I (Josh) have been working here at Thriving Marriages for awhile, which means I’ve read a LOOOT of blog posts about marriage. When I looked at today’s post from Rachel Lee at Be Thee Inspired, I thought “oh, another one of these,” but then Rachel went DEEP on this topic, including some really practical “how to” suggestions that I thought our TM community had to have! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Like many women today, my introduction to romance first came by way of the movies.
I recall watching the movie, Say Anything, for the first time as a teenager. You know the one.
The one where John Cusack’s character professes his love for his high school girlfriend by standing outside her bedroom window, holding up an 80’s size boom box, blaring Peter Gabriel’s famous love song, In Your Eyes…and every teenage girl across the world swooned.
Years later there was, Jerry McGuire. The movie where Tom Cruise’ character- on the brink of a divorce- finally comes to his senses, and in a desperate attempt to win back the heart of his wife, shows up at her house unannounced to a living room full of man-hating women, and whispers the infamous line repeated by sentimental’s a thousand times since- “you complete me.” There was not a dry eye left in the room.
And who could ever forget Nicholas Sparks’ movie, The Notebook? The captivating love story of Noah and Allie’s whirlwind romance that left discontented women from all walks of life, longing for something more.
As women, we are naturally bent towards romance. I don’t necessarily think there is anything wrong with that. We are made in the image of God after all, and I personally believe my romantic flare, helps me to experience a greater depth of intimacy with the Lord, that is uncommon to most men.
But if we are not careful, we can allow our desire for romance- and possibly the lack thereof in our marriage– to lead us into dangerous territory.
Thus why it is so important that we make the effort to cultivate and maintain, romance in our marriage.
If the romance in your marriage is feeling a little lackluster lately, try implementing the following ideas.
I call them my Top 5 for Keeping Romance Alive!
My Top 5 for Keeping Romance Alive
How often do you pray for your marriage? As christians, we might assume that this is just a given. But let’s be honest with ourselves, and each other– when was the last time you prayed for your marriage? Really prayed?
I admit that I don’t do this as often as I should. But when I do, I notice a major- and almost instantaneous– difference!
There is power in prayer!
James 5:16 exhorts,
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
Don’t forego the practice of prayer in your marriage. It is the best possible thing you can do for one another.
Not sure what to pray for? Here are a few prompts that will help to get you started.
- Pray that there will be mutual respect in your marriage.
- Pray for grace to be lavishly extended, and forgiveness freely given.
- Pray that your love for one another would continue to grow and not become stagnant.
- Pray for God to protect the marriage bed, by guarding your heart’s and mind’s against temptation.
- Pray for endurance to last until the end- in sickness and in health– through every trial that may come your way.
Try making date night a regular part of your marriage. Life can be so full and so busy, that it’s easy to start overlooking the importance of this practice.
Every couple needs time to reconnect, otherwise it’s easy to merely become two ships that pass in the night. And nobody wants that.
Chances are when you first started dating your, (now spouse), you couldn’t wait to spend time together! You probably looked forward to seeing one another with great anticipation, and if it wasn’t possible to meet in person, you most likely spent time talking on the phone.
Why does the excitement have to wane once you’re married? It doesn’t. It shouldn’t.
Make an effort to set aside time for just the two of you. You won’t regret it!
Give these ideas a go!
- Learn something new together- take a cooking class, a pottery class, or a shooting class.
- Be childlike- go to the arcade, or the carnival. Go bowling, or play putt putt golf.
- Feeling adventurous? Why not go river rafting, or zip-lining, or play paintball.
- Invite a few friends to join you at a restaurant with live music, dance, or sing karaoke.
- If you can’t get a sitter, or if you’re on a tight budget, then stay in- have a candlelight dinner, put on some soft music and slow dance in the living room. Or better yet, have a camp out! Pitch a tent, roast some marshmellows, and stargaze in your backyard.
Get creative! Who ever said dating our spouse has to become monotonous and boring?
At the start of wedded bliss, intimacy usually comes easily. Over time, however, intimacy in marriage can diminish dramatically. Especially if you’ve had children.
But intimacy is vital to keeping the romance in marriage alive. If this crucial aspect of your marriage is absent or unsatisfying, then you may find yourself being tempted to look for it elsewhere. This is dangerous ground, friend.
That is why Paul warns against this.
“Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer, but then come together again, so that satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self control.” (1 Corinthians 7:5)
Intimacy provides a closeness that every marriage needs in order to protect against temptation, and to help it to thrive.
What’s more is that there are physical and psychological benefits of intimacy, to boot!
It is proven that intimacy reduces stress, encourages brain cell growth, improves immunity, creates deeper connection, boosts sense of well-being, burns calories, lowers blood pressure, and a multitude of other benefits.
Studies show that intimacy actually makes you look younger and it lengthens your overall lifespan.
The benefits of intimacy in marriage are not merely reduced to the act of intercourse itself, though it certainly is included, but any kind of healthy touch is beneficial.
