Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Husbands and Romance...
It's a safe guess that most of us who blog about home and family have a romantic side to our nature. I've seen lots of blog entries around with the themes of feminity, flowers, tea, pink, chocolate, special holidays, candles, aprons, baskets, and other items that make the world a more charming place for women.
I include myself in that category, as well. After all, my blog is named, "The Merry Rose: Blooming as Keeper of my Home," and it has the pinkest background I could find.
Our husbands are no less romantic than we women are. Oh, some may never describe themselves as being romantic. But, we must not be fooled. Even the brawniest man's man has a tender side.
The quandry is that men do not always find romance in the same things that we women do. Oh, they may appreciate it when we set a beautiful table, complete with rose-patterned china and silver candelabras with glowing tapers. And, they may enjoy seeing us arrange flowers in a vase. They may see such touches as charming evidence of a wife's mysteriously feminine side. However, they may not interpret these things as being romantic. Candlelight, roses, and walls painted pink may not move our husbands to thoughts of love in the same way that these things move us.
Of course, every man is unique, as is every woman. The key in romancing a husband is to find out what makes him feel romantic. A husband will feel extra loved if you make gestures that spell romance in his language. Understanding what moves our own husbands' hearts requires that we employ some careful observation and ask some thoughtful, but not overwhelming questions. We should make this should be a lifelong study, as our husbands, like us, will change over a liftetime.
Here are some generalities about the romantic side of a man's nature that will help us get started in discerning what a husband finds to be romantic. They are based on observations about the "average" man. Pick some ideas and see how your own husband responds.
1) The foundation of appealing to a man's romantic side is to keep some mystery and a sense of childlike happiness in the relationship. Most men greatly value mystery, adventure, fun, and challenge. They grow up thinking of girls as being somewhat mysterious and baffling, and they enjoy this mystery because it brings out their masculine nature in response.
Of course, men and women are both human, and they have many of the same needs and desires. We should not emphasize the differences between men and women to the point that we forget our similarities. After all, both men and women are made in the image of God.
However, its foolish to deny that there is such a thing as being male and such a thing as being female, and that, at least in this earthly life, there are differences between the two. How a husband and a wife combine their differenent points of view is part of what makes the one-flesh relationship so fascinating. As the French say, "Vive le difference."
In the first one to five years, the natural difference between the sexes naturally provides a sense of mystery for both man and wife to explore. But, as more years go by, we have to work to keep this mystery alive admist the daily details of living together.
I'm not talking about playing emotional games with our husbands or hiding secrets from them. As is the case with the worthy woman, our husbands need to know, above all things, that we are dependable and trustworthy. Men are hoping that their wives will be their soul-mates and best friends, just as we desire our husbands to be our close companions, as well. In order for this companionship to happen, we must be vulnerable and transparent with each other. In opening up our hearts to our husbands, we arouse their tender feelings, and they feel more comfortable sharing their intimate thoughts with us.
However, being trustworthy and open as wives doesn't mean that we have to settle in a rut or become stale and boring. There are lots of ways to keep the freshness and mystery in our marriage. We can learn new things. We can improve our characters. We can update our appearance from time to time. We can cultivate our childlike sense of gratefulness and delight, even during hard times. We can be spontaneous enough to respond happily when our husband suggests a surprise outing.
While we should be honest with our husbands if we aren't feeling well, we can avoid loading them down with too much information about every little ache and pain we might face. We can also keep our grooming private; our husbands are not blessed when they see us pluck stay hairs or clip our toenails.
2) The next step is to maintain variety and freshness in your lingerie wardrobe. Remember, men are visually oriented. They find it romantic when their wives dress alluringly for their eyes only. Wear some things that highlight your physical charms. Select items that appeal to your husband's tastes. Ask him what he would like to see you wear in the privacy of your bedroom. If he gives you lingerie as a present, wear it! Don't feel self-concious if you have a less than perfect figure. A loving husband isn't looking at his wife's flaws. Of course, if you are extremely overweight, a loving thing you can do for yourself and for your husband is to work on your health and your weight. But, don't wait until you've achieved a healthy weight to attire yourself in something appealing.
