Many married people don't have the "spiritual gift" of romance. I remember a young wife telling her sports-crazed husband during a counseling session, "You can remember to turn on the TV every day, but you can't remember to turn on me."
Passion and intimacy in a relationship are like oxygen and water to the body. If the body doesn't get the right amount of oxygen, it shows signs of stress: deep breathing, nausea, headaches and such. If it doesn't get enough water, it dehydrates and slowly dies.
The same is true of a marriage. If it doesn't get a regular dose of passion and intimacy, it will show signs of stress: lack of closeness, frustration, resentment, regular arguments and withdrawal. In many ways, the relationship feels as if it were dying.
Valentine's Day is a wonderful time to rekindle passion. But what about the other 364 days of the year? Here are a few things I have learned, both personally and professionally, that help spark romance all year round:
Play offense. Don't wait until your spouse loses his or her cool because you're not thoughtful or romantic enough. Think ahead. What type of things does your mate spend the most time looking at in stores or online? Take note and show you care.
Listen. Does your spouse ever say, "I wish I could ... " or "It sure would be nice if ... "? Listening for these casual statements can give clues about the things that push his or her "romance button."
Think outside the box of chocolates. It's easy to do the same things — to give flowers or a card, yet once again — but doing something unexpected, such as treating your spouse to a formal dinner or cleaning his or her car, can express love like few store-bought gifts can.
Consider an occasional note. At least once a month let your spouse know about the things you appreciate, respect and have noticed. Be specific and keep it positive. This reinforces how special your spouse is to you.
Walk and drive. Walking together not only makes you both feel better physically and emotionally, but it can also present tremendous opportunities to communicate and reconnect. Early in our marriage, Rhonda and I started walking together, and it became an important part of forging friendship and intimacy. We discussed and solved many life, marriage and parenting problems in our walking shoes, and sometimes still do. We also used to take regular drives in the country. The times I opened up to her the most were when my eyes were on the road and hers were on the scenery.
Consider these ideas and think up a few of your own. They will help keep the spark of romance alive, especially when "life" begins to happen in your marriage.
Copyright © by 2010 Mitch Temple. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.
Mitch Temple (MitchTempleOnline.com) is a licensed marriage therapist.
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