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Understanding Your Romantic Style

You probably fall into a pattern when it comes to romance. Here’s help in understanding what you prefer … and even more important, what your spouse desires.
By Dave Boehi


What’s the most romantic thing your spouse has done for you? 

We asked this question of our readers, and the answers were pretty interesting … and surprising.

Some readers shared special memories of spontaneous and unexpected gestures. One woman wrote to tell about one day when she was driving, and when she pulled up to a stoplight she didn’t realize her husband was just behind her. “I heard a knock on my window, rolled it down and he gave me a very long kiss and then ran back to his car. That was three years ago and I still smile at that red light!”

Others told of elaborate romantic schemes. There was the story of the husband and wife who taught at the same school. One year on their anniversary, she was surprised when one of his students walked into her classroom, plugged in a CD player, and then left. Another student then entered and placed a crystal vase on her desk. Then a third student appeared and pressed “play” on the CD player. It was her favorite song: “You Are So Beautiful” by Ray Charles. Finally, another dozen students came in and placed red roses into the vase on her desk. “Between the tears in my eyes and my poor students ooohing and aaahhing, the rest of the afternoon was a piece of cake!” she wrote.

What surprised me was the number of people who wrote about simple acts or statements of love:

My husband is far from being a romantic but we text each other on a daily basis just to say ‘I love you.’ One day he sent me a text that said, ‘I think I’m in love with you and I’m lucky to have you for my wife.’ That’s romance.

*****

I have an amazing husband. He does many romantic things, but one of them is to paint my toenails when I am pregnant.

*****

My husband and I have been together for almost 22 years. We were separated for three of those years, and during that time we individually turned our lives over to Christ. I used to yearn for the typical romantic gestures—poetry, candy, flowers, an unexpected kiss. Now, I can honestly say that the most romantic thing that my husband does for me is when I am having a bad day, he will put his arms around me and pray for me. It means more to me than I can ever express and is one of the most romantic things he does for me.

*****

He brought me home my very own pint of Haagen-Dazs coffee ice cream. Why so romantic? To me it is the small things that count. He doesn't even like coffee ice cream, so it was all for me!

*****

My husband asked me to install a content filter on his laptop before he deployed to Afghanistan. He didn't want to be tempted to look at anything that would hurt me or our marriage since we would be apart for so long.

Remember, these readers are recalling the most romantic things these spouses have done. I guess it shows how romantic a simple gesture can be.

Understanding our differences

Reading through these responses helped me realize how important it is for us to understand what we prefer in romance. What do you like, and even more important, what does your spouse prefer?

Author Gary Chapman’s list of “love languages” is helpful.  Each of us, he writes, has a love language—a way we like others to express love to us.  The five basic love languages are:

  • Receiving gifts
  • Quality time
  • Words of affirmation
  • Acts of service and devotion
  • Physical touch

The mistake many of us make is assuming that our spouse shares the same love language. On a FamilyLife Today® broadcast, cohost Bob Lepine said Chapman’s book helped him understand that he and his wife, Mary Ann, have different love languages.  “My way of receiving love is—I like words of affirmation and I like physical touch. She likes acts of service. So, I can say all the words I want; but if I don’t pick up a rake and do something, I haven’t spoken love to her. She can do all the nice things for me she wants; but if she doesn’t say, ‘You are such a stud!’, then she hasn’t spoken love to me.”

Romance styles

It also helps to understand each other’s romance style.  For example, when it comes to romance …

Do you prefer the grand gesture—something big and dramatic—or are you an everyday romantic who prefers the little, everyday expressions of caring?

Do you like spontaneous expressions of romance, or are you a planner who prefers your spouse to put a lot of thought into romantic moments to do them right?

Are you reserved or mushy in how you show your feelings?

Are you sentimental—cherishing the memories you’ve built together and enjoying gifts that remind you of special experiences?  Or are you practical—preferring your spouse show commitment by focusing on meeting your day-to-day needs?

Do you prefer the traditional trappings of romance, like flowers and candles?  Or do you respond most to creative gestures—trying new things together?

Take a few minutes to answer these questions for yourself … and then for your spouse. (FamilyLife also offers an online quiz to help you determine your romantic style.)

Then look for ways to express your love in ways that your spouse appreciates. If you want to boost the romance in your marriage, in the spirit of Philippians 2:1-4 focus less on your needs and more on what your spouse desires.

The unexpected gesture

And consider that the most memorable romantic gestures may feel out of character for you. One wife wrote that the most romantic thing her husband had done for her was having roses delivered to her work place. This was special to her because he normally didn’t express his love in public like that.

Another wife wrote:

My husband has a hard time sharing his heart with me. Last June we celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary and instead of the usual card he wrote me a three-page letter sharing his heart. He let me into his personal thoughts and it made feel very special.

A favorite story

One of my favorite stories from readers was from a woman who wrote of losing her baby when she was 19 weeks pregnant. “After our loss I suffered from post-partum [depression] for many weeks. My husband was so supportive and loving, but my hormones and emotions got the best of me during that time.”

Her favorite musician is Van Morrison, but she had never seen him perform in concert. A few weeks after their loss, her husband took her on a mystery trip for their anniversary. After driving for seven hours, they arrived in Alpharetta, Georgia, and he announced, “We’re here!” Then he pulled out two tickets for a Van Morrison concert that night. 

“I sat in disbelief for what seemed like a lifetime,” she wrote. “I was so overcome with emotion not only by the romantic and thoughtful action of my husband surprising me with such a wonderful gift, but also by what I saw as God’s hand in having that concert fall on our anniversary weekend and to put it on my husband’s heart to happen to think of planning that! It was the most wonderful weekend for us and a real turning point in my healing process.”

You can read all the responses we received by clicking here. It’s a great list—and you might just find some good ideas to implement yourself—for Valentine’s Day, an anniversary, a birthday, or anytime you want to express your feelings for one who shares your life. 


Copyright © 2011 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.



Meet the Author: Dave Boehi

Dave Boehi is a senior editor at FamilyLife. He has written one book (I Still Do), coauthored the Preparing for Marriage workbook, edited dozens of books and Bible studies, and produces the FamilyLife e-newsletter Help & Hope. Dave and his wife, Merry, live in Little Rock, Arkansas, and have two married daughters.

 

 

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