I received this question from one of my readers several months ago. I replied privately at the time, but with Valentine’s Day just around the corner (and all the attendant expectations wives sometimes muster up this time of year), I thought it might be a good idea to share my thoughts on this subject here.
Question: What if my husband won’t plan date nights?
What do I do when my husband doesn’t see eye-to-eye with me on cultivating our marriage?
… I have brought to my husband’s attention numerous times (in playful ways, trying not to nag) that I would love to go on a date with him again (I can’t remember the last time we did), spend some time alone, that I need some romance in my life. His response is generally a chuckle followed by a comment that we will “when we have the money.”
It’s been a couple months now… no dates. No change. He is only really amorous when he or I initiate intimacy. We have friends I know would watch our son for free (we’ve done the same for them)…but I fear that if I give up on him initiating this and make all the plans myself, I will just resent him for not “being the man” and doing it himself.
I don’t want to whine to him. I pray about it and ask God to make this a priority to him…. I’ve also prayed that God would change MY heart to be content with the romance in the mundane…. It’s not as easy a fix as I had hoped.
He was so romantic and creative when we were dating! Homemade desserts, hikes, galas, long chats on long walks, and he always initiated it which I LOVED.
How do I get that side of him back?
Any suggestions are most appreciated.
Answer: Take over the planning yourself!
Please forgive me for taking so long to reply. I promise I didn’t forget about you. I’ve been thinking about you a lot and praying for your situation.
Reading between the lines of your letter [abridged for this post], I can almost hear you thinking things like this:
- If my husband really loved me, he’d understand why this is so important to me.
- If he really cared, he would see how desperately I need a break.
- Our relationship is obviously more of a priority to me than it is to him, otherwise, he’d want to nurture it, too.
- Planning dates is really my husband’s responsibility. It won’t mean as much if I do it.
- A real man would want to romance his wife after marriage as enthusiastically as he did before.
- If I give in and start planning our dates myself, he’ll lose all initiative and never plan another.
Let me just say that all these thoughts are lies straight from the pit of Hell. Don’t listen to them.
Don’t listen to lies
Satan is trying to blind you to the wonderful things your husband is doing, by focusing your attention on what he isn’t doing. Don’t fall prey to that trick, or the hurt you’re feeling now will grow and fester until you are completely bitter and malcontented.
It is obvious from the [omitted] details of your letter that your husband is very devoted. He cooks dinner, helps with cleaning, is a wonderful father — all while working on a difficult post-graduate degree.
It’s obvious your plate is very full during this season, as well: working full-time, caring for a toddler, carrying a new baby (which in itself can be exhausting and — as you intimated — can wreak havoc on your emotions). Please just accept the fact that you are in the midst of a demanding time of life, but that all those challenges will eventually pass (to inevitably be replaced by new ones).
You will not always be deprived of sleep. Your husband will eventually finish that degree. Your pregnancy hormones will dissipate once you’ve delivered. Your husband may even rediscover the creativity he put to such good use when you were dating.
Make those reservations
In the meantime, I would recommend that you stop hinting and start acting. If you are desperate for a date night with your husband, go ahead and plan one yourself. Tell him that it’s important to you, but that you know he’s busy with school and are more than happy to make the necessary arrangements, so what day would work best for his schedule? Line up the free babysitting and make it a night to remember.
Let yourself enjoy it just as thoroughly as if he had planned it instead of you. Your carefree smile — with no undertones of resentment or disappointment — will remind your husband of the girl he pursued so creatively when you were dating. And that will be good for your marriage.
When I was dating my husband, he wrote me lots and lots of letters. That really stole my heart, because I’m a big letter writer myself, and I loved the fact that we shared this in common. We’ve now been married 28 years, and I could probably count on one hand the number of letters he’s written me since the wedding (although he often writes himself notes of things he wants to tell me when he gets home from work, a habit I adore).
The letters are no longer necessary, because we are together every single evening and can talk face to face. (We can also do other things now that we’re married that were out-of-bounds before. I’d trade all the romance and creativity and correspondence that characterized our dating for the “mundane” pleasures of married life in a heartbeat.)
Nevertheless, that has not always been my attitude. When I was in your shoes — married just a few years with a couple of babies, roller-coaster hormones, shoestring budget, and a husband working on a very difficult professional degree — I threw my fair share of pity parties.
Although I was completely blind to it at the time, I was being extremely selfish and self-centered. I’m convinced our marriage would not have survived had God not changed my attitude, so that I stopped focusing on perceived shortcomings in my husband and on trying to change him, and instead woke up to my own shortcomings and allowed God to change me.
