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Romancing Your Man

It comes down to one simple principle—love your neighbor as you would want to be loved.
By Barbara Rainey

I've noticed that most romantic novels and movies contain a common theme. It goes like this: A handsome, intelligent, adventurous, single man on a mission unexpectedly meets a beautiful, equally intelligent single woman under improbable circumstances—often in an exotic foreign location or in a lavish historical setting. Though their personalities may clash at first, and though they may even be on opposing “teams,” eventually they fall madly in love. And while this love is often impulsive and always new—never mature—in most cases the story ends with the unspoken assumption that they will live happily ever after.

How many romance novels or all-star chick flicks feature a faithful husband and wife with two, four, six, or eight children, living a normal life (whatever that is!) going to work and school and church, and enjoying passionate romance on a regular basis? Not many that I know of.

How many couples really live like people in the movies and novels? Who can maintain that level of intensity? Or adventure, intrigue, and surprise? Does that sound like your marriage relationship? I’m guessing it doesn’t.

Everyone must come down from the high of new love and make the transition to everyday romance. But it’s also important to work at renewing some elements of that “first love.” That’s why a good book or movie with a romantic theme, as shallow as they may be, can also be instructive; they can cause us to reflect on and remember the flavor of new love. They show us how couples in love act with each other, and they remind us of the effort that many of us once put into our marriage relationship.

Imagination and creativity

Couples in the new love season of romance are often so focused on pleasing each other that they devise ingenious means of capturing each other’s attention and create endless ways to say “I love you.” Their courtship is marked with creative notes and gifts, interesting dates, surprise parties, and much more. But at some point complacency sets in to a relationship, and creativity often goes out the window—or is refocused toward the children.

The ability to imagine and create sets humans apart from the animal world. It’s a connection to God Himself—using your mind to think of something that is different or unique or distinct and then expressing that idea in some kind of action.

In an article titled “God Is Not Boring,” John Piper suggests that using our God-given imagination is a Christian duty. He writes, “Jesus said, ‘Whatever you wish that others would do to you do also to them’ (Matthew 7:12). We must imagine ourselves in their place and imagine what we would like done to us. Compassionate, sympathetic, helpful love hangs much on the imagination of the lover.”

The application for rekindling romance in marriage is this:  Express your love to your husband in the same way you want him to express it to you.  Small actions of creativity can include phone calls, e-mails, and little notes that express your gratitude and praise for who he is and what he does. Whisper in his ear, telling him you enjoyed your most recent lovemaking; that will make him proud to be your man. Thank him verbally for his manly qualities that you love—his strength, his work, his leadership, his faithfulness, his way of serving you and your children.

Then, there are those medium-level creative touches that contribute more directly to a romantic rendezvous. Buy candles and romantic music for your bedroom. Replace your worn-out panties and bras with something new and more interesting. Demonstrate greater affection by giving him a back rub or more passionate kisses or some other affectionate means of extra attention. My husband always appreciates a new nightgown because he knows it’s not important to me what I wear to bed as long as I’m warm. The truth is, I’d wear the same thing for years until it wore out if it weren’t for my husband!

Ultimately the best creativity is your imaginative new ways to give yourself to your husband sexually. Depending on your background and your husband’s level of interest in trying new things, this could require a great amount of risk for you. The only guidelines for your creativity are that it be pleasing to your husband, not offensive to either of you, and within the boundaries of Scripture. Plan a special love feast for his birthday; find different places to enjoy love; dream up different things to wear … or not wear.

Baking a cake

One last thought as you sift through these elements for creating your own romantic marriage. In some ways, renewing romance is like baking a cake. Many common ingredients, such as flour and sugar and eggs, go into every cake recipe, but there are also many variables that affect the baking. Oven temperature, altitude, humidity, and the inevitable mistakes of inaccurate measuring, incorrect ingredients, or inadequate equipment have an effect on the final product.

Each partner brings to the marriage a host of romantic variables. Each of us brings a way of thinking from the past. Each of us has experienced disappointment and failure and rejection in life unrelated to romance and sex that influence the ability to take further risks. Many marriages deal with repeated health issues for one or both spouses.

Your individual personalities will also be factors. Some are very expressive verbally and physically. Others enjoy new experiences, are somewhat impulsive, and think fun is more important than frugality. Still others are extremely practical and evaluate the actual monetary cost and the emotional cost of each decision. More cautious, not impulsive, and less expressive would better describe them. Be careful not to ignore or minimize these variables in rekindling your own romance.

In the end, renewing romance in your marriage means taking the time to work on your relationship by gathering the right ingredients and being willing to “love your neighbor as yourself”—and your nearest neighbor in this case just happens to be your husband.

Excerpted from Rekindling the Romance. Copyright © 2004 by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Publishers. All rights reserved.

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Meet the Author: Barbara Rainey

Barbara Rainey is a wife, mother of six adult children (plus three sons-in-law and two daughters-in-law), and "Mimi" to nineteen grandchildren.

After graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ in 1971. Her husband, Dennis, whom she married in 1972, is the President of FamilyLife, a ministry of Cru that is headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Barbara has published articles on family-related topics and is the author of Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember and When Christmas Came.  She speaks at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage conferences and is a frequent guest on FamilyLife Today®, a nationally syndicated, daily radio program.  She and Dennis are the coauthors of several books, including Growing a Spiritually Strong Family, Starting Your Marriage Right, Moments Together for Couples, The New Building Your Mate’s Self-Esteem, Parenting Today’s Adolescent, Rekindling the Romance, and Moments with You. She co-authored A Mother’s Legacy with her daughter, Ashley Rainey Escue and joined Dennis and their children Rebecca and Samuel on the book So You’re About To Be A Teenager. Barbara has also co-authored Barbara and Susan’s Guide to the Empty Nest, with close friend Susan Yates, and A Symphony in the Dark, written with her daughter, Rebecca Rainey Mutz. And Barbara has written a series focusing on character traits for families, including the titles Growing Together in Gratitude, Growing Together in Courage, Growing Together in Forgiveness, and Growing Together in Truth.

Having faithfully served alongside Dennis for more than 30 years, both in ministry and at home, Barbara has recently launched a new endeavor called Ever Thine Home™.  This new line of products, including Christ centered ornaments for Christmas, teaching tools for Lent and Easter, and beautiful additions for your home for thanksgiving and year round makes it easy to express faith at home in a way that is both biblical and beautiful.  Her heart for Ever Thine Home is based on the familiar Old Testament instruction:

“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:9, ESV)

You can read more about Barbara’s work at

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