This month we have been looking at various ways of nurturing ourselves and others. Recently, I began thinking about the importance of nurturing my relationship with my wife. It is so easy for life to take over and displace the deeper purpose of the relationships. There is always something to do around the house. There is always something that needs to be managed, bills to pay, chores to be done, etc. All of that is important. At the same time, it is important that we nurture the loving nature of the relationship we have with our spouse to keep it alive and growing. How do we keep the romance alive?
Romance is more than just dinner by candle light, soft music and flowers. It is about the attention and feeling we create in the relationship and bring to each other. It is about what we do to affirm our love and gratitude for the person who has come to share our life with us. Romance is about the intentional time we take away from all the things we have to do in life, to just spend quality time with the one we love. It is a time where we get to focus on each other without all the interruptions of daily life, the computer beeping, the phone ringing, etc. It is that date night when you sneak out of the house, even when you live there by yourselves just so you do not get sucked into the daily stuff. Romance is not so much about what you do, but where your mind and focus are at. Nurturing your relationship keeps the flame burning and prevents the fire from going out.
Romance changes over time. I remember seeing this couple who must have been in their 70’s or 80’s walking through the park one day. They were holding hands and walking slowly. Every once in a while, they would stop and look at each other and you could feel their love for each other feet away. Nurturing the connection keeps us from slipping into the role of roommate or friend. Infusing romance into one’s relationship requires intentional and commitment on the part of both parties. When we stop infusing romance into our relationships, it is not that we fall out of love with the person, we just allow that part of our relationship to atrophy. It is like a muscle that never gets used, it becomes weaker and ultimately atrophies over time. It is not that it is not still there, it is just not used. When we are intentional about nurturing the romance in our relationship, it continues to flicker.
One of the most romantic moments I remember with my parents was when my mom was in a nursing facility after falling down a flight of stairs and breaking all the bones in her wrist. It was a challenging time as she also had dementia. My father would go and spend all day with her every day at the facility. When her birthday came, we all traveled there and had a surprise party for her. One of her gifts was a pink feather boa and a tiara, something she had fallen in love with in a children’s store she had passed with us one day. She put on her boa and tiara and began dancing seductively for my father. He swept her up in his arms, kissed her, and danced with her as I imagine they did at their wedding. Even in the midst of a challenging situation, he found a way to share a romantic moment with the woman he loved until the day she died.
Nurturing romance in our relationships needs to come from the heart. It should not come from a space of obligation, but a space of wanting to create moments to honor and surprise the ones we loved. So this week, take a moment to do something to honor and nurture the romance in your relationship if you are in one. If you are not, then take yourself out on a date and romance yourself.