Let God use stressful times to refine YOU
A friend of mine recently told me of a romantic getaway she and her husband (also a physician) had taken this summer. She was still elated from the wonderful time they had together, and smiled broadly as she explained to me how she’d planned the whole thing herself:
She called her husband’s office and asked the receptionist not to schedule any patients for the days he’d be out of town. She bought the airline tickets and booked the hotel. She packed the bags and then picked him up from work and drove him to the airport.
She said that as she pulled into the parking space, he looked her in the eyes and said, “Thank you! Thank you so much for making this happen.” They both knew it wouldn’t have happened otherwise, as the responsibilities of running a busy practice would have convinced him he couldn’t take time away.
But she also knew that making that time was important for both of them, and in the long run, it really didn’t matter who made the reservations.
More Biblically Sound Marriage Tips
The Word of God is full of wisdom for every facet of life, but we’ve found it especially helpful in building a happy, healthy marriage. For a fascinating look at how science has confirmed the superiority of God’s design, check out my book Love Your Husband, Love Yourself.
I totally agree with you wifefedup! So on point. Thank You!
Kendra Hunt says
I started the planning. Guess what I do all the planning from that day on! I just want him to say hey lets go out…..then we can plan together. Do I get this not at all.
Ok. I get planning a date as a wife when our husbands are busy is good BUT when is it time to expect something from the men? Your post makes me bitter just reading it! It makes women seem negative and unappreciative, when really, is it bad to expect our husbands to reciprocate with more than just their duties as a husband? I too, am having this issue. I appreciate my husband for all his good, but it is one sided on the planning end, showing love, communicating. How do I get him to notice me again, appreciate me, plan something? Don’t tell me to reflect on myself because that’s all I ever do! I’m not perfect and neither is he, but that should not excuse constant complacency. I go above and beyond planning, giving, praising and yet I’m still waiting over here! You can feel my frustration I’m sure.
I disagree, here is why. no one person should be forced to keep the marriage alive and always be the one to keep it afloat. Narcissist put in at the beginning and then bail once the relationship takes off and then leave the responsibility entirely on the spouse. If you think of all the wonderful things your spouse do as a reader says, is it food water, roof over your head and cloths on your back and holiday gifts. Because if you are not dating that is all that is going on. i have been married 17 years and when I tell other married people that my spouse does not but the legal requirements in a marriage, they say “how can you stay in a marriage like that” i would not advise the woman in the article to off and do all that and let him off the hook. She could plan one date and then sit back and see how he steps up. God does not want us to submit to vanity or greed. A person who does nothing spiritual to keep the relationship afloat is vain and greedy. They are greedy because they are taking and not giving. Dates encourage spiritual and emotional bond between two people. You don’t have a wonderful spouse, you have a great room mate. (always willing to pay bills).
When a woman think of great spouse, do she have a spouse who she can talk to about many things, willing to take walks with her and talk, spend some quality time together away from the kids? that is a great spouse, I’m sick of hearing women compliment their spouses just for being a provider of life needs. Our spirit has needs to, it needs support. A family should not functions by just passing responsibilities to the next person when someone else don’t want to do it. First off, if your spouse wanted to date you he would? He is not making you a spiritual priority. Now I am sure there are fun things he do in his own time even with you around, like watching t.v. He will make time for T.V. but not for alone time away from the kids?
You are a emotionally abandoned wife and doing all the work to bring you two emotionally together, is not your job. A spouse that loves you, you tell, how you feel and what your needs are and they are suppose to honor and obey, provided that those needs don’t ruin your spirit. How can a date in which you bond spiritually and emotional ruining your spirit and pollute your soul? It can’t, so your spouse need to honor and obey.
People honor and obey is not just the wifes duty, and that is what is not being addressed in the reply to the woman. I would recommend the lady to ask him to go to counseling with her. that way the counselor will instruct him of what he should be doing and if he don’t, she has it on record and the divorce will be recommended by a counselor and be seen as her having no choice. One thing women also need to realize is, if he is not dating you, he has another companion, it doesn’t matter what or who it is, he just do. It could be t.v., video games, after work dates, weekend trips to the bar, his garden. People will find substitutes for their spouses when they no longer have the desire to be with them. this is something married people to recognize. My spouse has chosen food and t.v. and beer. Before all that, he always asked me to go places. It started with him, hanging more out with friends and drinking, then eventually staying home and just doing it all at home. Once a month he will spend an hour or so with a guy friend or someone from work. But notice I never said he spend any date time with me. I have brought this to attention 9 weeks ago, he keeps promising to date me but never do. his idea of a date is laying up in bed together with of a course a movie he picked out. no matter what I got to share date with his companions and it got to be in a bed, where he can touch my body any way if he wants. Notice i never said any talking or emotional bonding happening. I mentioned this and he said he don’t talk during movies. He is using movies, beer, garden, optional over time at work, to simply not be emotionally involved in his marriage. I have decided that if nothing changes at the end of this year, I will be packing while he is at work and leaving.