To complete your lingerie wardrobe, you will need some very revealing things and some things that provide more coverage. Even when you are wearing something that does provide more coverage, make sure it is silky or soft, glamorous, and feminine. Don't wear the same thing all of the time; remember, men generally enjoy variety. A side benefit of treating ourselves to some nice lingerie is that we will feel better about ourselves. A lovely robe does more for our spirits than slumping around in a pair of paint-splattered sweat pants.
3) Showing our husbands respect brings out their romantic side. Our husbands are also moved to tenderness when we sincerely appreciate their masculinity. Our husbands feel a great responsiblity for being husbands and fathers. They often wonder if they are doing a good job. We can lift them up by letting them know that we respect them and that we also find their masculine qualities attracitve. Even if you work as hard as your husband does, let him know you appreciate his work. Point out ways that he is a good husband and father. Compliment his masculine features, such as strong hands or broad shoulders or a grip strong enough to open a pickle jar. If you have a hard time complimenting your husband in these areas, check your attitudes to make sure that you are neither bitter nor critical. Remember, there is something to admire about every husband. If you point out a man's positive, masculine attributes, he will feel inspired. If your husband thinks he is a hero to you, he will strive to be more noble in character. And, the romantic side of his nature will be aroused.
4) Learn to celebrate your physical relationship with your husband. Find ways to make things fun. Create a different ambiance once in a while. Be spontaneous. Take a bath together. Have someone watch the children while you go away for a romantic weekend. Or, have someone watch the children while you enjoy a night alone at home. Initiate with him once in a while. Remind him of special times that you've both enjoyed in the past. The idea is that if you've fallen into a comfortable routine, it's good to break out of the rut once in a while. Men find it romantic when their wives take a happy, playful approach to the physical relationship.
While children are in the home, this kind of happy, spontaneous physical relationship can be hard to achieve. This may seem like a contradiction in terms, but the solution is to plan so that you can allow for some spontenaiety and fun in your physical relationship. Even once the children have left home, give some thought to your physicla life so that the two of you do not settle into a perfunctory routine.
5) Once in a while, surprise your husband with an out-of-the-usual date. Whisk him away to a picnic. Or, come up with two tickets to a ballgame. You don't have to spend a lot of money. The idea is simply to do something that the two of you don't usually do. You won't be able to have such an out-of-ordinary date every week, but do make sure that you set aside some time each week for just the two of you. And, make sure that you don't let six months pass without giving your husband a special date to remember.
6) The way to a man's heart really can be through his stomach. Some men find it romantic if their wives cook them a leisurely, comforting meal. They feel loved if their wives put a lot of love into meeting their physical need for food. Sometimes, we do have to slap a quick meal on the table so that we can get out the door to church or a child's activity. But, this should not happen every evening. Help your husband slow down from a hectic day by serving a meal at a slow pace. Have an hors-d-ouvre waiting for him when he walks in the door. Fix him a glass of iced tea or whatever he likes to drink and let him sit down with it for a few minutes. Have something in the stove or oven that fills the kitchen with a savory smell. Serve the meal in courses. If you do this for your husband, your children will benefit from learning how to slow down and enjoy a meal, as well. Once in a while, though, cook a leisurely meal for just the two of you.
7) Keep your everyday appearance fresh, neat, and as up-to-date as you can without sacrificing standards of modesty. A mature husband doesn't expect his wife to have a perfect face and figure, but he does find it romantic if she puts some care into how she dresses around him. (Don't we prefer for our husbands to be neatly attired and reasonably groomed, as well?)
Men feel romantic when their wives dress as if she enjoys being a woman. A godly husband will want his wife to dress modestly in public. But, he also wants her to look feminine. Make use of pretty colors, soft materials, and feminine lines when building your wardrobe. Avoid anyting that smacks of being too mannish, even if its in style.
On the other hand, most of us who are romantic in nature are drawn to old-fashioned, ultra-romantic styles. We adore lace, cameos, long skirts, plaid, pink, bows, ruffles, and the like. If we're not careful, we can overdo this.
