Men are probably tired of hearing that women want to be romanced. It is said that if you give a guy a decent job, a roof over his head, and a robust sex life he can tolerate just about anything. Most women, however, desire more. They want to be made to feel adored, attractive, and valued. And some women would like to be considered interesting enough to engage in conversation—the nerve of them. Over lunch one of my female colleagues simplified it for me: “It’s no great mystery, Stephen, most of us will have sex with our partners if they are nice to us.” No argument there; but I will go one step further. Over many years of treating couples, and from personal experience, I can attest that adding a regular dose of romance to your relationship can and will be one of the best investments you will ever make. While anyone regardless of gender and sexual orientation can apply this concept, my objective is to specifically address men who prefer to build their castles exclusively through their careers and material possessions and resent more that is required of them. The following 5 suggestions are believed to add to the quality and sustainability of your long-term relationship:
1. Start with Romance: The Proposal — I have heard of men proposing with ink pens and car keys, and whatever they could get their hands on other than a ring. Now I am not one to thwart creativity—maybe some women find getting a car more romantic than a ring with their favorite stone in it. But if they are the romantic type, you would be making a mistake to take too many liberties with this moment. It can and should be perhaps your best chance to show your partner that you are not like the rest of those guys…the ones who worship beer and ESPN. You will score points by putting a lot of thought into the proposal process: choosing the right time, the right romantic place, and the ring she may have always wanted. Squandering this moment might be forgiven, but never forgotten. If you knock this one out of the park, she will always remember you with fondness.
2. Maintain the Romantic Vibe — It is important to keep the fires burning. Plan romantic diners or trips, or send spontaneous, romantic texts: I like literary quotes, but some prefer lines from famous songs. Write a poem or send one from the master: “You are like nobody since I love you” – Pablo Neruda. These efforts show that you are constantly thinking of your partner and that you value the relationship—your partner is your one and only.
3. Use a Team Approach — Too many couples fail to protect their relationships from outside influences. I find it romantic to share an “us against the world attitude.” But to do so you must respect your choice of mate. To neglect or denigrate your partner is like disrespecting yourself. Your partner is your teammate and few teams can win a championship by tearing key players down. You will not always be on the same page as your partner but recognize this and negotiate in good faith. Prolonged control struggles can cause serious damage to a relationship in and out of the bedroom. Build your partner’s self-worth and your team will prosper.
4. Complement Your Partner’s Attractiveness — Let your partner know how attracted you are to them. Complement their dress, their body, or perhaps even their smile. This does not have to be about sex. In fact, a complement about a smile or mannerism may pay even greater long-term dividends. Don’t wait for someone outside the relationship to do your job. I often hear a partner caught in an extramarital affair tell their spouse that their lover is much more complementary. I doubt you will want to wait for this kind of reminder.
5. Initiate Lovemaking —Take initiative when it comes to sex. Being too pushy is counterproductive but demonstrating a desire for your partner is romantic. And make love not sex. Consider your partner’s desires and build the sexual process slowly. I hear too many stories of spouses claiming to be treated like a piece of meat or used like a prostitute. Kissing is underrated but can be very romantic and sexy. Do a lot of it if you can.
There are many more examples of how you can put romance to work to enhance your relationship; my objective was to simply get the conversation started. And I also know most of you are busy living life. But the last thing I suspect you would want to do is to let your love fade. Put the work in now so that you will never hear those dreaded words: “I love you Harry, but I am no longer in love with you.” By then it will most likely be too late, and no amount of romance will save you.
I will leave you with one more recommendation for the road. It may sound simple but often partners do not look into one another’s eyes when they attempt to communicate. Gaze at your partner. A friend of mine was walking through a park with his girlfriend and a couple people called to him: old friends. He quickly turned and told them that he would see them later. When his girlfriend questioned his response, he explained: “When I am with you, I can only see you.” Now that is a romantic guy.