Monday, January 27, 2014

Frankly My Dear, Romance Me These Five Ways

Valentine’s Day is coming, and love is in the air. As a romance writer, I’m always thinking about the ways in which men and women fall in love, and about the things they do to keep that love alive. In the pages of a romance novel, there are heightened circumstances, bigger-than-life couples, fiery emotions, huge issues to overcome, and battles to be won. But in everyday life, couples fall into ruts. The biggest battle might be fighting through rush-hour traffic to get home in time for dinner before collapsing in front of the TV. Those heightened circumstances might involve arguing over who left the lid off the toothpaste, whose turn it is to pick junior up from soccer practice, or which mother-in-law is going to move into the spare bedroom.
Be still my beating heart, right?

But those are real, everyday problems, and they genuinely impact romantic relationships. Without serious effort, those precious relationships can erode under the constant deluge of daily issues, until nothing of the love and romance survives. So how do real couples with real, average lives keep the romance fresh?
The answer to that question is going to be different for every couple, of course, and a woman would probably answer differently than her man. But romancing your lover doesn't have to cost a dime, or even take up a lot of time. It's more about a pattern of behavior and a way of thinking about the relationship and that all-important other person. I think there are a few core answers we all have in common, simple ways to show our lovers we care and value our relationships.
With that in mind, here are five easy, basic ways to romance each other and keep that spark glowing:
  1. Share my passions. That doesn’t mean you have to attend ballet class with me, start your own scrapbook, or spend all sorts of money to get involved in them with me. Just be supportive of the things I love, and listen when I yammer on about them. Praise my finished projects. Help if I ask. I’ll do the same for you. As was said in the movie Phenomenon, starring John Travolta, (paraphrasing): “Buy her chairs.” His love interest in that movie made wooden chairs that were not particularly comfortable, but he bought them up anyway (on the advice of a friend, the speaker of the quote), just to show his support for her and her craft.
  2. Listen. We can all tell when we’re really being listened to versus when the other person is off engaging in their own thoughts inside their heads. Make an effort to really listen and hear what I’m saying. Remember there’s a difference between listening and watching me speak while planning what you’re going to say when I stop. DO NOT INTERRUPT!! Just listen. Don’t worry about coming up with a solution or fixing any problems I might be having. When I know you’re listening, it lets me know I am important to you.
  3. Hold my hand. Holding hands makes me feel connected on more than a physical level. I feel protected, comforted, valued. Holding hands, especially in public, proclaims us as a couple in the eyes of the rest of the world, and there is real power in that. It says, “I chose this person, and I continue to choose this person.” Never stop holding hands!
  4. Talk about me kindly to others. One of the most destructive habits couples engage in is tearing down their partners to their friends, coworkers, relatives, even strangers in the grocery store or, God forbid, the whole world on Facebook. For the love of all that’s holy, DO NOT post anything less than loving comments about your lover on social media! Identify one discreet, trustworthy friend to vent to when you’re upset, and make sure that friend understands that’s all it is—venting. They are not to repeat it to anyone at any time, or let it color their opinion of your guy or girl. Then to absolutely everyone else, paint your partner as a genuine prince or princess. Glow. Gush. Be revoltingly, overwhelmingly romantic, and positive, and complimentary. You chose that person, after all. It reflects well on your good taste to let the world know how awesome your lover is and how happy you are with that person. I guarantee it will not only change the way you look at your partner over time, but your partner will notice the difference, too, even if no one says anything to him or her directly. That sort of positive energy radiates like the sun. Let it shine.
  5. Make time just for me. There’s no better way to make someone feel important and valued than to know you are setting aside time just for them. Whether it’s a date night out or at home, stopping for coffee together while grocery shopping, coming home early from work once in a while just because, or helping with a chore that usually falls to the other person, that sort of time and attention is a precious gift to give.

Those are my five favorite—and easy—tips for romancing the love of your life. What are yours? Tell me in the comments!

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