10 Slightly-Untraditional Tips for Keeping the Spark in Marriage

I adapted this weeks Marriage Monday to suit our family. If you want to skip the explanation and move to my list it is below the purple.

Valentines card

Valentines Day is barely on the radar at our house. Sure the kids like to make valentines for each other and make cookies and candy for friends which they deliver when we go out, but as far as our marriage relationship goes it isn’t a focus. Our anniversary is January 25 and my dad’s anniversary is Valentines Day, and we usually get some gift cards and babysitting for Christmas. 🙂 Since we just got to have a personalized holiday without all the “everyone’s doing it” frills, we usually skip the hype.

That said, my attitude wasn’t always that way. Back when we were dating and later when we were a newly married couple I was horribly disappointed that we didn’t do much for Valentine’s Day. My friends at the time all struggled with the same thing: our guys didn’t get it. After years of being disappointed (and yes I left hints and outright asked) I made a discovery. If I removed the wrappers of commercialism I realized I didn’t care–I only cared because I was being told I should at every turn. Then I came to an even bigger realization: my discontent and selfishness was harming our marriage. Wow.

You see my husband has a romantic streak. It is a geeky romantic streak but romantic all the same. One year he got me my own domain name and designed a website for me, one year he got me geek dice (ice blue, they are wonderful). Other years he got me a new hat (I love hats and he loves that I wear them). He has bought me movies, a camera, a coffee pot, a computer tablet–or the most romantic ever–he got a babysitter and took me shopping for a new dress, letting me try them on and helping me decide without a single longing glance towards the comic book store. The things he buys have much thought behind them, consideration, not of what women like but what I like and do. His gifts show that he knows me well and knows what is best suited to me. He also knows that I don’t like things to be “normal” and “what everyone else is doing” and when all those things are overpriced and most certainly not my style. He is the same way. Why on earth would he run out and buy me some chocolate or flowers on a certain day because everyone else is expecting it? Especially when we don’t have the money and we just celebrated our anniversary?

That said I want to share some of our favorite romantic tips that help us keep the spark in our marriage, not for Valentines Day but in general, for everyday romance (we work in the same home office and spend all day together so likely these would need adapted for your own situation.)

  1. Prepare his coffee (or whatever) so that it is ready when he gets up. We have two coffee pots–mine and his. Issac LOVES to get mine all ready for morning and beat me awake so he can have it ready for me. Yeah he is a sweet kid. I try to remember to make my husband’s decaf up and have it all ready for him to press the button in the morning. He sleeps at odd times so I can’t preset it but I can have it prepared. It is a little way of telling him “I love you” while I am still asleep. The reason this works is that he does appreciate it and feels loved when I do it–I know because I asked.
  2. Bring him a drink when he runs out. He does the same for me. It is a quiet, non-distracting way of saying I love you. When you work on the type of things we work on non-distracting is key.
  3. Keep his favorite snacks on hand. If we run out I try to remember to pick up some of his latest favorite. Keeping them on hand means he doesn’t have to make a trip out when he finds out we are out of ____. This is important since he HATES going out and when he has to it spoils his concentration.
  4. Take care of the things that bug him. There are things that REALLY bug my husband. Making sure that those things are taken care of makes a huge difference in our relationship. He does the same for me. He knows what bothers me and deals with those things. I know this doesn’t seem romantic but it is a little thing that makes a huge difference. If he hates clutter, declutter, if he hates dirty dishes, clean them up. You will be amazed at how much difference this makes.
  5. Tell him how wonderful he is. Now this works for me because my husband’s love language is words of encouragement. When I mention how proud I am of him or encourage him with words in any way his “love bucket” gets full to overflowing. I am not a words person– I am service and spend time with me and he knows that, which is why he does the laundry and the garbage. He knows I can’t carry heavy loads and makes sure to serve me–which fills MY love bucket.
  6. Make him something special. If we use cards I make them. I hate wasting money on a card that doesn’t say what I want. My mom was the same way. My husband appreciates a handmade card or note better than the most expensive store bought. If you can’t do cards write poetry, bake something, design something, whatever. Most guys appreciate something from the heart more than something store bought (well at least the ones I know.) Use your gifts, the things that he appreciates about you to bless him.
  7. Make him something SPECIAL. A long time ago now I did something for a friend which her husband ADORED. She asked me because she knew that my husband and I had done similar. I used to, a long time ago, do some modeling for my husband’s amateur photography. It was tasteful but only just. Think 50’s cheesecake. My husband loved that I was willing to do that for him. My friend came to me and asked me to photos of her for her husband–who had struggled a bit with temptation. It was an incredible way for her to step out and help him but it also helped their marriage significantly. It was also incredibly romantic and sweet. There are plenty of ways to take photos that are “risqué” and for his eyes only (especially with a digital camera) and photo editing software makes getting rid of those less than flattering shots a cinch. It takes guts to do but your husband will LOVE it.
  8. Know what he likes. A fancy candlelit dinner, picnic, a gift (unless it is something he particularly wants), going out (except to a movie, the comic book or game store, or out to his favorite restaurant), sweets or travel won’t make my hubby happy. He hates that sort of thing. In fact, most of the things on the “romance” lists don’t suit. For my geeky hubby I need to find things that appeal to him. Just as my sister-in-law knew that a trip to see my brother-in-laws favorite football team play was the perfect gift, I know that such a gift would be a waste on my husband. Praise the Lord they don’t suit me either. There is a reason we are together. In my husband’s case a babysitter, a trip to the mall with a gift card for the comic book store or a trip to our favorite Mexican restaurant would do the trick. So to would a wander around the bookstore or a romantic movie at home (the romance is in the “at home” not the movie–we like Kung Fu and Sci Fi.:))
  9. KNOW what he likes. Finally and most importantly know what appeals to him in the feminine way. My husband LOVES that I share his passion for computers, games, and comic book characters (we have different favorites but he loves that we are on the same general page.) He finds this very appealing. He also loves the way I dress and I know how to dress if I want his attention, which he loves. There are other things that I will not divulge but which are important to us from a romantic standpoint. Knowing those things and making sure that I step in occasionally to distract him, even if just with a kiss on the for head and an I love you makes all the difference.
  10. Show him you have eyes only for him. Finally, keeping your husband as you love interest means guarding your heart against other men. Let him know, often, that you think only of him, and eliminate possible temptations to fantasize from your life. If you tell your husband how sexy you think him and take good care of yourself for his sake you will find him standing taller, trying to stay healthy, dressing better, trying to live up to what you are telling him. Oogling other guys in the movies or reading romance novels and whatever is not going to make him feel good and is a good way to kill the spark. He knows he can’t live up to those fantasies, just as you know you can’t live up to all those beautiful women in the ads. You expect him to flee temptation, you need to do it too.

Marriage Monday meets here the first Monday of every month. Two topics received equal votes in last month’s poll: “Top Ten Tips For the Ultimate Valentine’s Celebration” and “My Most Memorable Valentine’s Day Ever.” Choose your favorite and write your heart out. Then link up at Chrysalis. Please leave your PERMALINK by Friday Feb 8, 2008.