Reader Question of the WeekEvery Monday I like to answer a Reader Question. I give some quick thoughts, and then you all can chime in, too, in the comments section. Today we’re tackling a thorny one: “My husband doesn’t spend any time with me!”

I recently received an email that said this:

My husband likes to hang out with “the guys” after work, and he’s rarely home. I’m lonely. Is that normal?

That’s tough, isn’t it? A lot of couples get into these situations where, once they’re married, they rarely spend any time together anymore.

So let me give a few quick thoughts.

First, it is absolutely fine for men to hang out with friends.

They do need male bonding. That being said, everything should be in balance, and if he’s consistently with his friends, and he’s never with you, that’s not healthy for your relationship.

However, nagging rarely helps anything. If you complain about it, then he will feel like he’s being attacked, or that you’re pressuring him, and that could cause him to withdraw further.

You still need a friendship

Let’s just think about the dynamics of your relationship. Often when people marry, they marry because they love each other and they want to be together. But they don’t necessarily have a really good friendship. They don’t necessarily have things that they enjoy doing together (other than sex). So, once you’re married, it’s easy to start to drift apart because you didn’t have regular things that you did together.

Guys, when they don’t have something specific planned, will then often say, “I’ll hang out with the guys, because nothing else is on at home tonight.”

So what I would recommend is that you sit down with your husband and ask what sorts of things he enjoys doing that you can do with him. Does he like to fish? Then start fishing with him (even if you don’t like to fish!). Does he like taking bike rides? Then start riding bikes together. Does he like watching sporting events? Then try going to some. Or take up a new hobby, like tennis together.

Find something that you can do, rather than just hang out at home.

If you have something specific planned, he’s more likely to come home. And if it’s something that he enjoys, all the better! Find ways to laugh together, instead of nagging him to just be home. Saying to him, “Let’s go bowling tonight!” is much better than saying “you never want to spend any time with me.” Be specific with your ideas. Many men don’t want to “just be home”. They need a reason, like something that they are going to do together. Of course, that’s tricky if you have little kids, but see if you can find things to do as a family, or swap baby-sitting with another couple, so you can have some one-on-one time.

Also remember that men tend to communicate side by side, rather than face to face.

"My Husband Doesn't Spend Any Time with Me!" Feel alone in your marriage? Maybe you just need to learn this principle of how we communicate: Men like to talk side-by-side. So what can you DO together?

They like talking while they’re doing something. They don’t tend to like just sitting around and talking face to face, the way we women do. So the more you can find things to do, the more you’ll likely communicate. And if you start laughing and finding things to do together, he’ll probably want to be with you more.

So rather than attacking him with accusations that he doesn’t want to spend time with you, or that you want him to do something that you want to do, try to find things that he enjoys doing that you can do with him, even if you have to stretch yourself or go outside of your comfort zone. The best thing that you can do for your relationship is just to learn to be friends again, so try that out!

Want some specific things to do together? Here’s a post of 2-player games you can play with your spouse. But I’d love to hear what you do together with your husband. What are you all doing to revive your friendship this summer? Let’s leave some ideas in the comments of things that you can do to spend time together!

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