It's hard to ignore the signs that your husband has checked out of the marriage or is pulling away from you. I get many emails from wives who outline several different behaviors - lack of physical affection, spending less time at home, distancing themselves from the family, being overly critical or her or their life together, or just a general but undeniable feeling that something is "off."

Many of the wives will preface the emails with something like "maybe I'm just being too sensitive," or "maybe I'm over-reaching or imagining it." I always tell these women that it is best to listen to what your instincts are telling you and take the action that would improve the situation than to do nothing only to find out later that you were absolutely right but it is too late. (The worst-case scenario here is that you're wrong but your marriage is better.) In the following article, I'll outline ways that you can encourage your husband to return the love that you once shared.

Getting To The Core Of The Problem: It's not entirely necessary, but it's helpful if you can get some insight into why this shift is happening. This way, you can come at the problem with an eye on what your husband is really needing or wanting. Is he under a great deal of stress at work? Is he feeling inadequate or insecure about something? Is he not being fulfilled? Obviously, your goal is ultimately to be his safe haven, the place where he is accepted, appreciated, and loved. It's easier to provide this if you have some insight into what is going on with him.

Sometimes though, this is much easier said than done. Sometimes, men can't even articulate these issues to even themselves. They're not very good at analyzing the situation, much less effectively communicating this to you. Two things that you should look at first is rebuilding intimacy and connectedness and bumping up communication. Almost every marital issue comes back to these two things. If both partners are deeply connected, then very little is going to be able to shake them and any problems that crop up are easier to handle as both people know that the other has their back and only wants their happiness and fulfillment.

Are You Playing This Wrong?: Sometimes, there are two extremes that I see wives take that backfire. The first is what I call being completely over accommodating. This is the wife who feels her husband slipping away and panics. So, she overcompensates and comes on much too strong. She's in her husband's face and following him around and barraging him with questions. Rather than feeling supported, the husband feels smothered and now in addition to whatever else he's dealing with, he suddenly has a needy wife who's putting on a show and not being genuine. I understand the thinking behind this tactic because I tried this myself. But, ultimately I learned that not being genuine or coming on too strong is not at all attractive to men. They want a wife who respects herself and knows that taking care of her husband means also taking care of herself.

The second tactic that I see backfiring is the wife who will mirror the distance. She'll think "well, he'll eventually come around and when he does, he can let me know. I'm not going to go out of my way for him when I'm getting nothing in return." So, what you're getting are two people who are avoiding each other and becoming more and more distant. The awkwardness and the tension build while things are only getting worse.

Hopefully, it's obvious now that I think the best way to approach this is a happy medium between these two. You don't want to be the "yes wife," but you certainly don't want to turn your back on your husband.

Using Positive Rather Than Negative Reinforcement: Fair warning. What I'm about to tell you may read like parenting a kid or training a dog and I don't mean for it to be that way. But, it's a universal truth that people respond better to positive rather than negative reinforcement. If you bring your husband's attention to how unhappy you are and what he's seemingly doing wrong, you're not likely to get a good response.

It's better to come at him from the stance of "I want you to be happy and I notice that you aren't. What can I do to make this better for you?" Now, he's probably not going to come out and list it for you. He probably can't communicate well enough to do that. But, I've researched this with many honest men and I can tell you that what they want is an unbiased ear, unwavering support, repetitive appreciation, and a good deal of affection, time, and attention. They also want to have fun like you did when you were first dating.

So, don't come at him serious and grave. Come at him from a place of loving concern, with a smile, an intimate gesture, and a laugh. Truly, you already know what it takes to make your husband love you very much. You've pulled this off before. But, you have more responsibilities now and it's more of a challenge to take the time and effort. However, you must do this to get back the connection that you had before.

Finally, you need to act "as if." What I mean by that is to act "as if" your husband has already given you what you want. When you catch him showing you some emotion, tell him how good it feels. If you want him to make more time for you, make more time for him. If you want a compliment once in a while, start throwing compliments his way. Eventually, he's going to begin to be more fulfilled and nicer to be around and he's going to begin modeling these things back to you.

Unfortunately, I almost waited too long to change my actions and my words when I felt my husband's love slipping away. Making things better took a 380-degree turnaround on my part, but it was so worth it. I was eventually able to return the love and save the marriage. You can read my that story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com/

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