How to Preserve or Recover Early Romance
Ever since we married I have this repeating event on my Friday calendar: “5pm–Date Night With My Bride”(DNWMB). It is the one event we look forward to the most. End of the week. We are going on a date!
90% of DNWMB are without other couples. We sit across the table or next to each other (depending on the view) and focus on our relationship. Minimal time is spent talking about work and family. The rest of the time we spend talking about what is interesting to us: books, movies, documentaries, history, etc… We also talk about what’s going on internally. It’s a time to listen, understand, and support.
Over the years we have refined date nights. We have our “go to” places when we don’t have the energy to put a lot of thought into it. Then we add “go find” places that we discover via social media or recommendations from friends.
DNWMB is more than a staple event. It is a date. We focus on two things: our friendship and romantic bond.
Romance is Endangered
I counsel or coach couples on a weekly basis. Some are young and just getting started. Others have been together for a long time. In both types, I discover romance is often lacking. The reasons vary. What alarms me is that romance is an endangered dynamic in most marriages.
If you are a young couple, there are some things you can do to preserve early romance in your relationship. Likewise, if you are an older couple, there are ways you can recover early romance. Here are 5 things you can do to preserve or recover early romance.
Agree together this is what you want
Without mutual agreement you have one person doing the work of two. This will not work! Resentment will be the likely outcome of this pattern. (More on this later.)
I suggest you sit down together and make some agreements. Do not rehash past failures. This is not a time for finger pointing. Instead, clasp fingers as a symbol of coming together and talk about your desire for romance and friendship.
Guys, I recommend you take the lead in beginning this conversation. Convey to your bride that the marriage matters and that you want to cultivate the friendship and romance. Make a mutual agreement to begin thinking and acting toward investment in the relationship.
Talk about the things you enjoyed in early romance
The longer you have been together the more difficult it can be to jar the memory. You may have to go back and look at photo albums to remember. If you are a young couple it is a little easier to scan through your Instagram or Facebook postings.
What did you enjoy in early romance? I suggest right now you pause a minute and think. Later, it can be part of a conversation you have with your spouse/partner.
You may not be able to do all the things you did in early romance, but you can do some. Once you do, it may generate loving feelings again. You won’t know unless you try.
Work out your resentment
Couples who do not cultivate romance and friendship will likely build resentment toward each other. Resentment also forms a barrier in the relationship. Resentful couples avoid getting close to each other.
Couples who resolve resentments are more likely to recover friendship and early romance.
If you have resentment in your relationship I recommend you read my blog “Resentment: Causes, Consequences, & Cures”.
Create a repeating event
We are driven by our calendars. Couples share their calendars to remain apprised of the events of family and work. How often does a date night appear on your calendar?
Things that matter appear in the calendar.
Creating a repeating event establishes a rhythm for date night. When events have a rhythm they are interwoven in the fabric of family life. You may not be able to do weekly date nights as we do, but find something that works and enter it as a repeating event.
Protect your repeating event from intruders. I get requests all the time for various events. If it falls on DNWMB the answer usually is “no thank you”. If we decide to go, we will move DNWMB to another day that week. This gives you an idea how important it is to us.
Make the date about us
In the course of the week, you wear many hats: spouse, parent, worker, professional, business owner, church/community volunteer, etc… On a date night, wear one hat. Date hat.
As I stated, my wife and I give minimal time to unpack work and/or family stuff–about 15-30 minutes max. The rest of the time it is about us. We have plenty to talk about because we have cultivated an interest in many things.
If you are stuck not knowing what to talk about, here is a great app to use. It is called LOVE MAP by researcher John Gottman. It has 87 questions to help you learn about your partner. It can be a great tool to use for a date night activity. I use it in my personal and professional life. I give it 5 stars!
To learn more about how to make date nights more “about us” I recommend you read or reread two of my recent blogs
Now It’s Your Turn
I have the privilege of working with couples to preserve and/or restore early romance. It is a beautiful thing to behold. That being said, it takes work and commitment of both partners.
If you want to preserve or restore early romance, where do you plan to begin? Maybe you have developed an active early romance rhythm. Do you have some suggestions you can share? Feel free to add your comments below.
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