When we think of romance, we often think of flowers, expensive dates, fancy restaurants, or weekend getaways. We envision candle-lit dinners setting the mood for an evening away from the busyness of everyday life. These things are lovely, but not always practical or accessible. If romance is limited to these things, we miss significant opportunities to enjoy everyday romance in our relationships.
Romance speaks many languages of love. For instance, my husband is sexier when he is helping me with a project. Folding laundry or running the vacuum are romantic gestures that say, “I want to demonstrate how much you matter to me.” I love it when my husband comes home from work and after giving me a kiss and asks, “How can I help?” Sometimes my greatest need was soothing a toddler, or running to the store for the dinner’s missing item, or just listening to my bad day. None of these things may sound romantic, but these gestures of caring fuel the good feelings that we have for our spouse.
Intimacy is more than physical. Deep relationships require connections at the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual levels as well. Intimacy (or lack of it) in one area effects all the others. Everyday romance begins with simple gestures in all these areas. Dictionary.com describes the word romantic as, “displaying or expressing love or strong affection.” To be romantic is to take the risk of placing your affections on display, and those affections might be words of encouragement, acts of service, a gentle touch, praying together, and more. Our true feelings are more than words, they are the love in our hearts being demonstrated in our behaviors. So how can we tap these resources to bring romance into our relationships?
Become a student of your spouse. Spend time learning from your spouse what matters to them. Are they in need of more of your time or a listening ear? Do they need the gift of time alone to recharge their emotional battery? Find out what concerns are on their heart. With what burdens are they struggling? Take time to discover what your spouse sees as romantic. Ask your spouse what you can do to make them feel loved and valued in the relationship.
Spending time washing the dishes or working on the lawn together demonstrates that you are collaborators working toward the same goals and willing to make the effort to keep your partner from struggling alone. An evening spent completing a task that is hanging over one spouses head will draw you together and end the day with a feeling of accomplishment and appreciation.
We can nurture intellectual intimacy by sharing ideas. What topics interest you? What fascinates your spouse? Learning, talking, working, and dreaming together, thinking about how to solve the world’s problems, unites us together intellectually. When we share ideas and do projects together we demonstrate that we value our spouse for their mind as much as their other qualities. Time in conversation takes down barriers between you and helps to get you both on the same page. Even if you are not in agreement on every issue, demonstrate that you value the time spent in discussion.
Share your feelings to build emotional intimacy. Wonder and ask how your spouse is feeling. If we only share superficially with each other, we miss out on emotional intimacy. Take the opportunity to ask your spouse about how their experiences made them feel. See if you can name the emotion your spouse is feeling. A comment like, “That must have been frustrating” or “It sounds exciting” will show your spouse that you are seeking their heart. We can talk about the facts and details all day, but it's bearing witness to the emotional impact that makes a person feel seen. Talking about feelings can feel intimidating, but it will deepen your relationship and open the doors of emotional intimacy in your relationship. Take the time to tune in to how your spouse is feeling and share your own feelings to help your relationship experience deeper intimacy.
Time spent in scripture, prayer, and worship unites us spiritually. Shared spiritual practices create a deeper level of intimacy within the marriage relationship. When we encourage one another in our spiritual growth, our relationship with God and one another grows as well. Joining together in worship helps us catch a greater vision of God’s kingdom agenda and guides our hearts to live with the love of Christ Jesus.
Choosing to draw near and attend to your spouse will fuel intimacy. It is easy to get distracted by the busyness of life and miss the opportunities to engage with one another. Work and family demands can leave us exhausted. Small efforts can tune your heart toward your spouse. Don't neglect touching each other. Just a touch can show that you care and are attempting to draw closer in the relationship. A random kiss, a held hand, a foot massage, or a backrub while watching TV demonstrate that you seek closeness in the relationship and even care about the aches and pains your spouse experiences. Become aware of the things that pull you away and learn how to set limits around those things to prioritize your relationship.
Sometimes we take for granted all of the ways that our spouse is caring for us. It is a blessing to have dinner on the table and children cared for. It is a blessing to have the lawn mowed and bills paid. We need to see all of the little things that our spouse does for the family as the blessing that they are. If we start paying attention and complimenting the behavior, we will begin to see the blessings for the gift that they are. Genuine compliments also serve to reinforce the good things behaviors present in our relationship.
So even if you don’t have money for a fancy vacation or time for a weekend getaway there are lots of ways that you can get intentional about bringing romance into your relationship.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God (1 John 4:7).
Choose to demonstrate love in your relationship to experience a deeper intimacy. Intimacy does not just happen, it is cultivated by enacting love day by day. God has given intimacy to us as a gift to deepen our marriages.
Delight in the gift that he has given to you.
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra
Rev. Travis Jamieson