Everything in your relationship was going great — until it wasn’t. Things used to be so easy, but now everything seems a bit off, and you can’t shake the nagging feelings that your partner is unhappy. So what do you do? The obvious response is to ask them directly, but if you’re not ready to confront those issues head-on or you want to continue to pretend that everything is OK, we totally get it.
For now, however, you might want to keep a lookout for some red flags and whether his unhappiness is a permanent thing. April Masini, a relationship advice columnist, weighed in with her thoughts on what you need to be concerned about and how you can fix certain issues — if it’s not already too late.
The sex wanes
Busy lives aside, if you determine he's just not interested in sex with you, Masini suggests seducing your partner. "It's a way to reconnect and nurture your bond. Set the mood, stow the kids with babysitters or grandparents for the night, clear the clutter from the bedroom (or wherever you want to stage your seduction), put on the music and chill the wine." At that point, the ball's in his court. If he's still not interested, then there are bigger things to worry about than sexy lingerie and candles.
He argues about anything and everything
He feels like he can’t make you happy
Instead, reassure him and let him know you're in this together and if you both make the effort and recognize each other's efforts, things will get better.
He’s stressed about everything
The compliments stop rolling in
"Start complimenting him, and he'll mirror your behavior," Masini suggests. "If you want to jog his memory of his feelings for you, try telling him he looks great, or thank him for things he's doing — and see if has just forgotten his manners, or if there's a deeper reason that he's not interested in making you feel good." If it's the former, that's not ideal either — but better than the alternative.
Important conversations are avoided
He’s got his phone on lockdown
He might be doing something unsavoury but there are two people in the marriage and you have to own up to any part you may have played as well.
Date nights are a thing of the past
She suggests creating romantic evenings yourself but don't go over-the-top so he goes running for the hills. "Start by surprising him with beautiful dinners at home, or suggesting dinners out together. It sounds simple, but it actually takes some energy and it's one of the first things to go. So get it back because it's an important way for couples to feel married."
He stops taking care of himself
Masini believes a compliment goes a long way, whether you're telling how nice he looks, or when he wears his hair a particularly flattering way. Or treat him to some new clothes or get him a gift certificate for a salon or his barber shop. "Don't over do it, but do start dropping breadcrumbs that will lead him towards a makeover. Many times your partner has let himself go without realizing. It may remind him that he likes pleasing you. And if it doesn't, you’ll know there are bigger problems at hand."
He starts taking care of himself
The littlest thing sets him off
The fighting stops all together
"Try something different," Masini recommends. "For instance, try complimenting your partner. Disarming someone with sugar can get them talking."
He barely talks at all
Also? Ask questions — but be cagey. "Don't ask questions that require one word answers. Ask him provocative questions that require a conversation."
He starts hanging out with single or unhappily married guys
According to Masini, "he's looking for interest and support and ideas outside your safe circle, because he's unhappy inside it. This behavior he's exhibiting is a symptom, so don't treat the symptom — treat the underlying problem."
Your partner starts developing relationships with singles
No way, Masini scoffs. "They're problems. He's looking outside the marriage while still in it." Her suggestion? If you don't want to start a fight, hang out with friends you both know and like and "refresh your 'friend system' with new people that you think are good influences and who will be good friends for your husband and for your marriage."