“Romance?? What romance??”
This is a very common reaction of busy parents. Who has time for romance when you are completely drowned in raising your kids, having a career, attending to the elders in the home, and trying to steal time to meet with your friends. Raising your children itself is a full-time job. You are always running around: either dropping them off or picking them up, attending parent-teacher conferences and school talent shows, cheering them at sports practices and games, reading them bedtime stories, bathing, changing, feeding, consoling, awarding, disciplining, and most of all loving and caring for your children with all your heart. After all of this, who has energy to give to your spouse? We even forget sometimes that there was once a flourishing romance in our lives!
Invest in the relationship for a successful romantic marriage
We have to find time and energy to keep the love alive in the marriage. Easier said than done, right? Getting married is easy, staying married and being satisfied in the relationship is hard work. There is a lot of commitment involved. We have to nurture the relationship from time to time, and take care of it. Your relationship with your life partner is like a tree. Regular water, enough sunlight, occasional fertilizer gives you a healthy, blossoming tree. If the tree is healthy, its roots will go deeper so a small storm will not uproot it. It will yield fragrant flowers and sweet, scrumptious fruits. Without nourishment and care, the tree will struggle to stay alive.
Some simple ideas for nurturing romance
Don’t wait for date night. Date nights are over-hyped because our expectations hit the roof when we call it 'date night’. We are looking for a perfect day, a perfect restaurant, a perfect dress and a perfect outcome. This is unrealistic. Instead of focusing on date night, try and invest in small acts of love starting with yourself.
Invest in yourself
It sounds a bit odd to hear “focus on yourself first” when we are talking about rekindling romance. Think about it for a minute though. Romance comes from a healthy relationship with your partner and that healthy relationship starts with a healthy you! You can’t give what you don’t have. If you are feeling confident, loved, and secure then it will reflect in your actions. Once you believe in yourself and love yourself for your strengths, you will find more energy to invest in others you love. Encourage each other to do things that you each really love like going to a game, a concert, or a small outing. Whether you go by yourself or with your friends, this nourishment will enrich your love.
Light a candle, spray on perfume, put on a romantic song, or keep a small bouquet of flowers in your bedroom on any regular day. It does not have to be an anniversary or a birthday. Ambiance creates the mood. It separates your bedroom from other rooms in the house, prompting you and your spouse to feel comforted, relaxed, and romantic.
Acts of service
Why wait for a special night when you can express your love by showing them you are thinking of them. Surprise them by making their favorite food. Be aware of your spouse’s mood. Notice if they are stressed after work and offer to do their chores, or rub their back. Provide a listening ear if they want to vent about a lazy colleague or a demanding boss.
Present a small bouquet of flowers with a big smile, Surprise your partner with a box of their favorite chocolate or sweet. Express your love by giving a thoughtful gift which says, “I was thinking of you and I got something you like.”
Touch is important
We humans have a very effective tool to show our love. We communicate through touch. Giving a big hug just because you felt like it, stealing a peck on the cheek, and watching TV while holding hands may feel like boring advice but it goes a long way. We do want to keep it rated ‘G’ around kids. However, it is important for your kids to know that it is alright to show your love to someone in an appropriate way.
Say it in words
Many times we compliment our spouse in our head. Bring them on your lips, say it out loud to them. Say ‘thank you’ for watching kids when you had a meeting. Notice their efforts and acknowledge them. If you can't do it right away, send a text soon after. Talk about their strengths with others when they are present. Some people thrive on positive feedback. They love getting noticed and that reflects in giving more attention to their partners.
Spending time together
This is the biggest investment in any relationship. Every couple of weeks, find some time to spend together without any distractions, including TVs, phones, or other friends or relatives. Be flexible about the place and the activity. Going to the beach and enjoying snacks together can be a rewarding experience. A candlelight dinner when no one is home can be a perfect way to rekindle the romance. Arrange babysitting with a friend, where you can take turns watching each other’s kids. You can also find some time by not attending your child’s extracurricular activity once in a while. There is no need to feel guilty about it when you are investing that time in your marriage. This way your children are also learning how parents need special time too.
Keep your expectations low and be ready for change of plans. Somehow, kids always know when we plan outings and they come down with a fever. Be ready for obstacles like this and if it happens, plan again.
Don’t compete with your friends
It is important to remember that your relationship with your spouse is unique. Your experiences are unique. Don’t compare them with others. You are going to do what seems appropriate for your relationship at this point in time. Remember not to get trapped by social media posts. Someone might be frequently posting their pictures of going on exotic vacations, eating at fancy restaurants, with big smiles and lots of hearts and that’s ok. Of course, you can borrow ideas, but do not expect the same result. Look at your precious moments together and how much fun and joy you experienced. Cherish it.
Try out what works for you as a couple. I highly recommend reading 5 Love Languages. Some of the ideas mentioned above are based on the book.
In short, keep your eyes on the long-term gains, invest in small acts of love, and enjoy!!