Now that you’re married, has the romance gone out the door? It’s easy to have happen. It takes a little intentionality to not let it leave with all the busyness and ordinariness of day-to-day living. What is romance, anyway? And, is it really necessary?
My Unofficial Definition of Romance
Well, my unauthoritative definition of what is “romantic” has come to be: “Dynamic Attentiveness coupled with Gentle Tenderness”. Before marriage, he knows where she is every moment. Arm over the back of her chair, he leans toward her, gazing into her eyes at their favorite restaurant. When he is not there, she is thinking of him, waiting to be with him. She’s aware of his presence and knows if he’s looking at her from across the room. He can’t take his eyes off of her.
He calls her “sweetheart” and she takes care of his every need with tender-loving care. She looks up at him with eyes that say, “I know you can do anything. And you could have chosen anyone, but you chose me.” He caresses her face and she tenderly moves a stray hair from his forehead. Loving tones characterize their relationship.
Attentiveness and Gentleness
This is simply making someone *feel loved*. While this kind of romantic focus realistically can’t be continued 24/7 throughout our married life (or we wouldn’t get anything done!), when’s the last time you looked at him and communicated that, in your eyes, he can do anything!
What’s Your Love Language?
This is men’s universal language: respect, but we also all have a Love Language, which, when spoken, makes us sit up straight and take notice. When someone speaks our Love Language, we understand, and feel profoundly loved. Isn’t that at the core of romance?
Are Date Nights Necessary?
Following are some simple ideas for saying “I Love You” that they’ll understand this Valentine’s Day. (Or any day!) While you don’t have to get a babysitter for most of these, I would like to punctuate these ideas by saying, “Having a ‘date night’ (or at least a date on these special holidays) is a fabulous idea to keep your love alive and remind yourselves that you’re a couple, not just mom and dad.” Start a habit that will help, not hurt, your marriage.
Showing Affection In Front Of Your Children
However, I hasten to add that, your children need to see you showing some affection (appropriately) towards each other at home. Little children will giggle and act embarrassed, but don’t always send them away. And, I might add, that the popular notion that you *need* to “get away” for a weekend or a vacation without your children in order to have a good marriage, is simply not true. Perhaps just the opposite.
Children should be included in, for example, getting that “special meal” ready for Daddy, even on Valentine’s Day. They should see you kiss occasionally and hear you say, “I love you so much.” There is nothing more secure for a child than knowing that Mommy and Daddy love each other. This is also their training ground for how they will act in their own marriage, as well.
Determining Your Spouse’s Love Language
First, if you don’t know what your honey’s Love Language is, think about how he shows *you* love. We ladies tend to fall back on our own Love Language at birthdays, anniversaries, and Valentine’s Day–we know what we would like, so surely they would like it, too, right? Well, how’s that workin’ for ya? If not so good, try looking at how he shows you love for some clues to what makes him feel loved.
Words of Encouragement
Does he write you little “love notes”, buy you cards, and easily say words of affirmation and encouragement? Is he a talker? Then, quite possibly, “Words of Encouragement” is his Love Language.
Love Language of “Physical Touch”
Is he quick to give you backrubs and loves to hold hands, or puts his arm around you whenever possible? Does he hug his buddies in a manly way in greeting when they get together? Does he frequently touch the arm or shoulder of the person that he’s talking to? Well, then, a good guess is that “Physical Touch” is his LL. These examples are ways you can show him love, too.
If Your Sweetie’s A Server
If your sweetie’s a “Server” he will really appreciate little signs that you love him, such as: washing his car or truck and cleaning out and vacuuming the inside, too; ironing his shirts and having them all hung neatly in the closet; and doing whatever tedious tasks are draining him will also shout “I love you” to a “Server.” Another way to show love to your Server spouse is to make his favorite meal from scratch, including dessert!
Any Man Will Like This
Remember to serve him by setting a pretty table and doing those little extras (Does he especially like his coffee piping hot? Or does he love your homemade salad dressing that takes a little more effort to make? Or does he like it when all the dishes are cleaned up before you sit down to eat?) Whatever you know he prefers, do those little things that say “I love you.”
