In this segment of our Romance series, I want to explore some classic ideas of how and why you would invest your time and energy into romance. If you missed the previous posts in this series you can find Part One here, and Part Two here.
Each day in a marriage brings new challenges, but incorporating romance can help alleviate those challenges and the stresses of everyday life, strengthening the relationship. One way to do that would be dating. For most people, the art of romance was first learned through the dating ritual and it was through dating that most of us found someone we liked and trusted, who became our best friend, and with whom we fell in love. Dating was, and is, at the heart of romance. Make time for just the two of you, find a sitter for the kids, even if it's just for a walk in the park. If it's been a while since you and your spouse have dated, with regular use, dating can be a wonderful boost for the married couple.
And remember that you don't have to leave the house or spend lots of money for a date. An "at home" date can be a fun and budget friendly option. Send the kids out with a sitter or put them to bed early, prepare a romantic meal, get out the tablecloth and your best dishes, and don't forget the candles. Few romantic images are more powerful than a candlelight dinner. This is a great way to have face-to-face intimacy through eye contact. Or, how about a picnic? With fresh air and fewer distractions, picnics are a fun, relaxing, and romantic way to share a meal.
Another great way of showing your love is through the writing of love letters. This means of expression is without equal and allows for time to get thoughts and the message just right, freeing those who are uncomfortable expressing their feelings. The topic of the letter can be varied from general in nature, or more specific such as a thank you for a particular effort. It can provide reinforcement of your love and encouragement for challenges that lie ahead. Remember that a love letter is a lasting demonstration of love and devotion - right there in black and white, so be sure to date your letter because they are frequently saved and become treasured heirlooms.
Gift giving is another way of exhibiting the classic beliefs of romance. Remember that in our first segment we learned that romance, in part, is the giving of time and the display of thoughtfulness. So, more powerful than the gift itself is the sentiment involved. The right gift, properly presented and well timed, is strong evidence that the recipient is listened to, valued, and thought of. The key is to give a gift that was obviously intended just for your spouse, not a common or impersonal gift, but one that is based on something you know about them. These gifts do not have to be store bought, you could also bestow a meaningful gift tailored to your spouse with a coupon book, for example, that allows your spouse to redeem the coupon for perhaps a back rub, a special dinner, or how about an uninterrupted nap. - And to maximize enjoyment, be sure to wrap your gift, writing a few words of sentiment along with it.
In thinking of ways to invest in romance, one should not overlook the power of a kiss. In the early stages of the relationship, kisses seemed almost intoxicating and during the limited time span of a date, they always seemed in short supply. In a marriage, time and proximity to each other are much greater, but the kiss isn't always accorded its due. The fact of the matter is though, the kiss can remain the stuff of wonder. A tender kiss is a beautiful expression of love. It should be considered a stand alone enterprise, without expectation of what might follow. Just enjoy the moment.
Sometimes our most romantic experiences are away from home. Little getaways and long planned vacations create special memories for years to come. Discuss together what you would most like to do with your time because this can help build excitement and be sure to schedule some time to relax and regroup. Remember to tell each other that you are grateful for your time together, no matter how short. Even with those times when you or your spouse must travel alone, you can find ways to keep romance foremost in your mind. You may be filled with sorrow when parted but there can be overwhelming joy when reunited.
Celebrations, whether large or small, bring merriment to our lives, and there's no need to wait for a red letter date marked on the calendar. Invest in your romance by celebrating the good times. Observe a number of romantic anniversaries such as your first date, the day you got engaged, or the day you moved into your house. Or how about celebrating monthaversaries? Along with these every day celebrations, don't forget to celebrate the holidays and special occasions. You can always give yourselves something to look forward to by celebrating a different religious, ethnic, or national holiday each month. Couples often celebrate in the traditions learned from their individual childhoods, and while these traditions are important, it's never too late to establish your own traditions.
Romantic gestures are often made up of small special touches and the process of discovering the ones that are just right for the two of you is half the fun.