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When we were dating, we'd take long walks under starry skies, hand in hand, discussing our future and our dreams. We'd stay up until 3:AM, soft music playing in the background, talking about where God was taking us. We got married and I'd surprise him with special romantic dinners in our teeny apartment, getting so gussied up, dinner would inevitably get cold (wink, wink).
And then life kicked into gear. Jobs required more of our time. We added kids. And activities. And stress.
And now romance is not so easily attained. It requires effort. It has to be thought about and planned. While sometimes it's one more thing to do (please, no more!), the benefits always outweigh the hassle. Society jokes that romance ends with marriage, but I think God designed marriage to include romance for very specific reasons.
Romance identifies you as belonging to each other.
Maybe because I spent so many high school and wedding dances watching everybody else have a good time, I find dancing very romantic. It's you and him on the dance floor surrounded by people, yet you only have eyes for each other. You are cheek to cheek. You smell the cologne on his neck. His arm pulls you in close, clinging tightly to your waist and he clutches your hand in his. Your legs tangle in step together, your bodies gently sway in synch. You whisper in each other's ear and laugh at private jokes.
And there is no doubt you are tight and very together.
I don't know about you, but I like being identified with my husband. I like knowing we go together. Every romantic encounter cements the idea of "US" in our heads, helping us behave and act like a unit, like one, as God intended.
Romance provides memories to bond you.
I can think of several special encounters with my husband--a kiss in the fog by the pond after we first uttered "I love you", his arranging the delivery of a gift and handwritten note for me each day he was gone on a 12-day trip, the way he grabs my hand under the table when we pray over meals, sleeping in our living room next to the lit Christmas tree, eating dinner outside in Ancient Rome with rain lightly falling on the awning over us, unexpected and touching e-mails, a hot tub in Louisiana...These make up who we are as a couple. Romantic moments build memories to fall back on in tough days. When times are not so idyllic, they serve to remind us who we have been, who we are. I may think him insensitive today, but recalling a thoughtful gesture or special night in the past reminds me what is true about him. Focusing on truth sustains a marriage.
Romance provides emotional connection.
When I asked my husband what he thought about romance in marriage, whether he felt it was necessary or not, he reflected for a moment (he's becoming more like me every day--woo hoo!) and then he said, "Yeah...it's fun. It's a good way for guys in particular to get in touch with their emotions." Can you believe this guy? I couldn't get better answers if I was feeding them myself!
But I think he's on to something. As I've been pondering this topic the last few days, one thing that came to mind was how often romantic interludes include or lead to sexual intimacy. There's no coincidence there. Romantic moves make women feel special, loved and more apt to offer themselves to their husbands. The emotional connection draws us to one another, enhancing our physical relationship. And who would say the extra effort was not well worth it when it leads to more satisfying and meaningful sexual encounters? This could be a whole topic in itself (Trust me, you don't want to get me started on this one.). The sexual union is a critical component in any marriage and is too often dismissed. Sex is not just for fun. It also builds unity, oneness and trust. Any additional help we can give to this area is vital to the health of our marriages. Are you hearing what I'm saying?!
Romance provides retreat and sanctuary.
Life is tough. Responsibilities wear us down. We get tired, at least I do, of the same routine, the same work, the same duties. Perhaps it is a personal weakness of mine, but I often long to escape the ordinary. An enchanted evening gives me a break from the everyday. It doesn't have to be much, dinner together, a walk on a summer evening. Even the suggestion of romance offers reprieve. Every so often my husband will snuggle into me and whisper, "I wish I could take you away somewhere". It gets me every time. To know he thinks of it (at least as often as I) is almost as good as actually going.
A little romance reminds us there is more to life than work and responsibilities. When I'm able to have time alone with my man, I let down. I feel like me again and know there's more to me than any of the roles I fill. Romantic time with my husband makes me feel special and important. We find refreshment and fun, relaxation and joy. There is sanctuary from the outside world. How beautiful of God to design marriage to accommodate this need for retreat. There is something very good about finding solace from life's problems in each other.
Lest you think me a complete idealist, let me tell you I'm completely aware of how difficult it can be to cultivate romance in marriage. We have four kids. We know all about hectic schedules and good intentions and interruptions! I wish I could say we have it all figured out, but then I'd be lying. As hard as it can be, every effort, whether successfully executed or not, tells our mate they are important. Times reserved for the two of you are never wasted. Maintaining romance in our unions will sustain and greatly enhance the enjoyment in our marriages. It's worth fighting for.
Romance matters. Indeed.
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