Most married couples look back fondly on their dating days—when they were filled with desire for each other, stressful encounters were at a minimum, and romance was a big part of their relationship. But often, after couples marry and get settled into routines, desire lessens, stress increases, and keeping the romance alive takes a backseat to real life. Then, when husbands and wives reach a point where they want to put some spark back into their marriage, they are often at a loss for where to start.
According to the book Love Is A Decision, by Drs. Gary Smalley and John Trent, “Romance is the act of keeping your courtship alive long after the wedding day. Put another way, romance is an intimate friendship celebrated with expressions of love reserved only for each other.”
Want to keep real romance in your marriage? Take a look at these 5 things real romance is made of.
Romance is Relationship
First, begin by realizing that romantic overtures will go nowhere if you and your husband don’t have a strong, caring day-to-day relationship: being kind and thoughtful toward each other, asking your husband about his day, how a hobby or special project is going, or even reminiscing together. It’s sharing common interests and just taking the time to enjoy each other’s company, as best friends.
Romance is a Joint Process
Many times a spouse will try to initiate romance with a surprise dinner or a vacation they planned out. But then they’re disappointed when the event isn’t the dream date or getaway they had imagined. It’s not that the recipient isn’t appreciative of the effort but what is fun or relaxing to one person may not be to the other.
Since most people aren’t mind readers, the only way to really know what will impress your husband is to ask. “What is romantic to you?” “What is your idea of a dream date — where would you go, how dressed up would you want to be, what kind of restaurant?” “What kind of vacation would you want to go on: what time of year, where, what kind of hotel, what kind of activities. Find out what your husband likes and take it from there. (Hopefully, he’ll get the hint and ask you what your romantic ideal is. If he doesn’t, find a way to share it with him.)
Romance is a Surprise
Finding out what your husband finds romantic doesn’t mean you still can’t have surprises. Your surprise doesn’t have to be an unexpected date or weekend trip. It could be something simple like a note, a favorite meal or dessert, or offering to take him to that new movie he’s really wanted to see.
Romance is Consistency
As mentioned before, romance isn’t just an event. It’s not putting effort into planning a nice Friday night date and neglecting your husband the rest of the week. It takes a consistent effort. But unless you’re very creative, it may get harder and harder to think of new ways to keep the romance alive. So build up some resources to help you think of ideas. Start by asking your spouse. Then look into buying a book or two on the subject. Smalley and Trent recommend several: 400 Creative Ways to Say I Love You by Alice Chapin; Romancing Your Marriage by Norm Wright; and Do You Know Your Wife?: A Quiz about the Woman in Your Life by Dan Carlinksy. Smalley and Trent also provide their own list of ideas for romantic ideas that cost less than $20, including ice cream picnics and watching each other’s favorite movie together.
Romance is Attention
Focus on each other, not on what else you could be doing. Going to the park for the day? Don’t take the laptop or cell phone. Thinking of baking a favorite dessert for your husband? Don’t wait until you need to ask him for a favor. Are you both going for a stroll on the beach? Talk about something other than the kids, finances, or chore lists. Eliminate the distractions and focus on enjoying your time with each other,
Building a romantic atmosphere in your marriage won’t happen overnight or without a continual effort, but the end result is worth it. Keep the friendship in your marriage strong, plan events centered on shared interests, surprise each other with special tokens of love, and give your husband your undivided attention during your romantic times together.
Share with us… How do you keep the romance alive in your marriage?
Gary Smalley was an American family counselor, president and founder of the Smalley Relationship Center and author of books on family relationships from a Christian perspective.