Valentine’s Day is great—it nudges us to celebrate romance. But we don’t want to celebrate only on special occasions, not when we can weave romance into the rhythm of our lives.
How do we keep celebrating romance all year long?
Between kids and jobs, home responsibilities and extended family, it is easy to let our marriage relationships go on auto pilot. But if we want to have a good marriage, a romance-filled marriage, we choose to be intentional about it.
We love intentionally
1. Discovering the best in our partner — every day — and celebrating it. Set this standard in your marriage and hold on to even in the most stressful times. Nothing builds romance like knowing your husband well and expressing appreciation for those things that are easily taken for granted.
2. Speaking to each other with respect. It makes me so uncomfortable to overhear couples speaking sarcastically to each other. It is a bad habit we fall into without even being aware of it. It costs nothing to speak well to each other. And when we don’t — it’s a romance-buster.
3. Dating each other. Dating is what helps us fall in love in the first place. It is the thing that most married couples give up first after saying “I do.” But dating is a great way to take a little retreat from those things that can pull us away from each other. At first you may have to look at dating as a project – setting aside time, money and energy for something (or someone) that is important.
I know that it can be expensive to date, but if you are creative, you can have a great date without breaking the bank. You can find inexpensive date ideas here. The point is, to go out and have some fun, to recapture a little of that romance you had early on and saying, you know what? We enjoy being together. We like each other.
4. Doing thoughtful little things. Little things add up to ongoing romance. Write a love note, buy him his favorite sweet treat, send a flirty text – have fun with it! Just let your man know you think about him when you’re apart. Do some of the little things you did when you were falling in love. There is real impact in doing these simple things, they say to your husband, “You matter so much to me.”
They sparked romance before, and they can ignite it again.
In our marriage, we learned that more effort had to be put in after the vows than before them. Today, I see my husband die to self every day to make sure that I know I am loved and that I’m happy. And I try to do the same for him. I can’t think of a better way to be married than how we are right now. It took us a long time to get there – we had to get past some things – but I can’t imagine anything better.
When we choose to love intentionally – by design and not by default – our wedding day becomes the beginning of a great romance story, not the end of it.
This question comes up a lot when I’m speaking: What should I do when my husband is overwhelmed?
And I get it – we are all looking for ways to connect during the hardest times.
His struggle could be because of work – or finances. Or there’s stuff going on with his parents, or in your family. Whatever the reason, we all know when it’s happening.
Maybe he gets really quiet and withdrawn. He may be in a place where talking about it (or about anything,) is overwhelming. He’s exhausted, so either he sleeps all the time or he doesn’t sleep at all.
You know what it looks like for your man. But when you see it happening, don’t just wait for the wave to pass. There are things you can do to actively help your man during this difficult time.
Here are ten things you the right away when you realize your husband is overwhelmed:
1. Feed Him Food. It makes him feel like everything might be okay for just this one hour. I don’t want it to seem like I’m making our guys into cavemen, but there is something about knowing where his next meal is coming from that can really make a man feel more secure. Cook him one of his favorites.
2. Brag on Him. Let him hear you bragging on him – to your friend, to your kids, to his mom. Pick one thing he did this week (went to work on a hard day, played tickle monster with the kids,) and make sure he knows how much it meant to you.
3. Unburden Him. Are there things around the house your husband normally does, that you, (or an older child) can do for him right now? Even hiring a teenager to mow the lawn could be just what your husband needs to know that you’ve got his back.
4. Seduce Him Again. Not trying to go caveman here, but sex is — for most men — the best tension reliever. Setting aside some time will do more for your husband than just about anything else. However, if sex is an area of discouragement, offer a no-strings-attached massage, or head, hand or foot rub.
5. Date Him. Plan a date geared for him. Take him to his favorite dinner spot and to a movie that involves a ball, something blowing up, or robots.
6. Treat Him. A Jamba Juice can improve my husband’s outlook on the world. Surprise him with a little something to let him know that you were thinking of him.
7. Encourage Him. One of the reasons your husband may feel overwhelmed is that he is feeling undervalued. What can you say to make him know that he is valued and respected? Tell him. Need some ideas to get your encouraging words flowing? Download my 21 Post-it-Note Encouragements.
8. Tag Him. Give your man a Facebook or Instagram shout-out and let the world know why he is just that awesome.
9. Pray for Him. Set an alarm on your phone and stop and pray for your husband every single day. Need some inspiration? It’s important to let your husband know you’re praying for him. Roger walks with new confidence when he knows I’ve got his back, prayer-wise.
