(And what you can do to turn it around.)
A few weeks ago I was in the middle of a coaching session with a male client when he said the unthinkable: "If I met my wife today I wouldn’t marry her." Ouch.
His brutally honest comment stuck with me long after our session ended, and got me thinking about the ways people in relationships change throughout the years. Oftentimes I'll see a couple who have been together so long they've stopped trying to treat each other well. Making an effort doesn't seem worth it anymore, so they just settle into a comfortable complacency, where each person transforms into mere shadows of their former, vibrant selves.
And that, unfortunately, is when many marriages begin the journey to divorce.
Now, is there a way to prevent this from happening? Absolutely! But it requires putting your pride aside, taking an honest look at how you've changed over the years, and being open to reconnecting with your best self.
To get you started, I've compiled five of the most common ways women change for the worst, and what you can do to turn it around and remind your husband why he fell in love with you all those years ago.
1. You no longer respect and/or like your husband.
Think back to when you first fell in love with your husband. He was probably someone you really respected — or at very least liked a whole lot. But after ten years together, instead of laughing when he makes his corny jokes, you roll your eyes. Instead of listening to his long-winded stories, you interrupt and tell him to hurry up. Instead of complimenting the good in him, you criticize the bad.
The solution: Acknowledge that you've turned into a critical woman, and then shut your mouth. Seriously. Only look for things that you love and respect about your husband, and if you can't think of anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. You obviously married him for a reason; you just have to stop being a Critical Cathy long enough to reconnect with the man you fell in love with.
2. You stopped taking care of yourself — physically and emotionally.
When you first met your husband, you probably went to great lengths to be your best self. You got your hair done, wore makeup every day, exercised regularly, and stayed in control of your emotions. But as the years went by and his place in your life became more permanent, all those efforts just didn't seem so important anymore.
Face it: you let yourself go, and your husband noticed. It's normal to lose steam, especially if you were telling yourself that you were getting dressed up for him, or staying fit to be more attractive to him. It won't stick unless you do it for you.
The solution: Acknowledge that you've let yourself go and start reconnecting with your best self. Find an exercise you love, like Zumba or running. Start wearing makeup again. Get dressed every day, even if you have nowhere to be. Ask yourself if your emotions or mood swings are hurting or helping your bond. Commit to improving yourself, just like you did when you were single and dating.
3. You have no life.
Women have a tendency to stop doing the things they love once they settle into a relationship. Unfortunately, this is the kiss of death for long-term relationships and marriages. You have to maintain your life outside of the relationship, and continue (or reconnect with) the hobbies you loved when you were single.
The solution: Stop putting yourself last and reconnect with your old hobbies. Go to a weekly yoga class with a girlfriend who you never get to see anymore. Sign up for a pottery class. Make time for coffee with friends. Force yourself to get out and see people other than your kids and husband.
4. You have no passion for life and new experiences.
It's a myth that men love young women. The truth is, men love women with a youthful energy. That means passionate women who are excited about life and new experiences. If you've lost your hunger for life and you feel like your most exciting days are behind you, it's going to affect the way you feel about yourself — and the way your husband looks at you.
The solution: Change up your routine and start living again. Join a book club. Attend town meetings. Volunteer at a food bank. Get involved in politics. Start a side business. Find something that you can be passionate about and I guarantee your husband will start to see you in a sexy new light.
5. You're more of a mom than a lover.
Be honest: Do you still treat your husband like your man, or are you all, "Eat your vegetables" and "Rinse your dish before you put it in the dishwasher"? Do you give him the stink eye when he orders fries instead of the salad, or do you choose his outfits because you don't trust him to select an appropriate tie?
If you're taking care of your husband the way you take care of your kids, you're not letting him be a man — and it's going to turn him off.
The solution: Leave him alone and let him be him. And really, in the grand scheme of things, who cares? Is it really the end of the world if he chooses to wear an embarrassing tie to dinner?
Also, encourage him to have "man time" by himself, doing the things he enjoys. And then, when he comes home, let him tell you about it. Don't roll your eyes when he tells you how he changed the air filter in the car. Just listen, and be happy that he's doing his own thing and being your man.
For more proven and practical relationship advice, visit Heather Baker's website.