Keeping romance alive in a relationship is easy. Get a babysitter for the weekend, book a stay in a nice hotel, have breakfast in bed, sleep late, play golf or go to the spa, have lots of un-hurried sex then return home rested and rejuvenated.
Okay–now back to reality.
In the real world you have jobs, sick kids, school projects, housework, cars that need servicing; and if you are like me, once the bills are paid and the kids are fed there’s not much money left for the “fun stuff”–much less a romantic weekend out of the house.
Don’t give up yet.
There are simple, cost-effective (yes, that means cheap or free) ways to keep the romance alive in your relationship. Let’s talk about romance first, then we can talk about how to work romance into your schedule.
Ahhh . . . Romantic Love
Romance is what you do to keep love alive with your spouse after you are married.
That lovey-dovey, you-brought-me-flowers, gushy kind of feeling is what most of us think when you mention romance. I know you’ve read the articles on leaving love notes, writing a message in the steamy mirror after a shower, planning special dinners and the like. What works for a woman, won’t necessarily work for a man.
The above acts of love will be romantic to a woman. Not so for a man. Romance to a man is the anticipation of sex.
Of course, it’s basic. Not really what you want to hear as a woman, but oh so true. All of the niceties of gestures, kisses, special dinners, a clean house or the kids sleep early will be appreciated by a man; but the romance starts when he realizes all of these things will eventually lead to the horizontal mambo. Get out your dancing shoes!
My husband, John, did an unofficial poll of the other military guys in his office and here’s what was discovered. [See chart below.] Men don’t really think about being romantic (except for Valentine’s Day, your birthday or if they are in the dog house). Simply put: when a woman does something romantic for him, he doesn’t “feel” emotional about it. It is simply a nice thing you did. Thank you, very much. If you want a man to “feel” emotional, there better be some sex in there somewhere.
Most men (John)
Most women (Evelyn)
The further you move to right —> the more a person is affected by “romantic concerns” and therefore gives more thought to such.
Don’t give up hope, ladies. If you really want to make some headway with romance in your relationship, find out what your spouse really wants. There are a few ways to do this: ask him, buy the book, The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman, or (this is one you can do tonight!) go to www.fivelovelanguages.com and both of you take the 30 second test.
The five languages described by Chapman are Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch. Once you can speak your spouse’s language (and he can speak your language) being romantic is easy. You won’t have to search the web or read a variety of ladies’ magazines for tips. You can simply speak in your spouse’s language!
Romance – without kids
Impossible. If you have kids, then you will have to be romantic with them around. Unless, however, you have plenty of disposable cash–re-read the opening paragraph and do that every six weeks. If you have to watch the budget, read on.
Typically the only time to be “romantic” if you have kids is when they are asleep or distracted. So during the waking hours, here are some ideas (can you say cheap?) for having some romantic time:
- Have a Movie Night: Cook dinner or order pizza, pop popcorn, put in a DVD (preferably something they haven’t seen or anything that’s at least 60 minutes), turn off the lights to imitate a move theater, give each kid a ticket for one meal, popcorn, drink and send them to the den to eat. Go to your room and lock the door! You and your spouse can talk, laugh, watch your own movie or get out your dancing shoes. You will save on a babysitter and the kids are close–just in case.
- Water guns Galore: Go to the dollar store and buy water guns, get a bucket of water and head to the park. While the kids re-fill their guns and shoot it out, you can spend some quality time (maybe take some sandwiches?) If you only have one kid, they can share and play with other kids in the park so you won’t have to constantly supervise.
- McDonald’s or Chuck E. Cheese’s: I have used this idea with my grade-school kids who are able to play and go to the bathroom on their own. Take them out and let them go. While they are off playing, you and your spouse can sit and talk and the kids can sit at their own table. This may not seem romantic on the surface, but it can lead to great things. The kids will be full, tired and ready for a nap when you get home. Once the kids are asleep–well I’m sure your husband will think of something for you two to do!
Note to Parents of “Special” kids: If you have kids with autism or physical disabilities, it is worth your sanity to get a qualified caretaker if only for a few hours to allow you and your spouse time together–out of the house and away from the kids.
There are special challenges with raising kids who need full-time care and your marriage can surely suffer if it is not treated like a separate and special entity. Feed it. Love it. Make time for it–even if you have to save or ask family and friends for help. Your marriage needs and deserves it.