Tag Archives: romance

How Important Is Romance In Your Marriage?

Thanks to Grace Pamer for today’s Guest Post!

For those unromantic souls out there who see marriage as a social contract, something that makes society work and nothing more, romance is clearly not an issue. But for most of us who fell in love with a wonderful person, then married him or her as a pledge of commitment and fidelity to that person, romance in a marriage is extremely important. It can be the rock on which the marriage is based, and it can sustain a long marriage through trials and dry spots when the natural and normal difficulties arise. When two people live a life together, they will inevitably have problems that come from being in that situation, and romance can help to solve those kinds of problems.

PROBLEM: BOREDOM

Depending on how long you have been married, or how tolerant you can be, familiarity will definitely set in, and the result can be boredom. Getting bored is a human condition, and if you find your formerly charming and entertaining mate is becoming stale and all too familiar, you need some romance in your lives. When this happened to a couple I know, they decided to take a weekend off from normal life every other month or so and do something completely new, something that would put them in an unfamiliar but romantic setting. By going to an opera together and spending the night in a downtown hotel, or spending a weekend hiking and camping, they found that they each became more interesting people to each other. The key is to find a romantic activity that is outside of your zone of familiarity, and to make sure that it is as romantic for both of you as it can possibly be. If you make the effort, it can turn that boredom around.

PROBLEM: POOR COMMUNICATION

Habits are hard to break, but even worse is when they slowly grow into common behaviors and you have no idea how it happened. Most married couples in the early years of their lives together communicate in a healthy way, because that’s how they got to know each other and to be able to stay together. But as time goes by, communication can slip, and the partners take each other for granted. They forget how to talk and how to express their needs, so their needs go unmet and resentment grows. To stop this, my wife and I decided to do some research on how to communicate better, after admitting that it was a problem, of course. We found that a simple book of romantic conversation starters was a very good way to let romance fix the problem. By talking more and learning how to really communicate, our romance level skyrocketed – and that was a very good thing.

PROBLEM: STRESS

There is not enough time in modern life to take care of everything that needs to be taken care of, romance and marriage included. When time is an issue, stress is the result, and a couple who are overstressed are going to be under-passionate and romantic. By making a conscious effort to reduce the stress in your lives in a romantic way, a major problem can be addressed and solved. Most of the standard stress-reduction methods can be turned into chances for romance with a bit of imagination. Take a yoga or meditation class, and then practice together, making it a quiet but romantic date. Set aside a time to listen to calming romantic music with some candles and cushions, and let the stress fade while your passion flows.

MARRIAGE NEEDS ROMANCE

Sustaining a marriage is something that requires work, cooperation, and commitment. But a married couple is already accustomed to those things; it’s what a successful marriage is about, after all. When you decide to use romance to sustain your marriage, you also decide that it is worth the effort, and your partnership will be stronger and last longer.

About today’s guest poster: Grace Pamer is the author of Romance Never Dies, a blog which gives insights into the art of putting together great marriage proposal ideas.

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Thanks again, Grace, for those great tips. Readers, please feel free to share your ideas in the comments for infusing romance into your marriage!

Lori Lowe is the founder of Marriage Gems and author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in all e-book formats at www.LoriDLowe.com.

Photo by Photostock courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

How to Keep Your Marriage Alive with Exciting Dates

Thanks to Sarah Fanning for providing today’s guest post! While going on dates with your spouse is not a panacea for the perfect marriage, too few couples make time and effort to spend together having fun. See if some of Sarah’s suggestions prompt some creativity for you and your love.

Guest Post by Sarah Fanning:

When a couple has been married for a number of years, things can become a little boring. The truth is that when a couple is together for a long time, the relationship can end up feeling like it’s stuck. But if two people are willing to put in the work, there’s no reason why the spark can’t be re-lit in a marriage.

Relationships require effort. To keep a marriage fresh, both people in it need to be committed to fully being present in the relationship. Time must be set aside to spend together, without the kids. The couple has to take time to remind each other what it was like when it was just the two of them, before there was a family to support and a mortgage which had to be paid. The best way to do that will be to always carve out a space where they can remain physically, emotionally, and spiritually connected with one another.

Here are a few fun date ideas for the married couple looking to keep that spark alive and well.

1. Cook together
Send the kids to the grandparents’ (or neighbors’) and schedule a candlelit dinner at home for two. Find a recipe neither of you has made before then learn to prepare it as a team. Turn the TV off and turn on the music and just hang out together as you discover something new together. As the food is being prepared, there will be opportunities to talk, laugh, and enjoy being together. Once the dinner is finished, sit down and enjoy the meal by the light of the candles.

2. Take a road trip
Going on a weekend road trip is a great way for a couple to get away and find some alone time. No matter where you live, there’s bound to be an interesting spot perfect for a weekend getaway. It could be a spa retreat or a camping trip, the main point is to get away and try something new and interesting as a couple.

