Friday, April 13, 2012
Being married for over forty-one years takes a lot of work and thought. It means giving everything you have to keep that spark alive. And if you are successful, the relationship will remain strong, even after the physical expression is, shall we say, not the most important part.
I have learned a few things about keeping that spark growing. It may not be the fiery passion of newlywed love, but it is much stronger.
I’d like to share some practical ideas for those of you who would like to express your love for your life partner.
Honesty and respect are two of the most important aspects of a happy marriage. If you can’t trust your partner, it erodes the feelings of love away. If a mistake is made by one, confessing and taking responsibility for that mistake is vitally important. From that time on, you will have to re-earn that trust. That takes time.
Remember anniversaries and important dates. Especially wedding anniversaries, the date you met, and other significant relationship milestones. If you have trouble remembering these dates, put them into your smart phone, or have someone do it for you.
Give your love the valuable gift of your time and attention. It may become comfortable to spend your evenings watching television or playing computer games, reading or whatever individual hobbies you may have, but remember to reserve some special one on one time just between the two of you, to listen to each other, and to talk about something other than the jobs, the household, or the kids.
Sometimes this means doing something that you really are not that crazy about. If she likes chick flicks now and then, take her to one, even though that military action movie you’ve been dying to see is also playing. Then, the next time you go to the movies, she may be more willing to sit through your violent movies, even though she may spend most of it with her hands covering her eyes.
When the two of you shop together, treat her to something she would love to have but is too practical to purchase. You’ll know what that is by watching her face as she shops. If you buy clothing, though, be sure to know her sizes first. If you buy it too small, she will be embarrassed when she can’t get into it. If you buy it too big, she might feel that you think she is fat.
If you buy her flowers and candy for Valentines Day or an anniversary, it’s a nice touch to send it to her work place. It will make her female co-workers jealous and the romance of it will increase doublefold.
Plan your little surprises for each other throughout the year, not just on holidays and anniversaries. It’s especially romantic to get flowers “Just Because.”
Bake his favorite cake or fix his favorite meal when you know he’s having a hard day. He’ll appreciate the gesture.
For men: the most often requested gifts for women include jewelry, perfume, lingerie, clothing, and handbags. Also nice is a night out on the town with dinner, perhaps dancing, and romance.
For women: the gifts that men request the most: clothing, gift certificates, stereo equipment, smart phones, sports equipment, tickets, tools.
Men, remember that not all romantic evenings have to end in sexual activity. Snuggling and cuddling are always enjoyed. Don’t forget the aftershave and mouthwash. Very important.
Try something new and different occasionally, like spending the weekend in a hotel with a Jacuzzi or spa. Reserve the honeymoon suite, and share a bottle of champagne and flowers.
Women, make the first move. Men really enjoy the feeling of being wanted and needed, just like you do. They do like being pursued, even if they say they don’t.
Give him a massage. There is nothing more sensual than a nice loving massage using scented massage oils.
Men: ask her to marry you again. Our church has begun offering renewal vows at various times of the year. We have done it a couple of times and it always brings tears and a rush of new love for each other.
These are just a few of the ways that we have kept our marriage a happy one for forty-one years and counting. There are so many more things that you can do. The main thing to remember is to keep your eyes and ears open to new ideas about what makes your partner happy.
It’s not about giving her the most expensive or the most unusual gifts, but about thinking about what she needs and wants. She may not always come out and tell you these needs. You must learn sensitivity to her wants.
This goes as well for men. They may need reassurance that you respect and love them and want them. They have fragile egos that need constant reassurance that they are “doing the right things.”
Keeping love alive can be a daunting challenge. But it is also a fun and rewarding challenge. Are you up for it?