My husband and I have difficulty managing our conflicts. We knew marriage would be difficult. Ours, however, has turned out to be much more difficult than either of us anticipated. Sometimes our anger spills out in front of the children. Can you share something to help us do a better job of dealing with our differences? —Diane, Honolulu, Hawaii
Real Family Talk
by Willie and Elaine Oliver
We have been married for three years, and my husband has already forgotten how to be romantic. What can I say or do to have him do a better job being romantic?
We are happy to hear that you enjoyed three years of steady romantic practice by your husband. You are a blessed woman. We hear from so many others whose romantic streak ended about six months into marriage.
While romance certainly contributes a great deal to keeping a marriage fresh, alive, and stimulating, it is only a relatively small part of the whole of marriage. Hard-working, gainfully employed, responsible, loyal, committed, honest, trustworthy, and spiritually mature: these are traits you truly want to see in the person you married.
So take a look at the other side of things: Imagine you had a very romantic husband. However, he wasn’t hard-working, didn’t have a job, was irresponsible, disloyal, lacked commitment, was dishonest, untrustworthy, and lacked spiritual maturity. What would you think?
Our point is, if you have a husband you can depend on, one who has demonstrated all the wonderful traits we mentioned, your challenge is not as great as having a husband who is all romance and nothing else.
Back to your concern about the lack of romance in your marriage: It is a legitimate and important matter about which every married person should be concerned and intentional. Many married men and women, once they get into the routine of marriage, tend to forget the little things that make a marriage special.
Now to your initial question: What can you say or do to make your husband more romantic? Well, what do you really want out of marriage? What is most important to you? And what does the Bible say is most important about relationships, and sustaining them?
The apostle Paul wrote under inspiration to the believers in Ephesus, an ancient city about two miles southwest of present-day Izmir in Turkey:
“Follow God’s example, therefore, as beloved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:1, 2).
From this Bible verse we see that we should be imitators of God by loving others as Christ loves us. We have to do the same in marriage. Rather than waiting for our mates to do something for us, we have to take the initiative as children of God and do the loving thing first. Rather than wait for your husband to do something nice for you, do something nice for him. When someone does something nice for us, we are much more likely to do something nice for them.
Another reality about which married women are often unaware is that their husbands will never be able to read their minds, no matter how long they’ve been married. So if you need your husband to do something romantic for you, tell him. Rather than waiting for him to figure it out or try to guess, just tell him what he can do to make you feel loved. If you take turns telling each other what the other can do to make you feel loved, you will spend more time enjoying each other and trying to outdo each other in love.
We encourage you to try our advice, and in the counsel of the apostle Paul: “Do everything in love” (1 Cor. 16:14). You will continue in our prayers.
Willie Oliver, PhD, CFLE, an ordained minister, pastoral counselor, and family sociologist, is director for Family Ministries at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Elaine Oliver, MA, CFLE, an educator and counseling psychologist, is associate director of Family Ministries. You may communicate with them at Family.Adventist.org or HopeTV.org/RealFamilyTalk.
All Bible references are from the English Standard Version.