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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Romance in Marriage

With apologies for stating the obvious – keeping the romance alive in a marriage is not like when dating! When you think about the courtship days you may remember holding hands, quiet candlelight dinners, walks in the moonlight, sharing private laughs, and feelings of being safe, valued, appreciated and truly loved. Those initial passions and sparks dim over time if not kept alive with deliberate focus and intention. It is an important marital challenge to find the ways to be together long term without losing the romance.

Too often spouses come to feel like “business partners” committed to raising children and keeping the household smoothly functioning. The “romantic love” of courtship and early marriage may be replaced with a life that is dominated by the demands of parenting, careers, and financial concerns. Unfortunately, many couples get into a groove where they just become comfortable in a routine of daily life. This can lead to not holding hands anymore, not kissing, or even talking about the day. A significant priority shift from the couple identity to other concerns is problematic as ongoing romance strengthens and enlivens the marriage relationship.

By focusing on your spouse and looking for opportunities to encourage romance, couples keep a closer more satisfying bond. Romance can be facilitated in many ways. By pampering and spoiling your spouse, writing love letters or sending cards, spending time together, or arranging little surprises; the importance of the marital relationship is reinforced. Romance is alive when the marital relationship needs such as respect, appreciation, companionship, support, and affection are met.

Romance springs from friendship and intimacy. Cultivate a friendship with your spouse. Making time to be alone with each other should be a priority. Compliment and flirt with your husband or wife. Take a genuine interest in your spouse’s activities or hobbies. Even when life is hectic and crazy – carve out time for each other!

Don’t expect your spouse to read your mind and make you happy. Each person is individually responsible to communicate needs and desires. Good and effective communication includes being a good listener, paying attention to the words, tone and nonverbal communication to get a complete understanding. If the marital relationship is neglected or ignored, it may be difficult to have an open conversation with your spouse about your relationship. If honest efforts don’t improve things, your marriage may benefit from professional help.

While the marriage relationship should not be superficial or based on physical appearance, it is important to put effort into looking good. Maintaining attraction is important. Consider minimizing wearing the comfortable over-sized grunge-wear. It rarely is an attractive look. Be sexy. Not only can taking care of yourself and your body help your relationship, but it also helps you feel good about yourself.

A very obvious sign of a couple who has lost romance is when physical and affectionate touch has disappeared. Even if the sex drive has changed, couples can maintain touch with hugging, kissing, cuddling, back rubs or foot massages. These non-sexual gestures are independently valuable and may foster a passion spark leading to sexual activity. However, romance and sex are not the same thing and if you expect to be rewarded for physical affection with sex, your spouse will see this motive and the romantic value of the affection can be diminished. It is normal for sexual feelings to ebb and flow during a marriage, but with effort and commitment affection and romance can be kept alive throughout the relationship.

It is important to make every effort to keep the romance and fun in your marriage. Plan regular dates and create opportunities for enjoying each other. Keep focus on what is most important in your marriage; the two of you.

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