I know this is a big secret but I thought I should divulge my bias…. I’m a big fan of romance. I have seen first hand the powerful positive impact life-long romance can have on a marriage. With all of this bias in mind, along with some insight from relationship science, I recently wrote the following article (I think it will appear in the N/S Dakota Baptist Newsletter):
The bliss of romantic, honeymoon love is often said to come crashing down shortly after the honeymoon. I have always wondered why. Certainly, some couples display the unhealthy “prince and princess” expectation of matrimony and experience serious disillusionment when the fantasy ends. So why do couples with healthy expectations also experience disappointment in romantic love after the wedding?
In recent books and articles about marital happiness, I have noticed a disturbing answer to this question that seems to go well beyond cautioning against the “prince and princess” mentality. Several authors appear to suggest lowering the expectation of marital happiness, especially in the area of romance. The message seems to be “expect less and you won’t be disappointed”. Simply stated, I believe this is the wrong direction. The romantic fires of marriage should be stoked, not allowed to burn down toward extinction. Romance is about expressing emotional, passionate-laden affection toward his or her spouse. Similar to the work of improving communication, accommodation, forgiveness, and several other relationship areas, romance must also be part of building a fulfilling life together.
Let me share some ideas that have helped others keep romance burning:
Love God more than self. Self-centeredness is a romance killer. Loving God is the beginning of humbleness and being a servant.
Make romance a priority. Shortly after the honeymoon couples begin juggling life. If couples are not intentionally romantic, romance will begin to get squeezed out of the relationship.
Learn to love one another. Treat a spouse’s love as a foreign language which only he or she can teach, ask questions then listen. Romantic love will flourish when one learns how to express love in a way that is meaningful to his or her spouse.
Accept idiosyncrasies and faults. Few characteristics of the marriage relationship are as powerful as being accepted “as is.” Condemning, nagging criticism creates wounds and makes romance impossible. Acceptance builds trust and allows romance to flourish.
Alone time together being a couple. Whether it’s a few hours or a weekend away from the kids, job and house responsibilities, being alone together is vital to romance.
Keep the physical side of marriage vibrant and fresh. Read good manuals on the subject and then practice.
Romantic love is a great insulator to the ups and downs of life. Putting forth the necessary effort can make marriage a honeymoon for life.