Sunday, February 03, 2008

Be my Valentine...Husbands and Romance...Part I

Because we women are generally love things like scented candles and pink roses, we tend to think of women as being the more romantic sex. It's my observation as an old married woman, a married woman who is just-past-the-first-flush-of-youth, that men can be as romantic in heart as women, if not more so.

If the romance in a marriage suffers, a husband may feel it even more keenly than his wife. This is particularly true if the wife treats her husband with indifference, because she allows something else to take precedence over her marriage.

If men are so romantic, you ask, then why do so many women complain that their husbands are oafs in that department? Well, one problem is that a man and a woman view romance through different eyes. The things that sweep a woman off her feet may not be the same things that make her man's heart beat faster. A husband's attempts to express romance according to his own notions may fall flat with his wife, and vice versa.

Another disconnect is that men -- particularly young men -- are visually oriented and often have a higher physical drive than women do. Men can endure a lot of emotional pain if their physical needs are being met. Some wives wrongly deduce from this that sex is all their husbands care about. They do not understand the emptiness a man feels if his wife engages in sex out of duty, without enveloping her husband in respect and warm affection.

Still another difficulty is that both a man and a woman can get caught up in this life -- even with good things -- and take each other for granted. Men, especially, romance women in order to win their hearts and their hands in marriage. Once the honeymoon has ended, however, they may so count on the faithfulness of their wives that they turn their energies to other adventures. They may be especially driven to build a career.

In the mind of a man, it's a high compliment to a wife if he can rely on her faithful support as he conquers the adventures of life. Since women think a little differently than men do, she may have no clue how much he values her. She may long for him to express his feelings as he did when they were courting.

If a man gets his priorities out of order, he may become businesslike in manner and fail to treat his wife with tenderness. Since women equate tenderness with romance, the wife naturally will feel that something is lacking in his love for her. The husband, on the other hand, may not realize he is being insensitive, and, when it finally registers with him that he has hurt her feelings, he may heartily regret it.

Even if a husband is somewhat oblivious to his wife's needs, the wife should remember this: We are far more likely to bring out our husband's romantic side through gentle communication than through demanding that he meet our needs.

Perhaps this is one reason why the Bible is full of admonitions for men to treat their wives with tenderness and consideration and for wives to treat their husbands with respect. Setting an atmosphere in which both spouses are thoughtful and courteous to each other allows romance to flourish.

Finally, some wives (and husbands, too) enter marriage with unrealistic expectations. Women may expect that every day will be just like it was when they were engaged, before responsibilities came along. Or, they may want their husbands to always look and act like the heroes in romance novels or romantic movies. Some women may be disappointed to find that romance takes communication, prayer, and attention.

Marriage is a romantic relationship, but it is also a practical one, as well. We all know that it's important to keep the flame of romance burning for a lifetime. Yet, a husband and wife may wonder just how to do that when the wife's current perfume is Eau de Baby-Spit-Up and the husband needs to fix that leaking faucet and both are staring at a stack of unexpected medical bills.

The good news is that romance can not only last for a last time, it can become richer and deeper as the years go by. I say this after 27 years of marriage to a wonderful man.

One sweet memory from my teenage years is the time we dropped by the farm belonging to an older relative of father's and her husband. My father's relative was in the house, but her husband was somewhere out and about on the land. She welcomed us graciously. Shortly afterwards, the old man came in, carrying a bunch of lovely wildflowers. He had been so taken with the lovely day that he had set out to surprise his beloved with a bouquet of summer blossoms. This couple was neither young nor beautiful, but they were an example of romance.

It's often in older couples -- at least in the couples who invested their youth in the right things -- that you observe the loveliest expressions of tenderness. Planting seeds of love in the early and middle years of your marriage will yield a rich relationship in the latter years of life. Plus, it sets a great example for your children.

"Grow old along with me; the best is yet to be", as the poet says.



Buffy said...

Yes, I love old couples who are devoted to each other!

Elizabeth said...

I do too!