What is Romance? 5 Ways to Make Sure You Are Actually Romantic

In premarital counseling, I really enjoy asking questions. Jesus seemed to be great at it and, I feel, was an effective tool in helping people learn about the Kingdom. So I find myself asking a wide-range of questions, not so that I can give an answer, but to give a couple an opportunity to think deeply about some issues that they may or may not have even pondered.

One of my favorite questions to ask is, “What is romance?” (It’s a bit harder than you think.)

Most guys (conservatively saying, 90% of them) want their ladies to answer first, and then reply, “everything she said…that’s what I think too.”

Which is precisely why I don’t let the ladies answer first anymore. I’ve learned that I enjoy hearing the guys give me their take on “romance” as to what it is and/or what that looks like.  Most of the time I hear things like, “a movie, flowers, chocolate” and other staple answers. I’m not saying those are bad whatsoever, but they seem to be the “default” or the “go-to answers.”  (BTW: I was that guy 19 years ago.)

But more often than not, their female counterparts have a “look” on their face when those “default answers” are given. Then a conversation unfolds before me with statements like,

“That’s nice, but it’s not really romantic?”
“Wait, you don’t think that’s romantic?”
“That may be romantic to you.”
“I guess that’s okay…I have fun…but I find _________ romantic.”
“So you haven’t enjoyed what I’ve done? Are you’re saying I’m not romantic?”

A simple question, with what seemingly had a simple answer, turned into a conversation that revealed two elements that deteriorate romance: Assumption and miscommunication. And usually, BOTH parties are a bit guilty of indulging in both elements on this very important subject. My simple question helps create revelation and warning that romance, if not monitored, can fade away in marriage.

My simple definition:

Romance: Selflessly serving your spouse’s love language.

**NOTE: I wish I didn’t have to use the word “selflessly” as “serving” should indicate everything needed to approach your partner. But it seems, more and more, I find couples only “serve” their spouse in order to get something back.  If serving your spouse is based upon what you are going to receive, it’s not serving that you’re doing, it’s manipulation. So I added the “selflessly” to reinforce the Christ-like heart and approach we should have. Jesus didn’t give based upon our response. He selflessly gave (served us) because of His immense love for us (Romans 5:8).

So on the most romantic holiday (according to Hallmark), I thought I’d give you a few thoughts on growing and maintaining the romance in your marriage. 

Breach the subject.
Simply said, “TALK ABOUT IT.” Assumption gives access to idle thoughts. And idle thoughts have a way of seeding false senses of discontent, frustration, and anger. Often I hear things like, “well, he/she should know what I like.” While that may or may not be true, leaving your spouse in the dark purposely only invites the darkness into your marriage. The lack of knowledge your spouse may have on what romances you may have nothing to do with their intelligence but the lack of effective and healthy communication from the both of you.

Be the one to step up first.
Lead the way in selflessly serving your spouse. If you’re waiting for him/her to make the first move, your motivation isn’t serving, it’s getting. Now don’t get me wrong, the serving should go both ways. And in time, I’d hope that through communication (and potentially some help from a marriage resource), some good, healthy serving habits would develop in the both of you. But stubbornness about being the initiator may feel justified in the moment, but it leaves you both empty, hurting, and vulnerable. Simply said: If you both are selflessly serving, your love tanks will stay full.

Recognize that your ideas of romance may not be your spouse’s idea of romance.
I spent unbelievable amounts of money on flowers in the three years of dating Anne. Later, I found out, while she very much appreciated them, they were not as big of a deal as I thought they were. And simple conversation in the sweetest tone AND in the proper timing from her switched my romantic approach (not to mention saved me money). I find many couples in the same boat. And the remedy for that: A conversation with the proper timing, tone, and technique can help pave the way for healthy romance.

Don’t assume your spouse still has the same love language.
Romance has a tendency to evolve. And it’s the seasons of life that tends to be the thing that shifts a person’s love languages. Pre-kids, we both were very high on “physical touch.” After Cammi was born, “quality time” became the vocabulary of my wife’s heart. And what we’ve noticed is, through the past almost 19 years, the evolution of the love languages of David and Anne. Romance doesn’t have to fade, but it does changes through the seasons. While our top love languages haven’t budged, we’ve seen the others (words of affirmation, quality time, and gifts) morph into greater and lesser importance.