A simple hug, a back rub, holding hands, kissing, snuggling. All of these are healthy ways to cultivate intimacy and increase the romance in marriage.
It may require intention and dedication, but taking the necessary steps toward reviving the romance in the marriage bed is worth every effort to enhance your love life.
Here are a few ideas to get you started-
Non-physical ways to enhance romance-
- Cultivate a safe environment within the relationship to engage in meaningful conversation together, and listen with intent. Communication is key.
- Dream together- dream of your first home, the prospect of children, vacation plans, life aspirations, retirement.
- Study scripture together and pray with one another regularly.
- Watch a romantic movie together. (One of my faves is, Dan in Real Life.)
- Take care of yourself. Show your spouse that you care about him, by caring for yourself.
Physical ways to enhance romance-
- Make a date on the calendar for love-making. Before you laugh- know that this can actually prove to be a lot of fun! As the anticipation of the night builds, so does the arousal. Treat it as your own little secret, flirt in the days leading up to “the night of,” and it will easily become something you regularly look forward to.
- Spend some time snuggling together in bed before you fall asleep.
- Exchange back massages- use some fun lotions or essential oils.
- Public displays of affection- why keep it to yourself? Let others know how much you adore each other. (This is a GREAT example to your kids).
- Hold hands often. Never underestimate the power of this one simple act.
Laughter too, is good medicine, and it’s one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind.
“A cheerful heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” (Proverbs 17:22)
Did you know that laughter greatly decreases stress hormones while simultaneously increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies?
This process improves your resistance to disease. It also helps to trigger the release of endorphins- the body’s natural feel-good chemicals- which promote an overall sense of well-being, AND can temporarily relieve pain.
Plus, there is nothing that can diffuse the tension in a marriage quite like laughter can. Who is able to stay mad at a spouse who frequently makes them laugh? Not this girl.
Humor is a coping agent. It is important that we are able to laugh with one another. (And at ourselves).
Studies reveal that people who let out a hearty laugh on a regular basis are less likely to experience burnout and depression, and they are more likely to enjoy life in general. This includes within their marriage.
The next time you find yourself in a romantic rut, try spicing things up with a little laughter.
- Rent a comedy movie to watch together at home.
- Fork out the cash and actually go to a comedy show. (Tim Hawkins is always a crowd-pleaser!)
- Play games together- Pictionary, Guesstures, and Taboo are a few fun interactive games that are sure to get you laughing.
- Spend some time out together with friends. The more the merrier.
- Get silly. Our family is known to break out into a spontaneous dance party from time to time. Always a hoot!
If you are unaware of what your spouse’s love language is, I highly recommend you take a moment and ask him/her. Don’t assume that you already know what it is. They may surprise you.
Once you know what their love language is, don’t just stop there. What good is it to simply knowhis/her language if you fail to speak it? No good at all.
That’s like having a friend who can only speak a specific language, but you neglect to speak it, even though you know it. Foolishness. How will they ever understand what you are trying to convey?
Knowing how to speak your spouse’s love language will help you to effectively communicate your love to them, and it will naturally improve their sense of feeling loved.
Bear in mind that it is possible to have an appreciation for all of the 5 love languages, but there are typically 1-2 languages that we resonate with more than the others. Those are the ones you’ll want to pay attention to.
Understanding then, that there are tremendous benefits to meeting the emotional needs of your spouse, let’s take a look at what the different languages are, and how we can implement them.
Words of Affirmation.
- Encourage and uplift him- boost his confidence- with your words. Maybe even send a fun text message!
- Tell him how much you appreciate him.
- Let him know that you still find him physically attractive.
- Write “I Love You” on the bathroom mirror in lipstick.
- Hide a loving note in his lunch bag.
Acts of Service.
- Have dinner prepared when he comes home from work.
- Take his car in to be detailed, inside and out.
- Run his errands for him.
- Mow the grass before he gets around to it.
- Allow him to sleep in on the weekends.
- Give him some “guy time” with his friends.
- Purchase tickets to his favorite concert.
- Show up unexpectedly at work and treat him out to lunch.
- Think of something he’s been wanting, and surprise him with it.
- Prepare his favorite meal and dessert.
- Take a long drive together, just you and him.
- Go for a hike or have a picnic.
- Get a sitter and go out on the town.
- Send the kids to bed early, and spend some time snuggling on the couch.
- Plan a weekend away together, just the two of you.
- Give him a shoulder massage.
- Hold his hand while out shopping.
- Unexpectedly pinch his rear end. (My hubby loves this)
- Embrace him in a lengthy kiss when he walks in the front door.
- Make love.
Cultivating and maintaining romance in marriage is a choice. It takes real effort, time, and dedication, but it IS do-able!
The amazing thing about initiating the romance in your marriage, is that it usually isn’t long before the romantic gestures are reciprocated. Before long you’ll notice the spark in your marriage being rekindled!
The challenge is learning to maintain it.
I’m rooting for you!