Defining Romance so Your Husband Can Understand
Some men seem to have a handle on “romance.” They bring flowers often, they don't have to be reminded of anniversaries or date nights. The rest of us envy their wives. But “romance” is different for every couple, because every couple's relationship is different. So what should “romance” mean for your husband?
Though I've been married for 15 years, romance is still a tricky thing. And what I want changes with each phase of our relationship. When we were first married, I thought I wanted the thoughtful gifts, sweet chocolates, and stuffed animals.
When the kids came, I just wanted time alone. ;) Taking the kids for a few hours was the best way to romance me.
As the kids got older, I wanted more special time together. Date nights became the best way for my husband to romance me.
Right now, the time together doesn't need to be a special night on the town or an event. When he smiles at me like I'm his best friend; when he looks at me like I'm still the most gorgeous woman he's ever seen (I think his eyes need checked); and when he falls asleep on my lap while watching a chick-flick with me; those are the times that mean the most, that melt my heart into sappy mush. <3
Thanks to some savvy advice from author and coach Deanne Welsh, I've decided to niche down to helping Christian women Create Romance in their marriages, as well as to help Christian writers Create Romance in their writing projects.
But to Create Romance, you have to know what it is. And everyone has a different opinion of what constitutes “romance.”
1. The first step is to determine what is your purpose for romance. Do you need to feel pursued? Do you want to feel like the only special one in your husband's life? Do you want to have roses and chocolates like other women? Do you want your husband to initiate the ideas without any help from you? Why?
2. Once you have looked at the reason behind your need for romance, then you can determine what kind you can ask for. Does romance look to you like physical affection, expensive or thoughtful gifts, quality time spent together, a card or love letter expressing his feelings in words, or a helping hand in chores?*
Here is my working definition of “romance.” Here is what it is, what it isn't, and what it could be for you.
1. What Romance Isn't
A fleeting feeling. Men and women have different ideas of what romance is. Women tend to believe it's a vague feeling of “aw” that they feel when their man does something unexpectedly sweet. While the word is used this way, it's not what I want to focus on. This belief relies too much on your spouse's actions; it doesn't take responsibility to create it.
Only sexual attraction. Men tend to believe romance is arousal, or “foreplay” that might hopefully lead to sex. Some women with high sex drives also fall into this category. In God's perfect plan, there should be a measure of both women's idea and men's idea of romance: that is, if a man romances his wife, doing something unexpectedly sweet, then she will more be more likely to accept his advances. :)
The trick is for neither partner
to use the others' need as manipulation to get theirs met
to expect a quid pro quo: “If I give you that, then I expect you to give me this.”
But that's not all it is.
2. What Romance Is
An expression of eros love, distinct from agape or phileo. Without going into a Greek dissertation, I will just mention that in case you weren't aware, the Greeks in Jesus' time used three different words for the one English word we use for love.
We use it in so many ways. I love ice cream. I love my sister. I love photography. I love my kids. I love my country. I love my husband. I love my God. You can see that all those “loves” are completely different: they should be different. The Greek language did a better job of showing the differences in levels of connection.
Agape is the word used for the highest form of love, always for the love that God has for us. It is self-sacrificing love, wanting the best for the other person no matter the cost to yourself.
Phileo is the word used for brotherly love, for members of the church, for family members, and for friendship. It is more of a fondness, a closeness not found with casual acquaintances or strangers.
Eros is the most physical of the three words, used mainly for the sexual attraction between the sexes, even the act of sex sometimes. This is the word I will use for romance.
You can—and should—love your husband with all three kinds. He can—and should—love you in all three ways.
If your marriage is mainly about sexual pleasure, then you need to work on phileo, on becoming brother and sister in Christ and best friends.
If your marriage is mainly about living together as roommates, you may need to ramp up the eros a bit.
Agape should always be the way we resolve conflict and show little kindnesses throughout our everyday lives. Agape can be used in all areas of marriage, from matters of “what restaurant do you want to eat at” to “how can I fulfill your physical needs”?
While Google's definition is:
ro·mance, noun. 1. a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love. (e.g., "in search of romance"). 2. a quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life. (e.g., "the beauty and romance of the night"),
mine is slightly different.
My working definition of ROMANCE is:
The feeling of connection that comes from fondness for a member of the opposite sex; a feeling of physical attraction and an emotional bond that ties you to that person.
3. What Romance Could be for You
A way to relate to your husband, to get closer to the love of your life. If we let go of our expectations from our partners and focus on trying to meet their needs, then most often we will get our needs met anyway.
This is of course a generality, and it doesn't happen every single time. Also, this is dependent on a partner who also is following God and trying to be the best they can be. But you can't control them. You can't grow closer in a relationship if you're manipulating them. All you can truly control is yourself.
So what steps can you take today to kindle more romance in your marriage?
- Take responsibility for your own actions or refusals to act.
- Determine to put your spouse above your own needs for a specific period of time (I recommend at least a month at first), and pay attention to the results.**
Turn to God to satisfy any unmet needs in that time. You'll find that if you seek with your whole heart, You will find Him, and He will be enough (Jeremiah 29:13).
Stay tuned for some more actions to take to spice up the romance in your marriage.
For those of you are single, don't despair. I also plan to help you kindle your spiritual romance in your relationship with the Lord. More on that later. :)
Conclusion: What romance looks like to you and your spouse will depend; romance is personalized. However, there are a few things you can do right now to increase the romantic atmosphere in your marriage. Talk it over with your spouse, ask them when they feel most loved by you. Then do that thing as often as you possibly can.
Join the Conversation: Do you know what Love looks like to you? If you've taken the Five Love Languages quiz, what is your love language? If you haven't, you can take it here. Know that we're all a mixture of more than one. To find you primary love language, though, think about this: the language we feel most loved in is also the one we will most likely use to show others we love them. How do you show your love to others? When do you feel most loved?
when others give you gifts,
spend quality time with you,
help you out with chores (acts of service),
give you words of affirmation, or
when you receive physical touches from your loved ones?
My primary love language is Quality Time. What's yours? Please comment below!
For those of you who write or are interested in writing Christian Romance, sign up here for information on my brand new Little Red Writing Hood, a community and possibly a course on writing Christian fiction, especially Christian Romance. :)