Help! How Do I Get My Husband to Court Me Again?

Dear GoodTherapy.org,

I have been married to my husband for 12 years and I love him with all my heart. I would never dream of leaving him, so I want to get that out of the way right off the bat. But there is no question the spark in our marriage has faded over the years, and it leaves me wanting in some ways.

When we first got together, things were pretty hot and heavy. After we got married, and especially after we had kids, things cooled off considerably. I recognize that this pattern is probably typical. We still treat each other like best friends and do sometimes have sex (great sex, by the way), but the courting has stopped. That’s why I’m writing. I miss being courted. I am sure we both take it for granted that we are a couple and I’m sure day-to-day life saps opportunities for romance, but I miss the feeling of being wanted, the thrill of the chase, the sense that being together is not a given but rather a choice.

I have mentioned a couple of times that I miss date nights, flowers, simple gestures, things like that, and while it’s usually met with a hug, a smile, and an “Aw, I love you, babe,” it hasn’t resulted in any meaningful attempts on his part to court me again. I feel like he’s not taking me very seriously. And I suppose I wonder just how serious I am, since I am very happily married even though I feel like things could be even better.

So I’m not sure what to do, basically. Should I just be happy that I am happy? Do I need to take initiative by courting him? Am I being stupid or selfish for wanting to be courted? Is courting even something I should expect at this stage of marriage? —In His Court

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Dear Court,

No, you are absolutely not being stupid or selfish! It’s totally normal to miss the romance, passion, and excitement that typically exist in the early days of a relationship. It is also totally normal for it to have faded. Relationships, like most things, evolve and change over time. After 12 years of marriage and children, there are probably some aspects of your relationship that have deepened and grown—perhaps a sense of trust, commitment, and security.

While acknowledging the positive changes in the marriage might offer valuable perspective, it certainly doesn’t mean you aren’t entitled to miss the thrill of being wanted and pursued. So the question becomes what can you do to try to get some of that fire back? You asked if you should take some initiative by courting him; I think that might be a great place to start. Show him what you want by giving it to him, in whatever way he is most likely to recognize its value and embrace it. Perhaps he will be excited by the spark to the marriage and follow suit.

You asked if you should take some initiative by courting him; I think that might be a great place to start.

You say you have mentioned a couple of times that you miss date nights, flowers, and simple gestures. This makes me wonder if you have mentioned this in passing … a couple of times. If this is the case, it seems quite possible your husband doesn’t have a real sense of how much this means to you. He might better understand how important this is to you if you sit down and have a full conversation about this, as opposed to a passing comment here and there.

If neither of the aforementioned approaches produces the change you are seeking, you might want to partner with a couples therapist. It might seem excessive to consider seeking therapy when you describe yourself as happy and loving your husband with all your heart. However, you also describe yourself as wanting. Couples therapy can be valuable during times when a marriage is in pretty good shape but there is a little hiccup or identifiable room for growth. At this stage, given the relatively happy state of your marriage, couples therapy can be quite effective in a short period of time.

Kind regards,

Sarah Noel, MS, LMHC

Sarah Noel
Sarah Noel, MS, LMHC, is a licensed psychotherapist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. She specializes in working with people who are struggling through depression, anxiety, trauma, and major life transitions. She approaches her work from a person-centered perspective, always acknowledging the people she works with as experts on themselves. She is honored and humbled on a daily basis to be able to partner with people at such critical points in their unique journeys.
  • 5 comments
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  • Josh

    April 24th, 2017 at 2:13 PM

    turn it around
    and ask yourself
    are you still courting him?

  • Merritt

    April 25th, 2017 at 2:41 PM

    Why is it that so many of us after having been married for a long time, we forget that being married isn’t something easy that will come naturally to us? It is something that ebbs and flows just like the erst of life., and to make it continue to work and thrive it has to be tended much like our gardens and our yards. This isn’t something that you just do and then can say ok, that’s that we are married now so everything should be peachy keen. You must nurture it and grow it, make it lively, and there will times when one of you feels like you are doing more work than the other. That’s fine it isn’t a competition, just know that you give what you get.

  • cely

    April 26th, 2017 at 7:39 AM

    I too feel like I am left with a void, but how do I tell him that without making him think that I’m not happy with our marriage?

  • Harrison

    April 26th, 2017 at 1:35 PM

    Can I confess that since we have had our children, whom I love more than anything in this world, but married life hasn’t quite been the same for me? She is tired, I am tired and after caring for the kids and taking care of their needs I honestly don’t feel like there is much left for either one of us to give to each other. It feels selfish and I always think that when the kids grow older we will have time for one another again.
    I am afraid though that if we don’t find some of that time for each other now then there may not still be a future to grab onto once the kids have moved on.

  • Kara

    April 27th, 2017 at 10:49 AM

    How about stop waiting on him and determine that it is time for you to make the first move?

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