If your spouse’s Love Language is “Quality Time,” obviously they will just want “time” with you. But something we tend to forget is that all husbands want and *need* our focus and attention to be on them when we’re together sometimes. Distracted time can be worse than no time at all. He wants you to be there–all there–too, sometimes, and look in his eyes, listen to him, asking appropriate questions which prove you’re listening–and really show you care.
Now, if your guy is one whose Love Language is “Quality Time”, he may feel very loved when you just spend time side-by-side with him. Even just being there while he’s working on something makes a guy feel loved (go figure!) So, you don’t have to go out and spend a lot of money on some big outing. Just go with them and be there alongside them while they’re doing something that *they* enjoy; you don’t even have to be talking(!) And, don’t act like a martyr! Talk about a romance-killer! Who wants to be with a martyr? This is the attitude that, “Now I’ve made the *supreme sacrifice* of doing this activity that I hate with you, because you love it, and now *you really owe me*!” Better to find an activity that both of you can enjoy, than to have a martyr attitude.
But, do a heart checkup: If I can’t sacrifice a little time doing something that maybe isn’t my favorite thing to do, to communicate that I love you, how much do I really love? Have I become “me-centered” and selfish in my relationship? If your hubby has a project which takes his time away from being with you, see if you can figure out how to go and be with him while he’s working on it.
Shoulder to Shoulder Time
Many years ago, before we had any kids, and before I had ever heard of this idea, my husband did some reupholstery work on the side to make a little extra money, and he rented a heated garage a little ways from our home where he would go to work on his projects. I got tired of feeling “jealous” of his projects. So, I would go and set up a chair and sit and do handwork, sometimes talking, but mostly just being there with him. To a guy, you don’t have to be talking to each other, to connect. Try this, and believe me, he’ll feel loved.
The best-known Love Language (and especially emphasized at Valentine’s Day) is “Gift-Giving”. If gift-giving is difficult for you, but your spouse speaks this language fluently, you would do well to study up! There’s going to be a test at the end! A gift-giver gives not only a gift, but time, thought, energy and love with every gift! They tend (for right or wrong) to expect the same from us!
A Wonderful Story
There’s an old story (which I am paraphrasing) of an island-dwelling man who walked miles to obtain the perfect gift, a shell of great beauty and value, and when he gave the gift, the object of his affection exclaimed compassionately her sorrow that he’d had to make such a long journey for the gift! The answer was: “Long walk–part of gift!” How far are we willing to “walk” to say I love you? Take time to think of what would make your spouse feel really special. Often, they will give hints, if you are paying attention! They will make a comment, or admire something wistfully, in your presence. If you’re alert you’ll make a note, and go to whatever effort is necessary, to get it. Why will they feel special? Because you were paying attention, and the time and effort “are part of the gift”! Tell your spouse that you went to 10 different stores to find just the perfect gift, if you did!
The Perfect Gift
Stating the obvious, Valentine’s Day isn’t the time for that “practical” gift, (unless you’re married to an engineer, like me). Don’t you love the “In the Doghouse” commercials from 2008 that JCPenney has been running recently and over the last couple of years? They are successful and hysterically funny…because they’re so true! They are meant more for men than women, but I still say that if you’ve been getting into trouble with the gifts you’ve given lately, watch these commercials and take notes.
This is not to say that your gift has to cost a lot of money, or that only a jewelry gift will do for women! Not at all!! That would be missing the point. Your gift should cost something of *you* and be thoughtful of him and his likes. A handmade, but lowcost, gift that you put a lot of thought into, may be the most special gift of all! To a spouse with a gift-giver Love Language, that will say “I love you” in a way they can really receive.
Studying Your Mate
So, study your mate and think and pray about how to say “I love you” so they feel loved. It isn’t about you feeling good, but making your spouse know how much you care. Don’t belittle the way they’re wired, though it may make no sense to you. If all else fails, ask them, “How can I tell you how much I love you this Valentine’s Day?” and mean it, and be ready to take action, if they give you suggestions. By learning to speak your spouse’s Love Language, and with thought, attention, and gentle kindness, romance will be alive and well in your marriage, at Valentine’s Day and every day!