One of my test surveys was of fifty men on a retreat. When I asked the question “Do you yourself desire romance?” one of the men answered, “Yes, very much,” but added in the margin, “but we have different definitions.” That led me to want to find out what definitions of romance women may have missed.
Chick flicks, candle-light dinners and long walks on the beach may be your idea of a romantic date, but your husband may have some ideas of his own. Despite their tough guy exteriors, you’d be surprised to know that most men desire romance— just not the kind of romance you have in mind.
Redefinition of Romance #1: Playing together is very romantic
Men want to go out and do things together and view that as incredibly romantic. Playing with their wives makes them feel close and loving and intimate; it offers an escape from the ordinary, a time to focus on each other—all things that women also want from romance.
Most married men don’t want to abandon their wives to do “guy things.” They want to do “guy things” with their wife. If you see a woman out playing golf with her husband, I guarantee that all the other guys are jealous. Perhaps you, like me, have been missing opportunities to enjoy a romantic time with your husband just because you didn’t realize it was romantic!
Redefinition of Romance #2: Romance without sex may not feel complete
Men consider sex a part of romance. It doesn’t always have to be connected, and it doesn’t have to happen at the same time—but trust me, it’s in the back of his mind.
Consider these representative interview comments:
“It is hard to delineate romance without sex. It’s all part of it. If men are romantic, they want sex. If there were no moral or societal constraints, romance would always lead to sex.”
“I love setting up a romantic evening, but it is a lot of work for me. And I don’t think my wife realizes that when I am being romantic, I’ve got a very specific endpoint in mind. So sometimes there’s intense disappointment after all that work!”
“The guy is thinking, If romance is about feeling emotionally connected, and sex is my way of being emotionally connected, and we’re already being romantic, then why not now?”
Another man brought up an unfortunate dynamic where a husband uses romance to get sex or a wife uses sex to get romance. But he provided an alternative view:
“If a wife only “gives” sex to get something she wants, that is so hurtful to a guy. Sex should not be made a payout after a guy works to earn his wife’s favor. A guy wants romance not to somehow manipulate sex, but to re-experience the spark of dating, to reconnect after days of draining work at the office, to feel love and intimacy, to know he is wanted and enjoyed, and to utterly escape the crushing nonstop pressure of life. And sex can be a wonderful part of all that. Romance is all about escaping—escaping with the person you love and discovering to one’s monumental delight that she too wants to escape—with me!”
Clearly, just as we want our husbands to love us in the way we need to be loved, our men want the same. And sex is a huge part of making them feel loved.