One of the things that makes a new romance so exciting and attractive is the element of uncertainty: Is this person really interested in me? Will this person really be the one I’ve longed for?
We can all relate to the thrill of the start-up relationship where the other is essentially still a stranger and quite mysterious to us. Where is this all going to lead? The suspense is both thrilling and invigorating!
This initial thrill is the stuff of movies and love songs and is an intoxicating experience. Yet it is also very limited. It captures nothing of the magnificence of a couple’s devotion which has stayed strong over decades and matured into a love that can truly be relied upon.
Deep Christian love depends on more than the romantic feelings that come from ‘falling in love’; it requires a deliberate, willful and intentional loving.
Keeping Romance Alive
Romance carries with it a sense of playfulness and delight in one another, and is certainly not only for the young; mature couples need it too. In fact, couples often ask about how to keep the romance in their marriage, because romance is associated with a thriving, joy-filled relationship.
One way to keep romance vibrant, is to remember that we can never know all there is to know about the person we love; there is always something more to discover and love about him or her.
Romance happens when we recognise that we are mystery to each other, and so an attitude of curiosity and wonder about each other’s differences helps to sustain a couple’s romance over the years. Men and women are so different and every individual husband or wife is unique in his/her personality and gifts. Our differences can divide us as the years go by, or we can choose to see them working as a complementary force, attracting us deeper into the mystery of the other.
Mystery is foundational in our most intimate relationship because it connects us profoundly to divine love, which will always be a mystery to us.
The mystery of being loved so intimately by our romantic lover is that it reveals to us the urgency and intimacy with which God loves us: Can it really be that I am loved so completely?
In Good Times and In Bad
It’s easy to feel romantic in the good times when things are easy between us and life is fairly simple. The early years, especially the newlywed period, are often high points in a couple’s love history when maintaining a romantic connection is uncomplicated.
It’s important for couples to be proactive in fostering romance in these good times lest we fall into the trap of thinking that romance is spontaneous and effortless. Too many couples founder because we fail to make the most of the opportunity to set up romance habits that will see us through our life together.
As heart-warming as young romance is, there is something even more amazing about the romance witnessed in couples of advanced years. Like the tender attention given to a spouse who is seriously ill or the patient acceptance of a spouse with dementia.
It is in moments such as these, when one’s devotion to the other surpasses expectations, that the world truly witnesses the real power of romantic love.
Rekindling the Romance
The trick to sustaining romance is to stay in touch with mystery of the other. Here are three simple habits to help the romance grow and endure.
1. Hear the Mystery
Share with each other a cherished hope you have for your future. Listen carefully to each other. Don’t hurry this… take time to really let their hope be fully revealed.
2. See the Mystery
Make time to contemplate each other. Look into each other’s eyes with love and acceptance. Try holding your gaze for five minutes, using only your eyes to communicate your openness.
3. Speak the Mystery
Express your wonder and gratitude for all that the other is in your life. Express it in prayer, express it to each other, express it to your family and friends. Become your lover’s cheer squad and advocate.
Francine & Byron Pirola are the founders and principal authors of the SmartLoving series. They are passionate about living Catholic marriage to the full and helping couples reach their marital potential. They have been married since 1988 and have five children.
Their articles may be reproduced for non commercial purposes with appropriate acknowledgement and back links.