We have funny ideas about romance. We think of it as candlelight, being showered in gifts, and a stolen kiss. That may be sort-of romantic, but at my age those things have worn kind of thin. And I think they have for a lot of people.
Take Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, for instance. He's probably the most romantic figure in fiction. Women hold him up as the ideal that they're looking for. But what is he like? For most of the story he's cold, distant, and insulting. He certainly never does the candlelight and gift thing. He doesn't even steal a kiss! But he's a man of action. When it comes right down to it, he moves heaven and earth for the one he loves at great cost and inconvenience to himself.
And isn't that what we all ultimately want? Someone who has our backs and will be there when we really need them?
The dictionary defines romance as: Ardent emotional attachment or involvement between people. I like that definition. One of the most romantic things my husband ever said to me was when I was puking my guts out after an airline flight. Feeling like the scum of the world, I apologized that I'd once again put a damper on our trip by getting airsick (for about the 3,000th time). His response? "You're the bravest person I know." In that moment, I felt an ardent emotional attachment that was much greater than if he'd bought me 10 dozen roses and suitcases full of candy.
So what's the key to having an ardent emotional attachment and involvement? I can think of at least five things.
- You have to set aside time together. Regularly make a date to get away from jobs, ministry, kids, and the phone. If you're living in the same house and never interacting, that isn't ardent emotional attachment.
- Become each other's warrior and defender. Stick up for each other in front of the kids, in front of extended family, and in front of your friends. That doesn't mean that you don't see the other's faults and face them, but do that privately after much prayer and thought. On a daily basis, make a commitment to build that person up whenever possible.
- Return blessings for arrows. Whenever possible, return kindness for unkindness. Not only will it improve your marriage, but it will make you more Christ-like.
- Talk about everything. If you're afraid to talk to your spouse about how you really feel about something, you won't feel an ardent emotional attachment. You'll feel that you're placating him or her so that you don't have a blow out. That will end up feeling like walking on eggshells after a while. I'd rather see a couple have a shouting match about something they disagree on than refuse to talk about it at all. Every once in a while, my husband and I have a good old yelling match, which lets us know how strongly we're feeling about the subject, then we calm down and really talk about it.
- Sincerely desire the other person's best. Most times that I'm angry with my husband, it's because I didn't get my way. When I step back and think about how I can help him be everything he can be in Christ, I feel a lot more compassion for him—indeed I feel an ardent emotional attachment that I would call romance.
JoHannah Reardon served as the Managing Editor for Christian Bible Studies.
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