This past weekend, Edric and I were at a couple’s retreat. Edric was assigned to speak about the topic, “Romancing Your Spouse.” He shared about some of the crazy things he has done for me like this: Real Men Surprise Their Dates .
But his main point was that romance is NOT about the grand or extraordinary things we do for our spouse. That may be part of it, but it is so much more about the unconditional love we give daily.
Out of curiosity, we asked our children how they define romance between two people. This was their adorable list of romantic things that couples do:
You love each other
You love God
You read your bible together
You eat together
You have personal talks with each other You walk together
You listen to each other’s ideas even if you don’t always like each other’s ideas
You tell the truth to each other
You never shout at each other
You always forgive each other
You serve each other
You take care of each other
You have fun with each other
You play games with each other
You exercise together
You kiss and hug
You go out on dates
You talk to each other nicely
You respect each other
You give us an example of love so we can also love each other
Their perspective was very simple and pure, but it sounded a lot like 1 Corinthians 13… Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. (1 Corinthians 13:1-8 NASB)
During his talk Edric shared this list and he also shared how husbands can “romance” their wives. But I particularly liked what he said the wives can do. “Wives can unconditionally love their husbands by being appreciative.”
It is powerfully motivating to hear a wife say, “I really believe in you, hon. I really appreciate how hard you work and the effort you put into providing for our needs. I want you to know that you are such an amazing man and I am so blessed to be your wife.” Okay, so if that isn’t exactly accurate for your husband, then tweak it a little.
The point is, be an encouraging and positive wife. And you will inspire your husband to romance you daily!
As women, we often expect our husbands do all the “work” when it comes to romance. We want them to take us out, buy us gifts, remember occasions, and make Romeo and Juliet-like professions of love. But maybe they don’t do this anymore because they are not inspired to. Maybe our negativity and expectations de-motivate them.
I used to be hurt when Edric stopped opening the door for me. This was early on in our marriage. One day, I said, “Things have changed, huh?” I started to go on an historical account of how he used to do this and do that when we were dating. It wasn’t a good move. Instead of “convicting” him to change, he was annoyed.
So I decided I was going to be a more positive wife…to compliment and appreciate even the small stuff. One incident I particularly remember was when we were in Baguio years ago, before we ever had kids. We rode in one of those scary old boats in Burnham park. Edric had to row us across the lake and we were with some friends. I was so impressed with how he adeptly maneuvered the rickety blue boat we were in, like a sexy gondolier (pinoy-style), and I said, “Hon, you are so strong!” Of course, his friends busted out in hilarious laughter. But I meant it and Edric loved it! It became a standing joke among us friends that carried on for years. Yet, I learned a very important principle that day which has affected the way I relate to Edric. I affirm him even for the little things. And he has told me many times that it matters.
It matters because it makes him feel like I really trust him and his capacity. It matters because he feels energized and empowered. It matters because, next to the Lord, my opinion of him is the most important. I can either tear him down or encourage him to achieve and pursue his dreams, his passions, his God-given calling.
One of the best examples of this kind of wifely approach to romancing a husband has been my mom. Butterflies, bubbles, and beautiful roses come out of her mouth when she speaks. Obviously, I am exaggerating. But she truly is a positive person.
I didn’t inherit this genetic trait because this is a spirit-filled thing, not hereditary. (So I have to practice being spirit-filled to be consistently positive. Otherwise, the Jezebel horns come out.) My mom modeled being affirming towards my dad ever since I was a wee-little-Joy. My dad would often say, “Your mom is always smiling and positive.” I saw how it affected the dynamics of their relationship. Even though my dad wasn’t the kind of guy that does crazy things for love, he certainly treasured and cherished my mom. He still does.
This morning I had breakfast with some dear friends and we discussed what it means to be appreciative of our husbands. Someone said, “When I do that, my husband tends to slack off and get complacent.” I love this friend very much but I didn’t agree with her perspective. First of all, it is not our duty to reign in our husbands and keep them on some sort of leash so they “behave” the way we want them to. Secondly, their response is not our problem. It is God’s problem. He will deal with them. We are accountable to be life givers to our husbands. Proverbs tells us, “She (a wife) does him (her husband) good and not evil all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:12 NASB) If a husband does get complacent, the real issue is that he has a heart problem and that is something that God will have to fix.
As wives, we need to remember that we do things “as unto the Lord.” Focusing on our husbands tends to make our obedience to biblical principles conditional. Like, I will be a good wife if my husband does his part. That is not the relational economy the Bible is talking about. It’s not, I give my 50% and you give your 50% so we can have a 100% marriage. It is give your 100% regardless and hope in God’s promises to bless you and your marriage.
Well, the couples retreat was certainly timely for Edric and me. We have probably been to almost 10 of these over the years, but we still learn so much and we get to review principles we have been neglecting. I also think one of the most encouraging things about attending a retreat with others who have been married for a varying number of years is this: Marriage goes through different seasons as the years go by, but it is possible to stay in the “honeymoon stage” or return to it when a husband and wife are committed to keep God at the center of their marriage, and apply His principles for loving one another.
The last evening of the retreat, my dad led the renewal of vows for the couples that were at the banquet. After we all listened to Mark Schultz’s song, “Time of My Life,” he turned to my mom who was at the table nearest the stage. And he said, “Deonna, you are the only girl I will ever love.” My gushing mom had tears in her eyes.
I have watched my mom and dad’s marriage closely. And I have seen the not so perfect aspects, but these are very few and rare. What I do know is they have been married 38 sweet years and they still think they are in their honeymoon stage. It certainly makes me look forward to growing old with Edric. I hope we can someday say it’s been a 38-year long honeymoon and counting…