Marriage Advice: Ten Ways to Add Romance to Your Marriage

Every marriage needs a healthy dose of on-going romance to add spice, delight, and fun to the relationship. It's not enough to just start out with a sizzling romance. You have to find a way to keep the romance alive as the months and years accumulate.

One of the marital challenges many couples face is how to live together without losing that special romantic spark. It's all-too-easy to lose the role of lover along the way. When this happens, spouses often start relating to each other as they would to a friend or a sibling. Parents can begin to feel they are only "business partners" joined together to raise their children and keep the household running.

How can you keep romance alive when your daily work schedule is grueling, you're always short on time and energy, and you're not sure what to do? Here are ten tips to help you sprinkle romance into your marriage:

1. Pay attention when your spouse mentions things he or she likes or expresses interest in something that could make a good gift, such as a new CD, a book, or theater/concert/sports tickets. Be on the lookout for ideas for birthday, holiday, and anniversary gifts, plus "no reason" surprise gifts. It's very flattering to know that someone really tried to find a gift that was just what you wanted.

2. Frequently offer foot massages, shoulder massages, and full-body massages to your spouse. You'll get plenty of romantic brownie points in your "relationship bank account" if you keep some great-smelling lotion handy and take ten minutes to massage your spouse's tired feet at the end of a long work day. Note: If you expect to be rewarded for your efforts by sex, you won't accumulate any points for being romantic. Your spouse will just think you have an ulterior motive when you offer a massage in the future.

3. Giving sweet cards and letters to your spouse can be romantic, as can emails and phone messages that share your feelings and passion. Handwritten letters sent through the mail are becoming more and more of a rarity. That's good for you because that means your spouse will think you're really romantic for taking the time to write a love letter by hand and mail it. That will make more of an impact than just sending an email if you want to get extra brownie points.

4. Another way to be romantic is to look for opportunities to pamper and spoil your spouse. That might be letting a spouse sleep in late while you watch the kids, or it could be telling your partner to sit down and relax while you clean up after dinner. The key is in the delivery of the offer. You might say, "Nothing's too good for my sweetheart" or "You're such a love. It's fun to pamper you." You can accompany your words with a hug or kiss

5. Talking in front of your spouse to someone else about your partner's good points is romantic. Take full advantage of opportunities to say, 'I'm so lucky to have such a supportive wife (or husband)-she's such a treasure. I'm a lucky man." You can also do this when you're talking on the phone and know that your spouse is within listening range. If you're not sure your partner heard you, when you get off the phone ask, "Did you hear me telling my sister what a great husband you are? I was really bragging on you!"

6. In the romance department, flowers, plants, candy, or a special home-cooked meal never go out of favor. Many females love to receive beautiful fresh flowers or a box of delicious chocolate candy. Both husbands and wives can appreciate the efforts of a partner to put together an intimate, special home-cooked meal by candlelight with music playing and flowers on the table.

7. Surprise your spouse with a framed picture of the two of you in a setting that will bring back pleasant memories. Another option is to frame a picture of your spouse that shows him or her in a flattering way and let your partner know how much you love the photo. Keep it on your nightstand, computer, dresser, or desk and let your spouse see you looking at it admiringly.

8. Take the initiative to plan a surprise weekend outing. Call and make all the arrangements ahead of time. The outing doesn't have to be expensive or complex. It might be as simple as planning a picnic at a nearby scenic spot. You might prepare the surprise picnic lunch when your spouse is in the shower. Or you might make arrangements for a restaurant to pack a gourmet lunch for the two of you that you could pick up on your way out of town.

9. Music that you and your spouse both like can set a romantic tone. If you see a movie that you both enjoyed a lot, you might consider buying the sound track as a surprise gift the following week. You could also select a song that you both like and decide to make it "your song." Or you could pick a song and tell your spouse that it reminds you of him or her for some positive reason.

10. Celebrate every occasion you can think of-the anniversary of the day you met, when you became engaged, your marriage anniversary, your birthdays, seeing the full moon, and anything else you can come up with. You can toast with champagne (or non-alcoholic champagne) and perhaps have a celebration meal. But it can be just as fun to make a big deal out of going out for an ice cream cone to celebrate.

Nancy J. Wasson, Ph.D., is co-author of Keep Your Marriage: What to Do When Your Spouse Says "I don't love you anymore!" This is available at http://www.KeepYourMarriage.com, where you can also sign up for the free weekly Keep Your Marriage Internet Magazine to get ideas and support for improving your marriage.

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