There are many men who enjoy it when their wives dress to the hilt in ultra-feminine clothing. But, don't assume this is true for your husband; ask him. Some men associate an old-fashioned look from head to toe with being dowdy, stiff, or too formal. The very outfit that makes us feel like Marianne from Sense and Sensiblity can make our husbands think we look like Aunt Bea. This is especially true if we are somewhere in our middle years. For some reason, girlish fashions suit young women and elderly women, but often don't work for the woman "of a certain age".
If your husband isn't enraptured by a head-to-toe, old-fashioned look, do not despair. Keep some simple, well-cut, up-to-date, flattering basics in your closet. Pair these basics with one of your ultra-feminine touches, such as a lace shell or a cameo broach. In this way you can indulge your fondness for an old-fasihioned look without overwhelming the eye of your husband.
Remember, stores and pattern companies always offer something up-to-date to suit the woman with a romantic sensiblity. It's not necessary to cling to the styles of the last decade in order to dress in a manner that is both feminine and modest.
All women benefit from doing these four things twice a year: look through a pattern book, visit a dress shop, browse through a shoe store, and pick up a fashion magazine. Study what colors are in this year. Look how jackets and skirts are cut. Check out what heels and toes are in vogue for shoes this year.
Then, buy or make one or two inexpensive items that reflect this year's trends. Pair these with classic pieces that are cut in a feminine way. If you like, you can alter some of your older pieces to look more up-to-date. For example, changing the collar on a jacket or taking a dart in a dress or putting new buttons on a coat can make the garment look fresher. If you put some thought into staying somewhat up-to-date without being a slave to fashion trends, you will always look fresh and feminine to your husband. This will appeal to his romantic side.
8) Don't be jealous if your husband takes an occasional fishing trip with his buddies or goes to a sporting event with his friends. Just as women find support in talking to other women, men need some time with their guy friends, as well. A wife who understands this makes a man feel more masculine. This brings out his romantic feelings for her. A wife who suggests that her husband have the guys over to watch a sports game and cooks some snacks for them gets extra points!
9) Don't worry; be happy! Life in a fallen world is hard. Husbands and wives go through many challenges on the way to heaven. As wives, we need to be open about our pain. And, we need to weep with our husbands, when appropriate. But, we also need to laugh as well!
A woman who knows how to be open about her problems, but also knows how to maintain a positive, faithful outlook is a joy to be around. Such a woman retains an air of youthfulness even into very old age. The romantic side of a man's nature is aroused when his wife maintains a basic attitude of joy and peace.
10) Here's a suggestion that requires a fine balance. Let your husband know that you think about him during the day, when he is at work. Here are some ideas that your husband might find romantic: Send him an encouraging or romantic e-card (provided he can receive personal email at work); frame a photograph of you and one of the whole family for his office; tuck a loving or sexy note into his lunch or his briefcase (make sure it won't fall out in front of other poeple in his office); ask him from time to time if there is anything you want him to pray about concerning his work; listen to him talk about his work day when he comes home from work; and, once in a while, whisper in his ear as he is leaving for work that he has something exciting to look forward to that night. Don't overdo it here, though. A woman who interrupts her husband too often at work can end up adding to his stress level.
11) Do romantic things for your husband as a way of making him feel loved, rather than with the thought of making him love you more. When we are basically secure in life, we find it easier to be loving, warm, womanly, and romantic. When we are insecure, we can put too much burden on our husbands to meet our emotional needs. When this happens, our husbands can feel very burdened, for they think it is their fault if we are not at peace. Thus, a husband finds it more romantic if his wife does things for him because she loves him, rather than because she wants to earn his love. If you do try too hard to earn your husband's love, you will give up if you don't see an immediate reward.
Now, its likely that as you do treat your husband with love -- as you do little romantic things for him -- he will love and appreciate you more and more. We all respond to love. But, let a deeper love on your husband's part be the side effect of your efforts and not your motivation. Remember, Jesus said it is better to give than to receive. True love gives without thought of reward.