3. A “rolling back the years” date
Many times when a couple has been married for a while, they stop doing the things they used to do when they first began dating. Having a “rolling back the years” date is a good way for a couple to have fun and recapture what it was like when they were young and in love. Go skating, bowling, or hiking and have fun reminiscing about those early days. This is a good way for a couple to call to their remembrance what made them fall in love with each other in the first place.

4. Have some fun
The sky’s the limit when it comes to deciding on what to do during the time spent together as a couple. Be creative and think of new things to experience together. The goal is to have fun, learn new things about the world, each other, and ultimately, strengthen the bond in the marriage.

Sarah has worked in the relationship industry and currently works for a dating agency in London called Lovestruck. During this time, she has improved her knowledge to help those looking for relationship advice and understands how important it is to keep relationships alive by using your imagination and initiative to show your partner how much you care for them. Good luck and have fun!

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Thanks again, Sarah. As a reminder, research continues to support doing NEW, EXCITING things as a way to increase your oxytocin levels and increase the strength of the marriage bond. If you have other exciting dating ideas, feel free to add them in the comments.

Lori Lowe is the founder of Marriage Gems and author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in all e-book formats at www.LoriDLowe.com.

Photo by photostock courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

Rules for Reconnecting with Your Spouse

 A big thank you to Wanda Collins from Christian-Marriage-Today.com for today’s guest post!

 If your children, employer, cell phone, or computer are getting more “playtime” than your spouse, it’s time for a little marriage intervention.

Like a lot of us, you probably lead a very busy life. But if your busy lifestyle is coming between you and your spouse, something’s got to give.  You see, a marriage cannot run on autopilot; it needs your time and attention to soar. Thus, it is essential that you learn to create balance in your life by loving harder, working smarter, and making your marriage a daily priority. Consider these Rules for Reconnecting with Your Spouse:

 Rule#1: Set Boundaries with Your Children

It’s crucial that you find time to invest in your children but investing in your marriage should come first. Teach your children to respect and appreciate mommy and daddy’s time alone. After all, your marriage is a heritage for your children and their children. So, provide them with the healthiest example of married life that you possibly can. Go a step further and explain to your children, in an age appropriate way, how important your time alone is and how it benefits them in the long run.

Rule#2: Shut it Down

Although technology provides us with many conveniences, these conveniences can also become habit forming. My advice is to create a new habit. Try shutting down all electronic devices, such as your cell phone, computer, and television at the same time each night. Once you are unplugged, give your spouse your undivided attention. Use this down time to simply talk with your mate. Try not to discuss bills, children, or work.

Rule#3: Make Time for Sex

I recommend you put sex on your calendar.  This may sound prudish but planning sex has many overlooked benefits. For starters, you can negotiate how often the two of you have sex during the week. This way both partners are satisfied. Scheduling sex also eliminates the old excuse of not being in the mood because the two of you have all day to mentally prepare and get in the mood. Sex is no longer “Hit or miss,” pun intended.

 Rule #4:  Put Date Night in Your Budget

My husband and I would sometimes skip date night because we thought we couldn’t afford it.  We made paying bills and saving for the future a priority over investing in our relationship.  I’m not suggesting you skip paying your utilities this month.  What I am suggesting is that the two of you set aside an agreed upon amount of money each month for date night. That way, date night doesn’t become a burdensome expense. Keep in mind you don’t have to over spend to have fun. Date night can be both fun and inexpensive.  Side note: Sitting in front of the television is OK occasionally, but technically is not a date.

 Rule #5: Just Say No

 Don’t say “No” to your spouse. Say “No” to anyone who attempts to give you added responsibilities that will upset the balance in your life.  That includes saying “No” to yourself. Some of us are workaholics; we have difficulty unplugging from work. Force yourself to stop doing whatever it is that you do and give that time to your spouse instead. By the way, you should also feel free to say “No” to bringing work home with you.

Rule #6: Be Creative

One couple told me that they created special email accounts just for the purpose of flirting with each other through out the day. They started by choosing sexy usernames, and then proceeded to email each other sexy suggestions to stay connected during the day.  Here’s an idea: After implementing Rule #3, you can use your special email accounts on the days that you have designated for sex. Flirting all day will prepare you for the real action later that evening.

Rule #7: Pray Together

Praying together is one of the most intimate things you can do as a couple. Not only is joint prayer an act of intimacy, but joint prayer is also a powerful weapon against the attacks of Satan.  So, make praying together a daily routine for reconnecting with each other and with God.

Rule #8: Just Do It!

It was Nike who first coined the phrase “Just do it!” back in the late 1980’s.  Although marriage is a life-long commitment, life is shorter than you realize. So, instead of simply reading this article and thinking about the ideas, take an active approach and put these rules into action.  Like Nike says, “Just do it!”

