Joe and I love looking back at old journals and love letters we wrote to each other. Some of that stuff we laugh at but some of it brings back the ooooohhhhh how sweet! The love and affection and romance that flowed from our pens was something else!
For most couples there was a time when those romantic feelings came so easily. Anything and everything was romantic. Because it was him. It was her.
Those in- love head-over-heels feelings may have just showed up back in the beginning. But years later, they have to be cultivated. You may have to act before you feel. Rekindling the romance is possible!
When I’m thinking about how to grow romance, I thought, maybe I should consult my much much younger self. What did we do, what did we say that was so romantic?
1. Focus on those little mannerisms you love.
When you first fell in love, even the little way he turned his head was amazing, right? It didn’t matter how small of a detail it was. You noticed it and it made him all the more amazing. Guess what? Your spouse still has some funny mannerisms. The unique parts of him that make him oh-so-cute. Notice and appreciate them. And tell him! I love the way Joe scrunches up his face when he’s putting his shoes on. :).
(Don’t focus on all the other mannerisms that drive you crazy. Dwelling on those will not grow romantic feelings.)
2. Small touch.
When you first met- the smallest touch would mean so much. Joe once touched the hair accessory on my head and I replayed it in my head for three weeks. True story. Just because you’ve been married for a while doesn’t mean those small touches have to lose their power. The littlest squeeze on the shoulder or maybe a kiss on the forehead. Show affection in a way you haven’t before!
3. Say each other’s name.
When we were dating there was something magical about hearing Joe say my name. It was never just an “I love you”, it was an “I love you Tara.” Tara this, Tara that, Joe this, Joe that. Say his name. Say her name, more often. We have names for a reason. To distinguish us from everyone else. So that someone else can let us know that they are talking to us. Use your spouse’s name more often! Using special nicknames for each other also is super fun.
4. Short and sweet compliments.
The love letters Joe and I wrote were 90% compliments. We couldn’t fill enough pages of the things we loved about each other. Complimenting your spouse often is more powerful than you think. Your compliments don’t have to be long or detailed or premeditated. The minute you notice something good, say so. Maybe it’s something he has done every day of his life. “I love how good you are at —“. Most of us don’t mind being reminded of what we’re good at! And we gravitate towards the people that tell us so!
5. Thinking about them all the time: Brain Space.
Looking back at my diary during the years Joe and I were dating, it would be an understatement to say he took up some of my brain space! These days a lot of other things are competing for my brain space. I’ve noticed though, how my feelings for Joe shift when I spend time just thinking of him in a positive way. Dwelling on what I love the most about him. Purposefully thanking God for him and praying for him in specific ways. Tell your spouse, “I can’t stop thinking of you!” and see their reaction!
6. Going way out of your way.
This is the stuff of the movies, maybe…. But it is wonderfully romantic for someone to go out of their way to do that one small thing for you. Joe and I lived a hundred miles apart for a few years of our courtship and there were times he would drive all that way to see me for just a couple hours. The schedule finagling we would do just for a few hours together! Joe and I still try to find opportunities like that- to go out of our way to do something special for each other. Clearing my calendar to make sure we have time together.
7. Paying attention to your appearance.
I loved the opportunity to look my very best when Joe and I were dating. Spending way too much time deciding which outfit would be just right. That level of attention can be difficult to maintain! I’ve been a homemaker and homeschooling mom for many years so my kids pretty much know the drill: The minute they see me wearing eye makeup, they ask, “Where are you going?”
I’ve been trying to shift my habits so I don’t only make that effort when I’m going out in public. If I’ve been in housewife mode all day, I’ve been trying to clean up and throw on that eye makeup more often. When the kids ask where I’m going, I just say, “my husband is coming home and I want to look nice for him!” Although we don’t expect each other to be perfectly put together all the time, spending a little extra effort on your appearance – whatever that is- grows romance. Then I love the look on Joe’s face when he walks in says, “Wow! You look especially beautiful today!!…. Where are you going?” ;).
What if that kind of romance is hard because there are bigger issues going on?
Is any of this going to fix any bitterness, resentment, or miscommunication? Not really… that’s where you need large doses of humility, grace, forgiveness, respect. But there is power in every day kindness. Even while you are working through the harder stuff.
Add in those small acts of service, small gestures of kindness, and gentle affection. It will soften your heart for the bigger work that God wants to do in you!
“You have captured my heart, my treasure, my bride. You hold it hostage with one glance of your eyes, with a single jewel of your necklace.” —Song of Solomon 4:9