Jim Burns is President of HomeWord and has written books for parents, youth workers, and students. Jim and his wife, Cathy, and their daughters Christy, Rebecca, and Heidi, live in Southern California. Visit HomeWord.
Rekindle the Romance In Your Marriage
By Jim Burns
Can I be perfectly honest with you? Romance doesn’t come naturally to me. Physical intimacy absolutely does. But romance ... that’s another story. I didn’t have good role models growing up and I just don’t think about it as much as the woman I am happily married to for the last 32 years does.
Last Valentine’s Day, I tried to change all that. Okay, it was a last-minute thought, but I decided to buy Cathy roses on my way home from work on the big day. I walked into the busiest flower shop in the world with all the other last-minute shoppers (all guys) who were looking a bit lost. I knew what I wanted and confidently walked right up to the counter and announced, “I would like a dozen long stemmed red roses.”
I was staring at a beautiful bouquet of short stemmed roses for $38.00. The woman smiled and went to the back room, bringing back the dozen long stemmed roses for $84.00. Not only does romance not come naturally to me, but neither does paying $84.00 for such a perishable item as roses! I looked over at the cheaper roses and didn’t have the courage to change my order.
I brought home the most expensive roses I had ever seen to my wife. She was ecstatic. Even Cathy’s friend, who was at our home at the time, was impressed. Cathy went searching for a vase while I basked in the accolades from her friend at what a romantic husband I was. Life was good.
Cathy came back to the kitchen with a small vase and scissors in order to cut the long stemmed roses to make them short enough to fit the vase. After my initial shock, I quickly offered to go buy a bigger vase but she insisted that the roses were lovely and all she had to do was cut them to make them fit the vase she had – which she proceeded to do. I watched helplessly as my $84.00 roses had just become $38.00 roses.
Frankly, it wasn’t about the size of the flowers, it’s the thought that counts. My flower financial fiasco told Cathy I was thinking about her. The flowers and a wonderful candlelit dinner created by yours truly did the trick.
This is an oversimplification, but many men just don’t put in the time to be intentional about romance. For whatever reason, we don’t give romance the attention it deserves. Too many people think the words “intentional” and “romance” shouldn’t be in the same sentence. I disagree. For those of us who don’t usually act like we are fresh off the set of an Italian or French romance movie, we need to learn to be intentional about bringing romance to our relationship. Frankly, if you are too tired or too distracted to work on romance in your marriage then something is very wrong.
In your relationship, putting time and attention toward romance honors your spouse. Paul’s advice to the Romans works well: “Be devoted to one another…Honor one another above yourselves (Romans 12:10).” I want to share with you my practical strategy I call “The Passion Plan.” This plan is about being intentional with romance in your relationship.
Before I share it with you, let me ask you this question: Are the choices you are making today about your romance and intimacy with your spouse going to be harmful or helpful to your relationship in the years to come? If you aren’t winning in the romance department, you can improve very simply as you become more proactive in your romantic relationship. The Passion Plan is not about cute techniques or simple formulas that will magically turn your marriage around; however, through my book, Creating An Intimate Marriage, I have heard of hundreds of people who are becoming more intentional about romance and intimacy and it quickly makes a difference.
The Passion Plan
You will need to reserve at least:
15 seconds a day
15 minutes 5 days a week
1.5 hours a week
And another 1.5 hours a week
Here’s The Passion Plan explained:
1. Kiss passionately for at least 15 seconds every day.
Daily passionate kissing keeps the fire burning. Kissing is intimate and romantic. A prostitute once said, “I will have sex with my clients but not kiss them. Kissing is far too intimate.” Passionate kissing for even fifteen seconds a day releases feelings about each other that say, “I love you. I want to be with you. You are special to me.” This is not about sex, it’s about romance. One last thought: There is no rule that you have to keep it at fifteen seconds. Go ahead and splurge ... go for longer!
2. Take 15 minutes at least 5 days a week to connect and talk.
Frankly, if there is not emotional intimacy or connection, there will be little interest in healthy romance. Find time to connect. Find time to communicate on a deeper level. We have friends who are in pastoral ministry who have a set standing appointment just to sit on the couch, hold hands, and talk about their lives with each other. The kids can take a 15-minute break, their church doesn’t need them for those 15 minutes and the investment of time talking and connecting speaks volumes to the pastor’s spouse. Cathy and I like to take our dog for a walk. This is our time to share our hearts with each other. Too many times, I’ve seen this as physical exercise or taking care of the dog and then I realize this time together connecting was very important for Cathy ... and me.
3. Date and court your spouse for at least 1.5 hours a week.
A non-negotiable, regularly scheduled date with your spouse speaks volumes. This is a time to not talk about insurance, the bills, or your work problems, but rather focus on each other. The question I have to ask myself as I prepare to go out with Cathy is, “Am I only giving Cathy my emotional scraps?” Dates don’t have to be fancy or expensive. I find that Cathy can put up with a fairly crazy schedule if she knows she has my full attention on a weekly date. If you are too busy to date, you are too busy with lesser priorities.
4. Schedule into your life 1.5 hours a week for sexual intimacy.
If you are like most people, you may stumble on the word schedule. Spontaneity is wonderful when it comes to romance, and let’s hope for many breathtaking spontaneous moments. But all marriage authorities do agree that a scheduled regular time for sexual intimacy can bring a spark back to the relationship quite quickly. Believe me, if you do this, you will get past the word “schedule” very quickly. One pastoral couple I know from Tennessee schedules sexual intimacy every Wednesday. He has to preach on Wednesday nights and his wife told me he is never long-winded anymore. Even during the day, they may flirt with each other with an email that simply reads, “It’s Wednesday.”
If romance doesn’t come easy for you, just remember, it’s the thought that counts, and trust me, it’s worth every effort and every moment you invest in strengthening your marriage! Not only does your spouse benefit, but your entire family as well. I believe that loving your spouse is one of the best things you can do for your children.
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Adapted from the book Creating an Intimate Marriage by Jim Burns, Ph.D. Printed by permission of HomeWord. For additional information on HomeWord, visit www.homeword.com or call 800-397-9725.
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