Going into marriage with all these pre-conceived ideas of what romance ought to look like was definitely not a bonus. From the time girls are little, most of us are dreaming of a Prince Charming to sweep us off our feet and ride off into a golden sunset with us on his white charger.
Its not our faults, really. We are raised on fairy tales and the prince and princess always marry and the story ends "Happily Ever After". Just ask my five year old who is obsessed with them already and constantly asks her father and I to tell her the story of when we got married (Bible stories for bedtime from now on and Barbie is going to take a little vacation).
Growing up, my father had a huge collection of records...you know vinyl... Lp's, 45's? I know I'm showing my age here, but I used to pull out his old records and listen to that 'old-time rock n roll". I absolutely loved music of any kind and he had a wide variety to choose from.
Among them, I discovered the Everly Brothers and an old song called 'Dream'. It was redone by Andy Gibb and Victoria Principal in the '80's so maybe some of you might remember that one... but you can check out the song here. Where am I going with this? Well, one line stands out right now "Only trouble is...gee whiz, I'm dreaming my life away."
I wrote a few posts tackling just this problem, you can read them here, here and here, but today let me share with you how my husband and I keep the romance alive in our marriage.
First of all, I stopped reading all those romance novels. Instead, I started focusing on creating romance, using what my husband and I have and not what we don't have. I will say, though, that back in the days of reading about the characters' hot romances made me want to hotly romance my husband too *blushing*, but there are far more negative than positive results from reading a novel and trying to re-create it in one's own life. Having said that, reading is what educated me to what my husband's needs might be, which then opened up the dialogue process.
The right resources can be very enlightening and open the doors to a whole new perspective. There are amazing books out there that can help you to revitalize your relationship as well as your sexual intimacy. Two key elements to romance...in my humble opinion.
Communication is not so over-rated
One thing most of those romance novels have in common is that the man always seems to know just what the woman needs and he does it. Wake up to real life! No one, man or woman, instinctively knows everything about the needs of his or her spouse! That's why you have to communicate those needs. If you express your desire for something, you give your spouse the opportunity to do it for you. If you wait for him to guess you'll be in for a disappointment, which then, for most women, becomes a little bubble of resentment because 'he just doesn't understand you' or 'he's so insensitive'. Men aren't naturally intuitive or considerate as women are. Don't keep him guessing. For years I didn't bother to tell my husband the little things he could do to rock my boat. When I finally started saying them, I was amazed that he, not only would do them with me, but he actually wanted to! What a waste of so many years!
Size Doesn't Matter
Don't wait for 'grand gestures'. The small things count big in romance. Your husband doesn't have to whisk you away on a mini-vacation for it to be romantic. Based on what the media makes romance look like, the poor man may actually think he has to spend a lot of money to make a good impression, roses and expensive wine and chocolate (don't get me wrong I LOVE all that stuff) and certainly if you can have a mini-vacation...go for it! Who doesn't love to get flowers...roses especially?
I suggest, however, that any gesture that says I love you, I'm thinking about you and I wanted to do something to make you happy...that's real romance! My point is romance is about making the other person feel cherished, happy and secure in your love. Its about creating an atmosphere, a chemistry that no sum of money can be applied to.
Romance ultimately is defined by the individual, but for me it is this: any opportunity in which I feel closely connected to my husband and I am the focus of his love and attention is one that I consider to be romantic.
Holding hands...any and everywhere. Sitting close together, a back, foot or (you fill in the blank) rub.
I'm not just talking about the physical kind...that's a given! The kind where your eyes meet and you know each other's thoughts. The kind of intimacy that's bred by soul-baring and knowing each other as no one else ever could.
Words are important but so are actions:
When I was a newlywed I thought that if my husband would say I love you every single day I would be happy. If he could say in words how he felt about me it would be enough for me. Well, he didn't and I felt my little pink coloured glasses crack a bit.
As an older, wiser woman, I came to realise that he could say those words but it was the action behind them that really made a difference. I still get goosebumps when he says something romantic to me, but I've come to treasure the countless little ways he ACTS in a romantic way.
Keeping romance alive can be really difficult as married people who have children, all sorts of responsibilities and the worrisome and burdensome aspects of life. There are so many factors against it sometimes...time, finances (who can feel romantic when you have debts to pay and are short on cash and how can you plan a date night without cash?).
Lack of privacy is a biggie in a house full of teenagers who observe EVERYTHING or young ones who demand all your time and energy in their waking hours. Which brings me to my next point...energy (sorry honey, can't cuddle tonight I'm falling asleep with our youngest while I read her a bedtime story).
My suggestions are:
- Make every moment count. You don't have to go on a date (although that is the ideal) You can hold hands in the car and have intimate moments even doing the shopping (whoops..busted!), snuggle and cuddle on the couch after everyone else went to bed...you get the picture.
- Make use of the media (text, e-mail, Skype). It can be very liberating to know that I can delete stuff after so my husband gets the message without our privacy being invaded.
- Do something different and new every now and then to add some spice to your lives. I sent flowers to my husband's office for our anniversary, something I'd never done before and I prayed he wouldn't think it embarrassing. Guess what? He loved it!
The bottom line, ladies it that romance doesn't have to look like it does in the movies, but when it does...ooh la la! I stuck that one in there for my friend Kris whose husband just whisked her away on a surprise trip. Lucky girl! I hope she's having a ball. I'm not green with envy, really I'm not...I had my romantic interlude with my husband on the couch last night while pulling an all-nighter for a very sick puppy. Doesn't sound too romantic to you? Well, a girl's got to take what she's got and work with it...that's my advice!
Click on the link below to see more on romance from all the lovely ladies in the Marriage Monday community.