Now before anyone go off and ask me what I have done. I have done many things to show him my love and to get him to date me. I have given him so much attention and the stage in every family activity. He has got massages, pedicres, my baths….etc, he gets his favorite food cooked. I have got one massage for 10 minutes in 17 years. Yet I am the one with a spine disease. I actually mentioned things we can do together, some of my likes, ways he can look up things on the internet that are inexpensive and surprise me and take me to, also things I like to. i’m very selfless and kind when I am selfless. I brag about him to other while he is around, I compliment him honestly in front of others, I say “you have the most gorgeous hair, you are so lucky to have such thick beautiful hair that grow so fast” and others will notice and say “yes you do.” He says nothing about me, ever. just the other day a guy at our church picnic brought up poetry, I informed him that I was an accomplished poet, of a distinguished writer award, the guy was blown away and said he is amazed to be talking to me, i must be very intelligent. Well my husband interupted to talk about something other than me. He never said anything about me. I walked award pissed. cause we talked about him, not boosting me up, like I do. Well then he goes and has like a 1 hour conversation with the guy, which judging by my husbands body responses he was bragging about himself, like he always does. He spent the entire church picnic talking to unmarried men, while the married men stayed with their wives. Last I checked, we were married to. People knew I was with my husband so they kept looking at me strange as I sat alone alot. He gets affection from me, and I have had to grovel for it. Unless he wants sex, which is rarely I barely get even held. Well I have decide I won’t deal with my narcissistic husband another year, I am gone if nothing changes in the next few months. I will be back on my feet like I want financially.
Wow I feel like I could have wrote this!
Wifefedup respons that is!
Kendra Hunt says
I know the feeling. Being married to a narcissist sucks! I do all the giving and he does all the taking. I ask him how his day was and he doesn’t even ask me in return. I have to say do you want to know how my day was.. Pisses me off.
Rasheed Jeffries says
Lol , you women crack me up, the fact is a lot of you are lazy…. Not all but some. Marraige is total vs anyway, most my friends are still living they life, taking trips, have money saved up, nice cars, etc. While all my money goes to my wife, we are in financial debt, and she only wants to hang out with her girl friends. Guys should not get married, a lot of you women use men for a good time to meet your needs, that’s it.
Lol…wow ok. Well, I just wanted to comment on the latest comment and it happened to be yours. I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion but to respond to all the above I’m going to break this down from my perspective. I have been a wife for almost 16 yrs, have an MBA, in the Army, the breadwinner, two kids, ages 15 and 9. My husband is awesome, great father, great friend, terrible romantic. I will support him in anything he chooses to do.
I say all this so you can see I’m educated, work hard, have kids, married awhile, to a good man. I’m far from lazy, when we married I made more than he did and still do. We took turns as the breadwinner though so let’s not get it confused. Now he is back in school full-time. He wanted to marry I was hesitant, the only thing I wanted from him was his love and to try to live a Christian way…the whole having sex thing and all.
He cooks, I clean, we share most of the kids activities, but if I’m not the one pushing it or reminding him it won’t happen. I pay the bills. I plan every family vacation, date, anniversary, holiday, time away from the kids etc. I started doing it in hopes of showing him how. I felt like I should give what I expect. I can’t ask him to do something and not do it myself. So I ask and wait, like the young lady in the original message. 16 yrs later, I still do it all, as well as ask and wait.
Every marriage is different and I am a fan optimism. All I can say is continue to pray and be patient. I have faith and some may call it a testimony in itself. In the meantime, I learned to date myself. I take myself to the museums, different towns, out to brunch, and spend a little something on myself as well. I don’t have answers but I’m looking. If anyone has any answers out there that don’t call women lazy and they know their husbands love them but just lack romance skills, let me know.
If anything tell me how to get over desiring something I consider simple like having my man come up with a date to something like an art exhibit or walk thru a nice park, please let me know.
