Five ways to keep romance alive in your marriage
Chad and I have been married for 20 years. In that time we have had some beautifully romantic moments that stand out in my mind. But, the truth is that in the long haul, marriage isn’t a continual series of memorable romantic gestures. Real romance isn’t just flowers or jewelry or poems or exotic vacations, even though those things can be nice. To be honest, I have seen some of the greatest examples of real romance at the many funerals that Chad and I have been a part of through our years of ministry. Watching a grieving husband or wife remember the life they shared with their spouse, all of the memories, all of the sacrifices made, all of the struggles they faced together–it will forever ban from your mind the notion that romance is all about date nights. Real romance is a lifetime of dedication and devotion, years of putting the needs of another person ahead of your own, decades of serving one another in humility and love.
So, it’s from that perspective that I present five ways that I believe you can help to keep true romance alive in your marriage.
1. Make Christ supreme. So many marriage issues could be solved if we simply knew Jesus more. If we sought Him more and made Him the ultimate priority of our lives. As Dave Harvey says in his excellent book When Sinners Say I Do, “What we believe about God determines the quality of our marriage.” If we want our marriage to become all that we hoped it would be–a lifetime of commitment and self-sacrifice and true, soul-deep love for one another, it has to begin with our own relationship with Christ. There is nothing more romantic than seeking and serving Jesus together because that is real and it’s messy and it ends with two people who see each other’s faults and flaws but choose to love strong anyway. That kind of love is born of Christ and it is Christ-like, and it is the stuff that true romance is made of. It will only happen if we know Him and we are actively working to know Him more
2. Keep a long-term perspective. Don’t fall into the trap of obsessing over things that ultimately don’t matter. That $50 on the credit card, those dirty clothes on the floor, that irritated response, that thoughtless comment–consider whether any of that will matter at all when you are old and gray and looking back on a long life together. Consider whether that bowl left out on the counter will still be annoying you when you are standing next to his casket one day, after a lifetime of commitment and laughter and tears come flooding over you as you look at his face one last time. We spend so much time thinking about things that have no real significance that we often let them overshadow all of the blessings of our marriage. We let small annoyances turn into huge roadblocks in our relationship. If we dismiss the small stuff instead, we will create an atmosphere of love and acceptance and grace that will allow real romance to flourish.
3. Talk to each other. I don’t think it’s possible to over-emphasize the importance of communication if you want to keep romance alive in your marriage. You can’t know someone if they don’t share their thoughts, memories, dreams, ideas, fears, joys and sorrows with you. Your spouse should be your closest friend. Couples who don’t talk don’t feel bonded. They don’t feel like a team. They are likely to be living two isolated lives, and there is nothing more sad than married people who have all the potential in the world to feel loved and happy, but who just feel sad and lonely. If you and your spouse are struggling through life keeping all of your burdens and worries and dreams of the future to yourselves, then romance is surely dead in your marriage. Only when we communicate with each other on an intimate level can true romance thrive. A bouquet of flowers means absolutely nothing if the lines of communication are down. The good news is that it’s easy to fix this problem: start talking. Start asking questions.
4. After Christ, give each other top priority. Your relationship with your spouse is one of the easiest to neglect. You are more likely to let your spouse down before you will let others in your life down because, well, they’re your spouse and they will understand. But, even if your spouse doesn’t blow up or seem upset with you, a continual pattern of giving him or her low priority in your life will make it impossible to keep the romance alive. It’s easy to let the children or a job replace your spouse on your list of importance. But, you must remember–one day you will retire. One day the children will grow up and leave. You have to constantly nurture your marriage by letting your spouse know that they are your number one concern, after your relationship with Christ. There is nothing less romantic than being made to feel unimportant and forgotten.
5. Have fun together. Don’t forget how to laugh. Don’t get so serious and wrapped up in the struggles and the problems that you don’t remember how to have fun together anymore. Keep the inside jokes going. Be okay with laughing at yourself. Life is hilarious. Don’t get hung up on the idea of date nights as the only way to have fun together. Yes, they’re fun, but so is hanging out in your living room after the kids are in bed. In one evening you can communicate, give each other priority, and have a great time just sitting in front of the TV, eating ice cream and talking about whatever comes to mind. Don’t ever underestimate the power of time spent together, whether you’re having a fancy dinner or eating corndogs while you sit on the kitchen counter. Having fun with your spouse isn’t complicated: laugh and be pleasant and remember why you fell in love in the first place.
Remember that romance isn’t about grand gestures. It’s about all of the small ways to love each other, day in and day out. Twenty years comes and goes in the blink of an eye—make sure you’re investing in your marriage so you can truly enjoy it.