September 14, 2012

The Romance Game

Romance.  Women generally want more of it…and men feel pressured to deliver. Why does it remain so elusive? 

Last week I shared how our different expectations as men and women can really mess up a romantic anniversary celebration.  But this whole romance thing can get complicated for other reasons as well.

When we’re “in love” romance seems to be in abundance – for men and women.  Many wives I know are perplexed by the fact that their husbands seemed to be quite romantic when they were dating…but the romance fizzled pretty quickly after marriage.  Some would go so far as to say they feel duped.  Tricked.  Even “falsely led.” They thought they married a romantic guy and that at least a little of that would continue in their marriage.  But now he seems anything but romantic! Their disappointment turns into bitterness.

Other wives realize their men weren’t all that romantic during the dating period, but they at least made an attempt once in a while.  Now, they never seem to try at all.

Men are not without blame.  It’s true that we put our best foot forward when we’re dating – trying to win that woman of our dreams!  We are guilty of relaxing in our efforts after marriage, but this usually comes out of our contentment…not our complacency.  Whereas women have an expectation that the romance will continue, most men settle into a simple contentment.  We can appear as though we don’t care, though most of the time that’s not the case.  Still, we need to challenge ourselves to pay attention to the unique needs of our wives.  More on that next time.

Most of us were able to embrace our different needs more when dating.  So what changed?

I think that’s the right question to ask.  But I think we need to ask it of ourselves, not our mates.  How have I changed since marriage?  How am I relating to my spouse differently than I did when we were dating or early in our marriage?

One wife had an “aha” moment when she ran across an old note she wrote her husband.  She writes:  I came across an old card (saved by my husband!). It was when we first moved to a new state and I was pregnant. It was a very stressful time for the both of us.  I wrote in it how proud I was of him making the difficult decision to move and start a new job, etc…it was a respect card and I did not even realize it. When I found the card I was convicted. God was showing me that it wasn’t just my husband that changed. I blamed all of our issues on what I felt was his unloving behavior. I thought I was completely innocent of adding to our problems - I was surely the victim! As I read this card God gently reminded me that I freely gave respect to Mike when we dated and were newly married. I showed appreciation towards him and I encouraged him. He wasn’t the only one who stopped being loving. I stopped being respectful. Who started the downward spiral, only God knows. I am thankful for this message that tells us to keep up what we used to do!

Here’s the point.  Are we too busy blaming our spouse to see how we are contributing to the changes in our marriage?  We can throw stones or step back and ask what we have done to add to the negativity and loss of energy.

Furthermore, do we believe we can re-ignite things by not placing blame?  Instead of demanding our spouse do again what they did at the beginning, can we do again what we did at the beginning – even if it is 68% unfair to us? 

None of us are so weak and powerless that we have no influence.  How can we learn to leverage our influence rather than blaming our spouse for not reacting and responding as we wish they would?  Do we rush to throw our arms up in the air and declare, “Nothing works with you”?  Such a reaction reveals this is more about us than about an authentic interest in touching the need and soul of the one we love.

What do your reactions reveal about you?  I know your spouse is not without blame.  But you are not powerless to ignite change in your marriage.  What can you do to bring a little more romance back to your relationship?  Are you willing to go first?

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