When Nia met Jamal, it was easily the best relationship she’d ever had.
They had so much fun together. They had an incredible connection, and they could talk for hours.
But now Nia and Jamal had been together for just over a year, and it wasn’t the same as before.
In fact, it wasn’t very interesting anymore. She was worried that if things didn’t get better, Jamal was going to get bored and move on.
“What can I do, James?” she asked me.
“Well,” I said, “what have you been trying to do?”
“I’ve been trying to do more nice things for him,” she said hopefully. “Going on date nights, buying him little things I think he’ll like. But it’s not working. He just doesn’t react much.”
“Uh huh.” I nodded. “You’re trying to be more giving, in hopes he’ll remember what a great thing the two of you have going together.”
“Exactly! So why isn’t it working?”
He Doesn’t Appreciate Me
I see so many women do exactly what Nia was doing.
Whenever their relationship feels stuck or rocky, they start doing more for their guy.
They think of things he’d like and plan little surprises.
They dress up for him and try out tips from Cosmo.
They’re even more understanding. They give him as much space as he needs.
They give and they give and they give…
And it changes nothing.
He’s just as withdrawn or moody or stoic as before.
It doesn’t make sense.
Why wouldn’t he respond to the effort you’re putting in?
Surely he notices it. You’re on your best behavior. You’re making everything as nice as it could possibly be for him.
Maybe you even notice him treating you a little bit WORSE than before.
Not only doesn’t he seem to appreciate your efforts, but he acts like he’s irritated.
He treats your homemade meals and romantic dinner reservations as an imposition. He refuses to show any gratitude.
All your gifts are backfiring, and you can’t figure out why.
More Isn’t Always Better
What I explained to Nia was this:
Everyone appreciates the occasional nice surprise.
But when your partner goes on the charm offensive, overloading you with gifts and compliments and extra-sweet behavior, it doesn’t necessarily feel good.
It can actually feel like a sign something is wrong.
Giving too much creates an imbalance in the relationship.
He sees that you are doing much more than him.
It makes him feel as if his efforts in the relationship aren’t good enough or even necessary.
There’s a much better way to bring back the spark in a relationship…
That’s not only easier but a whole lot more fun.
The Power of Play
If you want to bring back the spark in your relationship, don’t DO more for him.
PLAY with him.
Remember how playful you once were in the beginning of your relationship?
You teased each other. You did silly things together. You could just have fun without a care in the world.
It was easier to be playful back then than it is now. Things hadn’t gotten serious yet. You didn’t have a history together. You weren’t trying to merge your lives.
But what I’m challenging you to do is make a few extra moments for playfulness every day.
There are 3 types of play that nourish relationships:
- Playful touch
- Playful compliments
- Playful activities
Playful touch is when you sneak an arm around his waist while he’s standing at the kitchen counter and give him a squeeze. When he looks at you quizzically, you say, “Sorry, I just can’t keep my hands off you.”
A playful compliment is tongue-in-cheek. You say something like, “You’d better not wear those tight jeans anymore.” When he asks, “Why?” you reply, “’Cause I’m tripping over my own feet with my eyes glued to that view.”
Playful activities are silly, ridiculous things you do that have no purpose or reason other than making you laugh.
You could start singing a love song to him in a loud, out-of-tune voice. You could start dancing around him, daring him to join you. You could grab his hand and pull him outside for an impromptu game of Frisbee.
Spontaneous, shared laughter is like couples glue. It sticks you back together again. 🙂
So give it a try.
If you haven’t been playful together for a while, it may feel awkward and a bit embarrassing at first. He might react with confusion.
But persevere. Your embarrassment might just result in both of you laughing even harder.
And never stop playing. As the saying goes, “Couples who laugh together last together.”