shift to doing so regularly, and away from any kind of conflict and negative attitude toward your spouse. How long you will need to do that before you can date your spouse will depend on how distant you and your spouse currently are.
(Some people are unable to validate their spouse because of some kind of severe behavior their spouse has. In that case, they need to learn how to deal with their spouse’s behavior first. If you are in that situation, consider coaching to learn how to get your spouse to change).
Understanding dating refusal or complaints
Asking your spouse “why questions” is typically not going to get you any useful information and often leads to conflict.
My advice, don’t take the complaint at face value
Most complaints are excuses, rather than real reasons. People often don’t say the real reason why they don’t like something because either they don’t know or their reason is selfish and they don’t want to admit it.
Pressuring people for reasons will get you excuses, which can be misleading.
As a coach, I have a mental checklist of reasons a spouse may be resisting dating. I then look at evidence from interactions in the client’s relationship to determine the likely reason. Here is a checklist of the most common reasons for dating refusal, resistance, or even downright sabotage:
- Your spouse gets too much time with you at home, which reduces desire for even more time together.
- Your dating activities don’t interest your spouse.
- Your spouse is concerned about the financial cost of dating.
- Your spouse doesn’t feel treated like a date when you go on dates.
- Your spouse is anxious about leaving the children.
- Your spouse has unresolved anger toward you.
- Your spouse is having an affair and wants to maintain emotional distance to justify the affair.
Your spouse is not likely to admit to any of these things, except for the reason about the children. Instead he or she will complain about the activity, admit to not feeling well, or claim to need to do other things. If you complain about your spouse’s reluctance to date it will only make your spouse want to date you even less.
You can never complain yourself to a better relationship.
Each of the reasons for not wanting to date has a solution
Although you may want to talk with your spouse or work with your spouse in marriage counseling to improve your relationship, counseling most often magnifies differences and problems. The only time to work cooperatively is when you both want the same thing. If you and your spouse both want to improve your dating, then working together makes sense.
If talking with your spouse will just cause more conflict, then you can do the same work that any single person would do to have more and better dates. To have success with dating in marriage, you need to use the same skills that successful single people use. Much of the work of marriage is maintaining the same kind of relationship we had when we were first dating. That means being attractive and connecting well.
Being attractive promotes dating desire
Make sure that you are appearing and behaving in an attractive way. Although most people think in terms of physical features when they think of being attractive, it is much more than that. Being attractive means both appearing and behaving in such a way that another person wants to be with you.
If you were to make a dating profile, with a photo and a description of your daily routine, would many people choose to date you over others? If not, then you have some work to do in terms of attracting your spouse. If you think many people would be attracted by your appearance and lifestyle, then perhaps you need to work on connection skills.
Using good connection skills for repeated dates
Many single people have trouble getting repeat dates with the same person–even if they can attract them for first dates. This issue is really the same as it is for a married person who is attractive, yet struggles to get their spouse to go on dates.
There are two main skills to use for dating connection
Skill one. Effort, preparation, and thoughtfulness. This is required both for single and for married people, as are all good relationship behaviors. If all your dates are last minute, casual, no preparation let’s go out to the same place we always do kind of dates, then your dates will be more of a way to check off the dating box than something to look forward to with anticipation.
Good dating requires preparation, planning, and variety with many small dates, regular medium dates, and special big dates. Part of dating is the anticipation of the date, which means planning in advance. Minimally, we should be dating our spouse once a week. It’s not so hard to get to two or three if you think in terms of one medium date and a couple of small ones where you go for a walk together or out for a coffee. A bigger date would be an overnight or weekend somewhere.
Skill two. Good connection skills. Connection skills are not about listening and showing interest. Some people are great at showing interest and being friendly, yet lousy at connection. Single people like that get one date only.
Connection is about validation and being similar. People who don’t get continued dates are often not being similar, even though they may be listening well. Think about whether you would enjoy spending time with someone who was very different from you, did not validate you, and did not make you feel important.
Good dating is not about being yourself. It is about being your best self. This is just as important for married people as for single people.
Do you remember when you were single and you used to be your best self when you went out on a date? Well, that is what you need to do when you date your spouse, too.
Recap: The essential skills for good dating with your spouse
If you can develop the mindset of a single person and treat your spouse accordingly, you can enhance your marriage. That means you will appear and behave in an attractive way. You will make your spouse feel like you look forward to your every meeting by being consistently friendly. You will validate your spouse and make your spouse feel important.
If this feels like work to you, that’s because it is. It is the work required to be a good spouse, a good parent, a good son or daughter, or a good friend. Relationships don’t just happen and then happen to stay good. We must work to keep them that way. It is the most rewarding work you will ever do.
However, you need to make sure you don’t spend so much time with your spouse that your spouse takes you for granted or has no more desire for you. Too much togetherness is bad for both single people and married people. You need to be a secure person with your own interests and activities.
The hard-to-get behavior of an attractive person with good connection skills can create desire in relationships that seem to have died a long time ago. I know because for more than 25 years I have been helping people to revive their emotionally distant relationships. Won’t you take the time to learn the skills that can bring you and your spouse close together again?