10. Surprise Him. I have an alert on Amazon any time my man’s favorite author releases a new book. Surprise him with something he loves.
Valentine’s Day wreaks havoc on a girl with unrealistic expectations. I know. I’ve been there.
My husband, Mike, set the bar very high during our whirlwind courtship, fairytale wedding, and over-the-top honeymoon. He pursued me like a glass of cold water in the middle of a desert. He spoiled me with gifts and sent huge bouquets to my work (too big to fit on my desk!) He was a man on a mission. I felt loved and valued.
So, when we got married, I expected him to continue to pursue me with the same fervor he showed while dating.
Before you laugh, I felt justified in that expectation since he promised to pursue me in his wedding vows.
We were both naive to think we could pour into our marriage the same level of energy we had before the wedding. I brought an adorable daughter into our marriage (my second), and we added two more children to the mix in the first three years. Mike went from single to married father of three almost overnight.
Add to that a job change and a move and you can see how his focus necessarily changed. Any reasonable person might have given her husband a bit of slack in the area of creating romance. I can’t always claim that title.
I held on to my expectations, creating a bar too high for Mike to clear.
And little by little, the romance faded.
I wanted (expected) him to initiate dates with me and go all-out for birthdays and holidays. One of my top “love languages” is gifts. My expectations made it hard for him to feel confident in buying gifts. He thought it wouldn’t be enough (and, in all honesty, he might’ve been right). I expected thoughtful gifts that reflected his love for me and that showed he really knows my heart. (No pressure, right?)
Mike’s love language is acts of service. He’ll do anything for me: chores, filling the gas tank, he’ll even go grocery shopping. If it can be checked off a list, he’s happy to do it.
That’s all wonderful, but what I really wanted was to know that he still loved me as much as he did when we dated, when he expressed his love in ways that flooded my heart with joy. All his acts of service just weren’t doing that for me.
My expectation kept me from enjoying him in the present
Every time Valentine’s Day rolled around (or any other special occasion), my expectations soared and were dashed.
I knew Mike had it in him to shower me with romance and create a memorable day, but he didn’t. My disappointment festered.
Then, after a lot of pain and struggle, I laid down my “right” to be pursued and dated, and began to accept the husband God gave me.
Now, anything he does – a gift, a date, holding my hand on a walk, or simply cuddling on the couch to watch the latest installment of Victoria — I express my gratitude to him. More than that, I feel gratitude toward him. It’s a great place to be.
And you know what happened? He started exceeding my expectations!
If you have unrealistic expectations this Valentine’s Day, here’s what you can do:
1. Let your husband off the hook. He’s already proven his love to you. Let him know he doesn’t have to vault over the high bar of your expectations anymore.
2. Shower him with gratitude. If your husband gives you a Valentine’s Day gift or card, let him know you appreciate it. If he doesn’t, pick something else to express gratitude for. Focus on what he brings to the marriage.
3. Accept your reality. Celebrate Valentine’s Day in a way that works for you, your unique marriage and your season in life.
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to look like a Hallmark movie – or even a Hallmark commercial – to be special. Celebrate the man God gave you, not the fantasy of who you think he should be. Celebrate your love free of unrealistic expectations and I promise you’ll have more fun!
Elizabeth M. Thompson is an inspirational writer and speaker who helps women lead Scripture-based, Spirit-graced lives. She lives in Gold River, CA, with her family and enjoys kayaking and walking along the American River with her two adventurous dogs. Connect with her at www.elizabethmthompson.com
Too often when I crawl into bed I realize that the day has brought little (if any) emotional connection with my husband.
I might be living and married to this man, but I often wish I had more quality time with him.
I realize I miss him. I miss us.
Busy lives and families
Families today are busier now than ever before. It’s common for both parents to work full-time jobs outside of the home, and many of us report feeling stressed, tired, and rushed (New York Times)*. Whether we’re working inside the house or outside of the house, the busyness of life leaves couples feeling more like friends than intimate partners.
Consider our leisure time. According to my own informal survey, though couples spend time ‘together,’ women often report time spent on electronic devices steals precious time and causes them to feel disconnected from their spouse.
Couples experience shoulder-to-shoulder time, but lack face-to-face time.
Reconnecting with your husband
So, what is one thing you can do when you miss your husband? Incorporate daily ‘couch time’ with your husband.
