Romance, in a marriage, is what reminds us of what we dreamed for the relationship. It's said that "men give love to get sex, and women give sex to get love".
Hogwash. Both men and women are affected deeply by the romantic underpinnings of a developing relationship. Men get weak-kneed at a whiff of their beloved's perfume, and it's not because the blood starts flowing somewhere else. They're taken by the romantic, by the emotional connection that promises to fulfill a need to deep for any psychologist to unearth.
The trouble is that after a few weeks of a shared bathroom and shared checkbook and "I didn't know she snored", romance begins to fade. It's not a question of "the hunt successfully completed" and the focus turning elsewhere - men want to be in love with their wives, but they begin to forget how to Keep the We. Men will start reverting to their 'single' way of thinking, and start looking for ways to spend time with their friends, watch sports, or spend Saturday loafing.
It's not entirely their fault (mostly, not entirely). Women will often move from a focus on the relationship to a focus on nest-building. A hug or cuddle will be interrupted by a request to have a look at color swatches, and weekends get programmed with what will soon be referred to as honey-do lists.
It doesn't have to be this way. A few simple things, if practiced, will help to keep the flower healthy and watered, and won't let it become a pressed rose, drying in grandfather's Bible. One of these is Date Night; here are some suggestions...
- Recognize that keeping romance alive takes work - It didn't take work during courtship - it was "the work". But now romantic time has to compete with domestic life, and unless it's given priority, it's guaranteed to lose. Why? Because the person who wants to spend 'couple time' when there are tasks to be accomplished will be seen as less effective, and 'dreamy'. It's pride at work.
- Make dates - set aside time at home for a movie, or time for a night out. Make that time special - if you're at home and want to wear PJ's while watching, fine, but shower, put on cologne or perfume, and use your nice PJ's. If you're going out - even to McDonald's - dress up.
- Celebrate the dates - make some sort of permanent record of your date nights - a note to one another, or a picture, or a pair of saved movie tickets, in your scrapbook.
- Keep the memories - speaking of scrapbooks, keep one that's devoted to your relationship - not the kids, not the family, not the dogs, but just the two of you.
- Guys, watch your hands - when you're cuddling on the sofa watching, well, whatever, guys, keep your hands where they could be if your pastor would walk in and join you. It's important for women to be wanted sexually, yes - but it's much more important to be respected. Pawing isn't respect - it's taking advantage of a situation - taking advantage of the fact that your wife probably won't say anything because she doesn't want to spoil to mood.
- Give the date closure - just because you live together and are going to sleep in the same bed doesn't mean that the date doesn't deserve a proper ending. A nice hug and kiss, a few words to say, "that was fun, I enjoyed your company" is appropriate.
Your marriage is the most important relationship you'll have, and almost every religion sees it as a sacrament for God's love for us. Doesn't it make sense to do the maintenance, so the dream that we shared during those first hesitant steps together can become real?
What do you do in your marriage, to keep romance flourishing?