Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and so it’s a perfect time to talk about romance and how important and necessary it is to a lasting and satisfying marriage.
It is ironic that , while that most folks think that romance is a good thing, many married (and unmarried) couples admit that there isn’t a lot of it in their relationship and would like more.
Unfortunately, many erroneously believe that once romance disappears from a marriage, there is no way to get it back. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to rekindle romantic feelings and restore excitement to your marriage. Given the all of the bad information and discouragement surrounding romance, here are some basic facts to remember that explain: 1) Why romance is so important, 2) The key factors that go into keeping romance alive and vigorous and 3) Tips for re-igniting romance and passion that may have flagged :
WHAT IS ROMANCE ?
To begin, it is important to understand what romance is all about. Romance is defined in the dictionary as a “feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love”. While it is certainly that, psychologically it is much more. Romance also has to do with those words and actions which convey love to one’s beloved. In a marriage, communicating the feeling of romance is as important as feeling it. A major source of marital discouragement is that the importance of showing that sense of mystery and excitement one feels for one’s partner is often not appreciated or expressed .
WHY IS ROMANCE IMPORANT IN MARRIAGE ?
Romance is vital to a healthy intimate relationship for two reasons: 1) Human beings are both rational and emotional. Our brain has a left lobe which is rational and thinks and a right lobe which feels . While a person may understand cognitively that he or she is loved, they also need to “feel” it in order to really believe it and trust it. Romantic gestures speak to the right side of a person’s brain and allow then to feel loved. 2) Humans by nature are anxious and emotionally fragile. The limbic system which allowed us to survive by making us cautious to possible threats also is the source of inherent and constant anxiety. When it comes to marriage, for many this neurological tendency translates in to a sense of insecurity which needs ongoing reassurance. Romance provides the emotional reassurance that one is loved and reduces the sense of anxiety .
SOME TIPS TO PUT MORE ROMANCE INTO YOUR MARRIAGE
- Schedule Time for it . Make romance a priority. Since we all have busy lives with many responsibilities and obligations, with work and family, time for romance with one’s partner will not spontaneously occur. It must be planned in advance, put on a calendar and protected. Dates nights don’t have to be frequent but they do need to happen.
- Be Considerate . Sometimes people have the false idea that romantic behavior must always involve roses and candle light dinners. While there is nothing wrong with these gestures, conveying reassurance of one’s love for the other many times takes the shape being considerate and doing little things to show him or her that you are thinking of them. Vacuuming or doing the laundry or picking up something from the cleaners can be received as a very romantic gesture.
- Don’t Forget to Say it . Saying I Love You is important because these words mean more than simply the logical meaning. Some folks have trouble understanding this neurological reality. For example , one husband, who couldn’t understand why his wife wanted to hear him say I love you, said that he felt having said it was before was enough. He explained with an mortgage analogy, noting that when the mortgage was paid off, they celebrated but didn’t have to go around saying “The mortgage is paid off “. It was an established fact that was known and didn’t need to be repeated. The words I love you, however, do not simply convey a fact. Indeed, there is a reason a heart is the symbol of Valentine’s day. They not only affect the right side of our brains , they also touch our hearts. The impact of the saying “I love you”, does not merely convey the rational meaning of the words for someone. They are reassuring in deep and profound ways.
- Don’t forget the “little things“. Romance is not something that requires grand gestures or actions. Sometimes it is just a little thing like dropping a text or making a phone call for no particular reason to say that you were thinking of your partner . Flowers for no reason or cooking a favorite meal can be very romantic and not be a big deal. Again , given our insecure psyches , small tokens that say I miss you, I’m thinking of you or I love you give reassurance and calm primordial fears.
- When it comes to sex, don’t be afraid to try something different. In addition to all of these other factors, sex is a big part of romance too. Sometimes, we become too busy for sex or, when we do, we get into a rut of doing the same old things. Likewise, we don’t think about or ignore important elements that are necessary for having great sex , things like being well rested, relaxed and having the time and privacy. In addition to planning date nights, it is a good idea to plan times for physical intimacy, too.
One of the pernicious myths that kills romance is absurd belief that waning passion is inevitable. Many think that passion declines naturally just by getting older or from having the same partner for many years . Even worse, many people are convinced that when sexual interest or enthusiasm fades, there is no way to get it back. Nonsense ! Neuro-chemically speaking, while the initial rush of phenylethylamine (PEA) calms down over time, in loving relationships, the bonding effect of oxytocin continue to grow over a lifetime.
It is important to understand that dimming sexual interest is most often the result of romantic neglect and/or built up resentments. Paying attention to some of the tips we have listed can have a remarkable effect on a couple’s love life , no matter how long it has been in decline.
For many couples, trying out some of these suggestions will do the trick. If they don’t, there is no reason to despair. Seeing a professional who is experienced in dealing with intimacy problems can often work wonders. Romance and good sex may not be the most important thing in life but it is one of those things which is up near the top of the list and is not only pleasurable but an experience which can enhance and deepen a couple’s life together.
Rev . Michael Heath, LMHC, Fellow AAPC
Image attribution and acknowledgement: https://www.diggersservicesclub.com.au/whatson/valentines-day-romantic-dinner/