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Bring the romance back

Become each other’s life-story coach

If you’re stuck in a romance rut, Dr Keith Ablow offers his advice on how to get the relationship you want with the husband you still cherish.


Ask your spouse to commit to spending 30 minutes a day (15 minutes for you and 15 minutes for your husband) – just for this week – reflecting on the roles you think the two of you have always played in the relationship and why.


What in your husband’s life story – going back to childhood – might be the source of the positive quality you identified? What is the source of the behaviour or quality that has become a source of conflict?


The only rule: both of you must agree to ask at least three questions to uncover the truth. For example, if the peeve you named is your husband’s desire for control, ask him whether it could have come from the chaos he experienced when his parents split. Take the chance to reveal yourself as completely as you can too. If your husband asks why you were so much more demonstrative earlier in the relationship, try to answer honestly.


Design some experiments with each other that allow both of you to move beyond the limiting roles you have played in the marriage. If your husband has been a risk-taker for 15 years while you’ve been a stabilising force, identify a few risks you’d like to take, with his support.


Maybe you’ll discover that your husband doesn’t like the conservative, safe profession to which he’s clung. Maybe you’ll suddenly understand the underlying self-doubt that ties him to his desk. Or perhaps you’ll help him decide to start thinking about a career change. And maybe you’ll be able to share your own anxiety, which keeps you moving from project to project, just like you moved from one city to another as a young girl.


If you help each other grow beyond the roles you’ve each been playing in the relationship, and in your lives, you’ll both be growing. Just as important, you’ll be growing together.

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