Thanks for the great advice, Wanda! These are all rules I try to abide by in my home. How do you choose to reconnect with your spouse?

Photo by Arvydas Kniuksta

3 Tips to Warm Up Your Marriage This Winter

Women’s Health Magazine had some good suggestions in its September 2011 issue that I thought I’d share. These cold winter months are the perfect time for giving your spouse some extra attention.

  1. Pretend you just met. Author and psychologist Terri Orbuch, PhD, says couples often stop asking “get to know you” questions, because they think they already know each other. However, since we all change and develop, we need to be constantly checking in to keep the daily connection growing. So, instead of chatting about your daily agenda, spend some time pretending like you just started dating. Ask what he would do if he won the lottery or what her favorite book is. Or, ask about positive family memories or what the best ball game was he ever watched. Anything that would spark a good conversation. Don’t assume you know all your partner’s responses even if you’ve been married a long time.
  2. Tweet responsibly. Avid tweeters tend to have shorter relationships—10 percent shorter, on average. If you’re big into social media, learn how to disconnect from technology and truly connect with your spouse. (Based on a survey of 100,000 people from OKCupid.com) Be sure the time you tweet isn’t time taken away from being one-on-one with your spouse.
  3. Be intimate at least weekly. Frequency of sex is a marker for successful relationships. The average American couple gets busy two or three times a month. But increasing this to once a week generates as much bliss as earning an additional $50,000 in annual income, according to researchers from Dartmouth College and the University of Warwick in England. They even explain the reasoning behind the statistic. “Couples who like each other end up in bed more often, says the study author. “And it’s the liking-each-other part that increases joy.

If one of your goals for 2012 is to give your relationship a shot of inspiration, read my book, First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage , which tells the stories of a dozen amazing couples who used adversity to improve their marriage. Go here for links to Amazon print version or e-books for Kindle, iTunes, Sony, Nook or PDF. If you already have the book, don’t forget to email me for your 7 free marriage improvement gifts, including everything from an e-book to improve your sex life to date night suggestions, an iPhone app with daily marriage tips, a marriage refresher workbook, a video to hone your communication skills, and tips for how to connect on a daily basis with your spouse in just 15 minutes a day.

Photo by Ambro courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Have an Affair with Your Spouse

As a follow up to Are You Jealous of Your Friend’s Divorce?, I said I would offer some research-based advice to make your marriage exciting and satisfying so that you wouldn’t be tempted by other options outside your marriage. So here are some tips with further reading:

Plan New, Exciting Activities
I’ve said it before, married life isn’t dull, or at least it doesn’t need to be. Two interesting people will lead and interesting life together. It may take a nudge to get us out of our comfort zones on occasion, but don’t be afraid to make a change, try something new, learn a new skill, volunteer together, etc. Read Choose Exciting Over Pleasant Activities to Boost Marriage, then along with your spouse make a list of things you would each like to do that are exciting. Rate each activity 1-10 for pleasantness and excitement. Find something that you both find moderately pleasant but high on the excitement scale. Then, put it on the calendar and make it happen.

Shun Boredom Both In and Out of the Bedroom
Read Banish Boredom from the Bedroom with 7 useful tips from the author of Hot Monogamy, Patricia Love. Boredom outside of the bedroom can be just as deadly. Research shows conflict isn’t the only cause of divorce; boredom can kill a marriage. Being bored reduces closeness and slowly decreases marital satisfaction. Find shared fun activities and new adventures to keep your relationship exciting. Research shows that if partners experience excitement from other sources (such as participating in new, challenging activities together), this shared experience can reignite the passion in your marriage!

Keep Romance Alive
Read 7 Ways to Create Sparks Every Day for tips on keeping those romantic flames burning.

Bottom Line
If you can only focus on one thing, spend more dedicated, quality time with your spouse. Remember why you fell in love and focus on those positive attributes.

What are your biggest challenges in keeping your relationship fun, interesting and exciting? Most people will say time is their biggest challenge. Make your marriage a top priority if you would like to increase your happiness in love and life.

Photo by savit keaw tavee courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

How to Make Everyday Marriage Feel More Romantic

I’m the first to admit everyday marriage can lose its luster. Monday mornings are particularly difficult for most families. We have all our “have-to-dos” running through our minds. We’re lucky to spare a second for a brief peck on the cheek.

Here are a six ways to make your week feel more romantic.

