When Sheri and I speak publicly, we almost always make the point that our romantic relationship has never been better. Then I cringe when Sheri goes a step further and says, “After twenty-five years, few couples can say their sex life is better than ever!”
I wouldn’t have put it quite the way Sheri did, but she’s right. Over the years our relationship is a deeper, more expressive, higher priority partnership.
With a sense of relief and new-found hope, couples talk to us afterward about their concern for fading love. They are encouraged and relieved that a couple who is more mature in calendar years, like us, can still be in love.
There is a common worry among engaged couples that romance will fade months and years into their marriage. Pre-married couples don’t want the attraction and anticipation they feel today to fade into complacency and coldness tomorrow. They want to know how to avert what they believe is an inevitable romantic shortfall in the years to come.
Here’s how to promote passion in your relationship.
Get it Right Spiritually
The turning point came after ten years of marriage. A bad business decision plunged us deeply into indifference and separateness, bringing us inches from marital collapse. Foreclosure and divorce were common words. Days before crashing, God’s timing brought us to a church where over several weeks we discovered spiritual truth. We recognized the importance of including God in our relationship and how to engage in a personal relationship with Him.
The Bible emphasizes the significance of each person’s spiritual condition, and the importance of the couple, husband and wife, being on the same page spiritually. You cannot reach full marriage potential if you are in different places.
The first step is to objectively evaluate your spiritual condition. For marriage to really work, to achieve true intimacy, you need God in the center of your relationship. When you turn to God for your source of power, He will strengthen and bring you closer together. He will take you beyond simple human intimacy, to spiritual intimacy.
Serve Your Spouse
Before I truly understood what it meant to serve Sheri, I would perform acts of kindness expecting something in return. For example, if I washed Sheri’s car, I expected her to bake me chocolate chip cookies. Or if I went grocery shopping, I counted on a romantic encounter later that night. Even though my expectations were left unstated, there was an underlying hope that Sheri would reciprocate.
Authentic servanthood means, without expecting something in return, persistently watching for ways you can love, assist, facilitate, support, praise, appreciate, protect and please your spouse - and then taking action.
That’s not always easy. Serving opportunities may come at inconvenient times and usually when you’re not in serving-mode. You need to be in a my-spouse-is-number-one mindset. Remember, your spouse comes first; you come second.
Sometimes serving means tangible gifts or actions, but most often serving is characterized by simple words or acts of love.
Loving your spouse with a servant’s heart is a key principle in setting the stage for romance. Serving tangibly expresses your love to each other and makes your marriage stronger.
Engaged couples often express concern about losing that spark of spontaneity in their relationship. I can relate. The longer I’m married, the more difficult it is to be spontaneous. The days are short and life is complicated with little time for creative bursts of romance. So what can you do?
Words like plan, schedule and appointment don’t sound very impulsive, but updating your vocabulary is what it takes to inject ‘spontaneous’ romance into your marriage.
My Palm Pilot is full of reminder alarms for anniversaries, birthdays, weekend getaways, flower orders, dinner dates and surprise vacations. If you’re like me, it’s easy to forget these opportunities as time slips by.
If you have a romantic thought during the day, take action! Pick up the phone and make the dinner reservation; stop by the Hallmark and pickup the card; call your wife and tell her “I love you.” I’m on a first name basis with my florist. All I need to do is pick up the phone and put the order on my account - it doesn’t get easier than that.
Your romantic adventures can be exotic or simple. Romantic getaways, dates and gifts don’t need to be pricey. Be creative! Chocolates, bath oil, candles and silk boxers are all inexpensive and work wonders!
Sometimes you need to be strategic. Sheri still talks about the surprise limo that picked her up at work, and whisked her off to a day at the spa and a romantic overnight at a four star hotel - with her sexy husband, of course. That experience required lots of up-front preparation, but was well worth it.
Take initiative in planning that surprise afternoon, sending the kids to grandmas for the weekend or creating that romantic environment in the bedroom. At a minimum, you should set aside a weekly date night - you need that regular time to unwind and refocus on each other. That should be a priority.
As un-spontaneous as this sounds, sustained romance in marriage doesn’t just happen - it takes intentionality, sensitivity and action.