Do you ever wonder how we can feel so fatigued today, despite all our modern conveniences that are supposed to save us time and make life more comfortable? How can we be so busy, so stressed, so fractured? For many, the pace of life presents the biggest deterrent to marital romance.
When Dennis and I wrote a book about romance, we surveyed more than ten thousand couples. We found that the top issues hindering romance today are exhaustion, pressure, and busyness.
You can explain it any way you want, but remember romance is like a fire. If you neglect the importance of romance in favor of juggling the urgent demands of life, your love will grow cold. A fire must be attended or it will die.
But properly stoked and refueled, your romance can burn for a lifetime. An important question for you to ask yourself is: At the end of my life, where do I want to find warmth?
Valentine’s Day reminds us that romance flourishes when both husband and wife take responsibility to make it a priority. This means planning for it and building it into your schedule.
Planning sounds more boring than spontaneous, but in our crazy busy lives romance and good sex won’t happen without some planning. One of my favorite stories comes from author Dan Allender, who learned that even the best-laid plans to squeeze romance into a busy schedule are subject to rough sailing. I asked him if I could share his story, and he agreed.
Dan and his wife, Becky, found themselves driven by an endless stream of urgent needs during an ultra-busy, six-week period. Far too many things pulled at them, not the least of which were two graduations. Dan and Becky barely had moments during the day to speak to each other.
Dan decided he had to act before they ended up on opposite sides of the world. He suggested that they schedule a few hours alone to talk and to celebrate their marriage. After they compared their calendars, they found the only window of time was 5 p.m. on a Thursday.
When the day arrived, Dan was ready. He had carefully thought through their brief window of romance. That afternoon, he left work early and stopped at the store to pick up some fresh grapes and cheese. At home, he rummaged through the kitchen and spotted a silver platter. With care he arranged grapes and cheese on the tray, then filled two long-stemmed goblets with wine and added them to finish the presentation.
When he reached the bedroom, he pulled back the covers on the bed and placed the tray there to wait for her. His wife arrived, and in Dan’s words, “She looked gorgeous.” She slipped into bed. Dan double-checked the door to make sure it was locked. At this point, I’ll let Dan finish the story:
Standing by the closed door, I was so thrilled about the prospect of finally dining together, talking together, and making love that as I moved to the bed, all of a sudden I found myself airborne. I leaped into bed and just like in an accident where everything slows down to miniscule movements, I realized I was mid-air heading toward my wife . . . a naked, balding, middle-aged man propelling himself toward his wife who had a silver platter, goblets, and grapes beside her.
I hit the bed like a beached whale. The goblets spewed into the air. I couldn’t miss the panicked look on my wife’s face.
My wife was angry. I was upset. Here we were trying to have a few moments alone and I had ruined the mood of romance. We exchanged a few tense words, punctuated by tears. I apologized . . . and then I quit my efforts to romance her. After I finished cleaning up the mess, I figured we were done and started to leave.
My wife said, “Where are you going?”
I said, “I just figured we were done for the day.”
Let me tell you my wife’s romantic response. She looked at me and said, “Silly man, I have intentions for your body. You’re a bumbler, but you have a heart for me. Get back in bed!”
My favorite line is Becky’s when she said, “You have a heart for me.” She chose to overlook her husband’s poor choice of diving into bed and focused instead on his heart for her. She favored compassion over anger, love over disgust, and empathy over retaliation. As husband and wife, they needed time together. Becky rescued her husband by her loving response and invested in her marriage. This woman has her priorities straight.
The key is to keep romance alive by intentionally working at it. Nobody does it perfectly. So don’t stress over the mistakes your own “bumbling” husband makes. Give him some grace. Make romance with your husband a priority.
Your calendar can become the single most important tool to preserve your relationship and romance. You can plan times for romance, as Dan and Becky did. You can write “TS,” which means “think sex” on your calendar, as my friend Linda Dillow did. You can schedule regular, planned private oases of love with the man you married. Why wouldn’t you want to encourage him in that way?
The apostle James stated, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (1:5). The Lord knows your commitment to a planned weekly romantic encounter is vital. He will guide you as you keep busyness and misplaced priorities from sabotaging your marriage.
A marriage that has weathered the storms of life and remains passionately alive “until death do us part” is the dream of every couple who walks down a wedding aisle. Ecclesiastes 7:8 reminds us, “better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.”
And let me encourage you that romance can get better with age if you are wholeheartedly committed to saying “no” to the stream of distractions in your life and “yes” to romancing each other. One day when the kids are gone is the day your marriage can begin to grow again in ways it couldn’t when kids were ruling your lives. It won’t be easy, but you’ll have time to focus on growing together again if you choose to.
But don’t wait for then. You have to keep the coals burning now by keeping your commitment to one another and investing in one another.
Adapted from Rekindling the Romance, © by Dennis and Barbara Rainey, Thomas Nelson Publishers