When the sex begins to dwindle (it will) and the obligations start to pile up (they do), rather than settle, sweetly shock your husband. By Anne Roderique-Jones, REDBOOK.
Give him a date, not an obligation
Between driving the kids to school, meetings, and housework – and that’s before noon – keeping things fresh often gets put on the back burner. Make it a priority by tricking him into a sweet surprise. Jessie Dillon of Dallas, TX, and her husband are always trying to get each other to run errands. “It seems that if I’m not asking him to pick up the dry cleaning, I’m having him meet my family for lunch,” she says. “Recently, I decided to surprise him by having him ‘meet me to have his suit tailored.’ He begrudgingly agreed, and when he showed up, I handed him two tickets to a baseball game so that we could enjoy his idea of a great afternoon.”
Celebrate him for no reason
Men like to feel like king of the castle, but often consider themselves neglected between the carpooling, cleaning and cooking. “Anytime a man feels like he’s needed and respected, it makes him feel good,” says Julie Orlov, psychotherapist, relationship builder and author of The Pathway to Love. Gather a few friends and family and cook his favorite dinner; it shows him how important he is to you, that you love him, and that you appreciate what good care he takes care of you and the family. The meal doesn’t need to be a 10-course extravaganza, but since he often ends up eating what’s on your current diet plan or the kids’ mac n” cheese, whipping up what he loves feels truly special.
Make a “thank you” list
Over time, it’s normal to begin to take for granted all the little things your husband does to keep the house going, like always mowing the lawn or taking out the trash. But doing this can make men feel like they’re clocking in and out of a second job. Make a “thank you” list and write out everything you’re grateful for – or better yet, make a big display of giving him a kiss on the cheek for a job well done. Science proves that being generous, whether with kisses, appreciation, or compliments, makes couples feel “very happy” together, according to a recent study from University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project. That generous “thank you” will make him feel like a hero for the day – which is exactly what he craves.
Get out of your sexual comfort zone
For most women, the obstacle to breaking out of sexual humdrum is not being able to relax, so Carin Goldstein, marriage and family therapist and founder of Be the Smart Wife, suggests stepping outside of your comfort zone – literally. According to a recent study by Trojan Brand Condoms, 32 percent of Americans have had sex outdoors, with one in three having hooked up on the beach or at a friend’s place and one in four at their in-laws’ house. If you’re one of the 68 percent who hasn’t, it’s time to get out of your rut.
Repair his beloved, well-worn objects
Doesn’t every man have an old – like, really old – chair from his college days or a favorite pair of ratty sneakers that he can’t seem to throw away? Embrace his well-worn objects by breathing new life into them, rather than throwing them in the garbage. “My husband has a favorite pair of shoes that he wears all the time, and they’re getting really worn-out,” says Lindsay Powers Eichmann of Brooklyn, NY. “There’s even a hole on the bottom of the sole of one. I’m going to swipe them and take them to my favorite cobbler and have them fixed up so he can wear them until they fall apart again.”
Plan a surprise getaway
Sometimes, you just need a break – so take one together, and make it a surprise. “During my eighth year of marriage, I finished grad school and was preparing for a new career, at which point my wife surprised me with the most amazing two-week trip across Italy,” says Joseph Mellio of Springfield, IL. “I’m usually tough to fool and can see things coming a mile away – but this completely caught me off-guard.” Mellio’s wife saved money and planned for over a year without him finding out, reminding him why, after many years, he still loves being married to her so much.
Send him on a guys weekend
Just like you value your girls nights, often complete with copious amounts of wine and Real Housewives trash-talking, men need their bonding time. Surprise your husband by volunteering to stay home with the kids while he heads off on a guys weekend. It’s important for men to have their space to play, tell stupid jokes, and chill – and this doesn’t mean hitting up the strip clubs in Vegas, says Orlov. He’ll probably return from a fishing, camping or game day with his buddies with a throbbing head and smelling like a distillery, but he’ll be a happy hubby and you’ll get the credit.
Leave him sexy love notes – or photos
It sounds simple, but hear us out. With flooded inboxes and constant texts, receiving an actual hand-written, slightly naughty note is pretty special. “My husband travels for work a lot, so I’ll often send along a sexy love note explaining what I can’t wait to do to him when he gets home. I’m not above sending a photo via Snapchat of me in my unmentionables,” says Stephanie Costa of Austin, TX of the iPhone and Android app that allows you to control how long someone can view an image before it’s automatically deleted.
Indulge his hobby
Whether he’s obsessed with a football team, fishing, or paintball, indulging a guy’s passion can make him feel like a million bucks. Although many women think these activities are their man’s chance be away from them, participating – sometimes, not always – is great for your marriage. Olov suggests surprising your hubby by taking a ski lesson or going to the game with him once in awhile. “Whatever you do, whether it’s golf or hiking, do it with enthusiasm.”
Initiate in the bedroom
Women do a lot in relationships, but aren’t always the best at kicking things off in the bedroom. “For women, what holds us back is feeling foolish and being uncomfortable in our own skin,” says Orlov. “But we can actually gain confidence by initiating sex.” She suggests ditching the subtlety – men just don’t care about candlelit dinners the same way we do – and surprising him by getting into bed in sexy lingerie when he thinks you’re settling in for a night of Modern Family. “He won’t care what’s on TV at this point – as long as you don’t do it during the Super Bowl,” she says.