Find your joy in your spouse’s fulfillment.
It’s not going to feel romantic to your spouse if you look and/or sound miserable while communicating your spouse’s love language. For example, I think I’ve ruined a few “quality time” moments shopping with Anne because I was so bored. I was happy to be with her, but the loud “sighing” and “grumbling” ruined any enjoyment she was having. Learn to love, not by what you receive, but by what your spouse is receiving. When the end-game of your romance is your spouse’s fulfillment, you’ll discover a deep level of marital fulfillment and health only experienced when two people serve each other.

Although I do want you to have a great Valentines day, I would hope that this blog may set your feet on a greater path so your romance isn’t relegated to a holiday or when you want your needs met. I pray that you will be that spouse in your marriage that leads the way in selflessly serving your spouse’s love language.

Encourage effort.
Celebrate progress.
Feed hope.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

BTW: Check out my BRAND NEW book of my blogs!! Order one today!!!

 

Marriage Blog: Is it easy being married to me?

It’s a simple question to ask…But perhaps, it’s the most ignored question in marriage.

“Is it easy being married to me?”

Have you asked yourself that? I try to avoid the question. Why? Because of two reasons:

1. I’d rather shift the focus to my wife so, therefore, she has to be the one to change. That way, she can be the one to blame and I feel better about me.

2. If I answered the question TRUTHFULLY, then I have to be responsible for making changes necessary to be who my wife needs me to be. After all, if anyone needs to change, it’s not me.  My wife needs to change.

At the first sign of marriage issues, self-preservation and human tendency moves us to look for blame in someone else.  We desire to protect what we tend to cherish most: ourselves. This isn’t anything new to humanity. We see this in the beginning in the Eden incident (Genesis 3:12-13).   Instead of taking ownership of mistakes, we shift the focus upon something or somebody to preserve the way of life we want to embrace.

But that’s why the question is soooooo good. It confronts you with a reality that some of the issues that you are facing in your marriage (and/or the issues that will be forthcoming) can stem from a spouse (being you) that is unwilling to take a strong look in the mirror, recognize challenges, and strive for change.

“Why should I have to change?  Why can’t he/she change?  I’ve already sacrificed enough.”

Honestly, is it not easy to being married to you.  You may not think that’s the case.  You’re spouse might be too nice to really tell you.  But it’s time to take a step back and ask the all important question:

“Is it easy to be married to me?” 

I’ve had a running joke over the past 16 years of marriage.  I remind my wife how lucky she is to have married me.  With an odd grin, she always agrees (be it VERY sarcastically) with the statement.  She doesn’t say much more than that.  Why?  Because she knows the underlying reality: it’s not easy to be married to Dave Barringer.  I know she knows it.  Even better, she knows I know it.  But there are times I fail to remember.

I forget she’s married to a man who…

…deals with depression.
…brings his work home.
…is over-dramatic.
…loses all focus when football is on.
…lives with insomnia from a brain that won’t shut off.
…overreacts from stress.
…expects too much from his children because he forgets they’re only 12 and 15.
…wants more physical touch than she’s in the mood for.
…isn’t OCD and doesn’t care much about the cleanliness of the home.
…isn’t wired the way his wife is.
…has to share his focus between her, the family, and an entire congregation.

The list isn’t to create a “boo-hoo” moment for Dave.  It’s just a start of my list I use to remind myself that I am NOT always God’s gift to Anne.  I have more than a few moments that test the sanity of my wife.  There are times I forget what she has to deal with.  And when I do, I project the issue of the day as an “Anne” issue or suppose if there’s any change to be made, it’s definitely her that needs to grow.

I’d venture she’d have her own list to make (as most of you would).  But it boils down to you having the guts to ask the question.

“Is it easy to be married to me?” 

In Psalm 139:12, the Psalmist pens this words:

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

This is this heart we need to live toward God.  The answer will place your feet in a Kingdom lifestyle of humility and personal growth that will lead you “along the path of everlasting life.”  When speaking of our marriage, this is the attitude we need to replicate in our marriage.  And if you do, it will lead your marriage along the path of life that Christ can breath into you both.

And it can begin with asking yourself the simple question:

“Is it easy to be married to me?” 

The answer and your response (humility and teachability) can lead your marriage receiving a brand new breath of life.

 

…thanks for letting me ramble.