One Small Win: ‘Couch time’ is 15 minutes of uninterrupted conversation time.
And while ‘couch time’ doesn’t have to be on the couch, choose a place where you can preferably sit across from one another and away from distractions.
Determine the time and place it will take place.
- Right after dinner?
- Before leaving for work?
- Face Time over your lunch break?
- Set your alarm 15 minutes early to chat in bed before getting ready for the day?
- Sit down at the table as soon as you are both home?
And yes, this even goes for those of us with young children! Prime your kiddos for this special time by telling them, “Mom and Dad will be visiting for 15 minutes. When we are done, then we’ll be happy to help.
It doesn’t take long to connect with your husband. It does take intention.
Imagine catching up with your husband about your day. Sitting down and truly listening to each other. Filling your husband in on that funny story or frustrating situation. Talking about the next day and what you each have going on.
Don’t wait. Chat with your husband about couch time today. Plan it, and enjoy your special time together.
* Miller, Claire, C. “Stressed, Tired, Rushed: A Portrait Of The Modern Family.” The New York Times. November, 2015. www.nytimes.com. Web. 14 Dec. 2016.
Amanda Davison is on a mission to share how her education in counseling and God’s word changed her marriage. She is sure to share personal, laugh-out-loud moments, which are woven with challenging yet inviting perspective change.
As a Speaker and Wife Coach, she tackles topics such as: becoming a confident wife, handling the real frustrations as wives, knowing and owning our high call as wives, and obedience. She wants to hear from you and hopes you will join with her on the journey of learning to love God’s people well. Learn more about Amanda at www.amandadavison.com.
If there’s one thing I know about us girls, it’s that we like romance! We love romance novels, romance comedies, romance tragedies, and romance, romance, romance. Most gals would much rather take in a romantic movie than an action film. And what woman doesn’t dream about her husband romancing her the way he did when they were dating? But guess what, that man of yours longs for romance too.
One night Steve and I were planning a romantic evening at home alone. We borrowed a movie from our friends, Gene and Sheri. A Vow to Remember promised to be a real tearjerker. The couple on the DVD case appeared lost in each other as their arms intertwined in a lovers’ embrace. The back cover boasted, “Capture your mind, your heart and your soul … Paints a compelling picture of forever love.”
The lights were dim, the candles were lit, and the mood was set. However, when Steve placed the movie in the DVD player, we were not greeted with strains of a melodious theme song or misty-eyed romance. Oh no. It was Arnold Schwarzenegger with machine gun at the ready! Our romantic evening was rudely interrupted by Terminator. Gene had placed the wrong movie in the case!
Perhaps romance in your marriage has a greater resemblance to Terminator than A Vow to Remember. If so, there’s hope! You can be the one to make the first move!
Jesus said, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you,” (Matthew 7:12). We call that the Golden Rule. Isn’t it interesting that a wedding ring is often called a band of gold? Whether a wedding ring is gold, platinum, silver, or bronze, the Golden Rule certainly applies in a marriage relationship.
One Small Win: The Golden Rule for romance could be: Express your love to your husband in the same way you want him to express his love to you. Sticky notes of love on his bathroom mirror, romantic texts in the middle of the day, and declarations of how proud you are of him are actually showing him ways to love you in return.
Here are a few simple ways to romance that man of yours:
• Put a chocolate kiss in his briefcase, lunch bag, or on the dashboard of his car, with a note that says, “I love you!”
• Write “I love you” on his bathroom mirror with soap or lipstick.
• Send him a romantic card to his workplace via snail mail.
• Kiss him passionately before he leaves in the morning and tell him you’re going to miss him. Kiss him passionately when he comes home in the evening and tell him you’re glad he’s home.
• Draw a bath, light candles, and invite him to join you. Lather him up with soap and draw a big heart on his chest. Lie in each other’s arms and soak in the love.
Leave a comment and tell one thing that attracted you to your husband when you were dating. We’ll randomly pick one response and give away a FREE copy of Sharon’s new book, A 14-Day Romance Challenge: Reigniting Passion in Your Marriage. (US and Canada only).
Click here to watch a fun video!
Sharon Jaynes is a conference speaker, author of 21 books, and devotion writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries and Girlfriends in God. Her latest book, A 14-Day Romance Challenge: Reigniting Passion in Your Marriage, includes over 250 ways to romance your man. She’s been romancing her husband, Steve, for 37 years. They call NC home.