  1. Leave a small note for your spouse somewhere they will find it during the work day (in their brief case, on the washing machine door, on the bathroom mirror). You can just say, “Love you” or you can say you enjoyed the weekend, or thank them for any small thing. Or, go the extra mile and make or buy a card and either mail it to your honey or leave it for them. If you’re very short on time, at least send a text or email.
  2. Make plans to have some time to connect during the week. Can you have a short lunch together? Or have a drink on the patio after the kids are in bed? Fit something into your schedule to talk about something other than how to manage your schedules.
  3. Ask for what would please you. Even though we often perceive that our spouse knows what we are thinking after all this time together, it’s not true. If you want to go out more, or if you need a little down time after you come home for work, or if you’d like to be surprised more, or have him bring home chocolate, share this gently with your partner while you’re having quiet time. (Don’t snap about it after getting into an argument over who was supposed to empty the dishwasher.)
  4. Touch more. The U.S. is very unaffectionate compared to other cultures. Many families are also very non-touchy. But research shows couples (or even friends or sports teams) are strengthened by more touching. Make an extra effort to give a touch, a hug, a kiss, a pat or any kind of affection throughout the day, not just as a precursor to making love. How many times did you touch yesterday?
  5. Plan something soon you can both look forward to—a visit to a new museum or restaurant, snuggling to watch football on Sunday, or going on a bike ride together after work one evening. It’s great if you also have something more long-term, like a vacation getaway, to look forward to. Having something positive on the agenda helps you on those Monday mornings when things are feeling way too hectic.
  6. Think positive, grateful thoughts about your spouse even when you can’t be together. When you’re stuck in an endless meeting, or driving carpool, or waiting at the doctor’s office, think positive thoughts or say a prayer for your spouse. Positivity and gratefulness (as well as prayer) have all been shown in research to benefit relationships.

It’s so easy to let the busyness of life push the priority of our marriage down. But tiny investments in time and attention can pay dividends.

Photo by photostock courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net.

Does Reading Romance Novels Stifle Real Romance?

“Keeping the Sparks Alive” Series

Some experts have recently suggested reading romance novels fuels unrealistic expectations about love, and are as addictive and as damaging to relationships as pornography.

I’d like your input on this subject. Do romantic novels, movies, and shows make you feel more romantic toward your partner, or do they cause you to expect constantly “romantic” behavior from your partner, thereby causing you to be more dissatisfied with your relationship? Are you waiting to be swept off your feet and showered with rose petals?

To be honest, I had never given much thought to romance novels’ impact on a relationship or marriage until a few reviews came out like this one. I had, however, thought a good deal about how the fairytale mentality so widespread in our culture creates unrealistic expectations. Romantic comedies and TV shows like The Bachelor, which often end in a fairytale-like proposal, also fall under this category of creating unrealistic expectations.

Psychologist Dr. Juli Slattery reports she is seeing more and more women “clinically addicted” to romantic books, and that for many women these novels promote dissatisfaction with their real relationships. Some experts claim there are parallels between what happens to a man when he watches pornography and what happens to a woman when she reads a romance book. While other experts say addiction may be too strong a word, sex addiction expert Paula Hall agrees that romance books can become an “unhealthy preoccupation.”

This article profiles a 24-year-old advertising executive in London who describes how she enjoys the ideal fantasy world of romance books, in which “the men are always strong, handsome providers and everything is done for mad, crazy love.”  Her constant striving for the perfect relationship found in these books has led to multiple failed relationships. Of her last relationship, she said she put too much pressure on them both to live “a fairy tale” but learned the hard way that real life isn’t constant romance. Her inability to be satisfied ultimately destroyed what had been a good relationship, and now she’s left looking for her “Prince Charming.”

Fans of these romance novels tell a different story, suggesting that high expectations for romance isn’t a bad thing, and that women are smart enough to know the difference between fact and fiction. Some say believing in love and a happily-ever-after ending is a good thing to hold onto. A 2005 study even found out that women who read romance novels are less likely to divorce.

Some evidence suggests the recent boon of electronic readers has fueled the growth of romance novels, because readers don’t have to be ashamed to carry their book around. Even the recession did not damper sales of romance books.

So, what’s your take? Do you think the romantic books, movies and TV shows of today are fueling unrealistic expectations, or do they help you feel romantic toward your partner?

Additional Info:

If you’re interested in more reading on this subject, I found this honors thesis by Jennifer Bunn at Boston College from 2007 on the effects of romance novel readership: “Results showed that women in their late teens and early twenties had very high ideals and expectations when it came to relationship characteristics, but did not have many dysfunctional beliefs or romantic ideals. They tended to be very satisfied in their romantic relationships, and were more satisfied when their actual relationship resembled their ideal relationship. Results of this study also indicated that women were not just solely drawn to romance novels that supported their currently held beliefs, but postulated that such an attraction could also have originated from their own hopes and desires for their actual relationship. The content of these books influence the thoughts and perceptions of millions of readers around the world, making it into a very powerful medium. Similar to television, romance novels portray reality in many unrealistic ways, therefore influencing the perceptions that readers have about social constructs and relationship standards and expectations.”