It’s only been 16 yrs. Just saying
I really love this post (and many others)! I’ve been reading your blog for a few days now and using your “praying from head to toe” printables daily. They’re really helping change my attitude towards my husband in a good way!
I do have a question about the planning it yourself aspect-my husband REALLY doesn’t want to go out and has told me so. So what if I take the initiative and plan it, and then he gets upset for “forcing the issue”? I could see it going either way.
Jennifer Flanders says
I agree. There is a big difference between planning a date for a husband who is agreeable but busy, and forcing the matter with a husband who has made it clear he does not want to go out. Some husbands are extremely introverted, and do not enjoy being in a crowd. Others are stressed by financial burdens, and don’t see how they can find money for expensive dates on a regular basis. Or maybe he is just tired after a long day at work and prefers to relax at home.
If something like that is at work in your marriage, I suggest discussing with your husband some acceptable alternatives. If he doesn’t like crowds, pick something isolated. If he’s concerned about spending money, pick something cheap. If he’d rather stay at home, find something you can do together there that will draw you closer together.
Dates do not have to mean candlelit dinners or blockbuster movies. Consider his interests. Would he like to go fishing, just the two of you? Does he like cars? Maybe you could go to a local show room and take a test drive. Gardening? Pull weeds together and visit while you do. Monday night football? Learn the rules of the game, make a big bucket of popcorn, and sit on the couch beside him cheering on his favorite team. You get the idea. Adapt yourself to him, and learn to take enjoyment in the things that interest him.
Thank you ☺️ the main issue at play is that we live out of the country with his parents and he doesn’t want to ask them to watch our two daughters (5 yo & 2 yo) and also he just had no desire to do anything out of the house because he doesn’t like the country we are living in and “we’ve never been a dating kind of couple anyway”. I think I’ll try to find something to do at the house, maybe after the girls are in bed and his parents are doing something on their own.
Thank you for your godly advice! It’s much appreciated and much needed!
Jacqueline @ Deeprootsathome.com says
I love this post and am having a wonderful time exploring your encouraging blog. I write a Titus 2 women’s blog called Deep Roots at Home. I would like to ask permission to re-print this post as a guest post and link back to you at the intro and the end if you agree. I would need a short bio and a profile pic. I would also include the revitalize your relationship photo at the bottom and provide links to the books on Amazon.
In order to keep the SEO good for us both I would change the title.
I appreciate your time and thoughts on this.
Jennifer Flanders says
I would be honored for you to do that, Jacqueline. I will send you the profile pic and other requested information in the morning. Thanks for asking! Love your blog!
Nettie Romine says
Jennifer, thank you so much for the encouragement in this area. The lies and tricks of Satan can easily beset us, whispering doubt and self pity. Ephesians 6:11 says ,Put on the armor of God that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Your article discusses just that. Thank you again, I’m encouraged once again.
I’ve found that the Dating Divas have some amazing suggestions for keeping the romance alive by coming up with many different date night options. Check out http://www.thedatingdivas.com! 🙂
Racheal Torres says
No matter how long one is married and how great the marriage is, it’s good to be reminded to be patient with one another and think upon the wonderful things our spouses do for us. I too felt like the young woman who wrote in. Of course I was young with little ones. We made a conscious decision that I would stay home to be with kids. At times it was overwhelming. I believed the lies of the enemy. My husband was a hard worker, devoted husband and father, yet I saw a man who worked so much he wasn’t home enough with me. I realize now how selfish I was. I had it the best….daily being able to stay home and care for our children while he had to endure the everyday grind of work, deadlines, customers and he became weary doing good. Sadly, our marriage fell apart. We separated for years with divorce papers in the works…BUT God had a plan so much higher than ours. This year we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. I don’t need a date night anymore because to me everyday is a date night with this man. I can be reading & he can be watching TV…he’s with me…not out with friends, but with me.
Thank you, Jennifer, for having the courage to share the truth in a Biblically firm, but loving way! When I reflect on my own shortcomings first, and how patient my husband is with me, it helps me to be patient with him also. Selfishness is such a relationship destroyer, and something we are prone to. I’m going to arrange a lovely date soon and surprise my wonderful, hardworking husband. By the way, we have been married for 40 years! Thanks be to God. 🙂
Jennifer Flanders says
Forty years! That is a wonderful testimony! I suspect your husband will enjoy whatever you plan. Keep up the good work. Your message made my day. 🙂
Adeola Mojirade Oyinloye says
This is what am passing through presently but thank God for the advice.l will try and plan one myself and see how it goes.