Most romantic novels and movies contain a common theme. A handsome, intelligent, adventurous, single man unexpectedly meets a beautiful, equally intelligent single woman under improbable circumstances—often in an exotic foreign location or in a lavish historical setting.
Their personalities may clash at first, and they may even be on opposing “teams,” but eventually they fall madly in love. While this love is often impulsive and always new—never mature—in most cases, the story ends with the unspoken assumption that they will live happily ever after.
How many romance novels or chick flicks feature a faithful husband and wife with two to eight children, packing lunches, cleaning up messes, mowing the yard, going to work, serving at church, oh yes and enjoying passionate romance on a regular basis?
I haven’t seen that one yet either.
Obviously not many real couples live like the made-up characters in the movies and books. Who can maintain that level of intensity? Or adventure, intrigue, and surprise?
Everyone must come down from the high of new love and make the transition to everyday romance. But there really is something to that first love too. So it’s important to work at renewing some elements of those beginning lovestruck days.
Even Jesus talked about this when He told the Christians at one church that their love for Him had grown cold. His solution to rekindling their love? “Do the works (or deeds) you did at first” (Revelation 2:5).
Imagination and creativity
Couples in the beginning season of romance are often so focused on pleasing each other that they devise ingenious means of capturing each other’s attention. They create endless ways to say, “I love you.” Their courtship is marked with creative notes and gifts, interesting dates, surprise parties, and much more.
But at some point complacency sets in to a relationship, and creativity often goes out the window—or is refocused toward the children.
The ability to imagine and create sets humans apart from the animal world. It’s a connection to God Himself. He gives you the ability to use your mind to think of something that is different or distinct and then express that idea in some kind of action.
In an article titled “God Is Not Boring,” John Piper suggests that using our God-given imagination is a Christian duty. He writes, “Jesus said, ‘Whatever you wish that others would do to you do also to them’ (Matthew 7:12). We must imagine ourselves in their place and imagine what we would like done to us. Compassionate, sympathetic, helpful love hangs much on the imagination of the lover.”
The application for rekindling romance in marriage is twofold:
- Express your love to your husband in the ways you want him to express it to you.
- Use your imagination and creativity like you did in your dating and early married season.
The challenge is husbands and wives usually spell romance differently. Men usually spell it S-E-X while women spell it R-E-L-A-T-I-O-N-S-H-I-P. There are lots of ideas for how to romance your husband in his language, but the key is nurturing the relationship side that is important for you. And that means getting time with him.
As the weather begins to warm, invite him to go on short walks in the evening with you with or without kids. If he has evening tasks outside in his garage, work room, or the barn, join him to get time with him where he is most comfortable. Men are often more willing to talk if they are doing something they find interesting or relaxing. They don’t often respond well to, “Let’s sit on the couch and talk!”
As you find ways to get more time together, add small creative acts like leaving him a voicemail, sending a text or email telling him how much you appreciate him all he does. Take him coffee, ask how you can help him, be kind and interested in him as much as you once were.
To speak romance the way he spells it, you might try whispering in his ear, telling him you enjoyed your most recent lovemaking. He will love hearing that, and he’ll feel proud to be your man. Or thank him verbally for his manly qualities that you love—his strength, his work, his leadership, his faithfulness, his way of serving you and your children. Naming the good in people, your husband and your children too, always calls out more of those qualities.
Ultimately, if you know your man and know he would like this, the best way to romance him is imagining new ways to give yourself to your husband sexually. Depending on your level of comfort and your husband’s level of interest in bedroom creativity, plan a special love feast for his birthday or your anniversary.
Find different places to enjoy love in your home or plan a night away at a hotel. Dream up different things to wear … or take off. The only guidelines for your creativity are that it be 1-pleasing to your husband, 2-not offensive to either of you, and 3-within the boundaries of Scripture.
Baking a cake
One last thought. In some ways, renewing romance is like baking a cake. Every cake has some ingredients in common; such as flour, sugar, eggs. But there are also many variables that affect the baking. Oven temperature, altitude, humidity, and the inevitable mistakes of inaccurate measuring, incorrect ingredients, or inadequate equipment affect the final product.
Similarly, every marriage contains a host of romantic variables. Husbands and wives bring different thinking patterns and past experiences. Every spouse has experienced disappointment, failure, and rejection in life, unrelated to romance and sex, that influences the ability to take further risks. Many marriages deal with repeated health issues for one or both spouses. All couples have different personalities, values, desires, and goals.
Romance is a lot more complicated than baking a cake. But God created it for our good, so it’s worth the work to grow and learn together.
Renewing romance in your marriage means taking the time, exercising your imagination and being willing to “love your neighbor as yourself”—and your nearest neighbor in this case just happens to be your husband.
**Image from our friend Tamela Heath**