Passion is an essential element in any exclusive relationship. These strong emotions can serve as the wind in our sails to keep us motivated to strive to make our marriage better and to go deeper. It’s very easy to fall into patterns and just “settle” for a relationship that is functional at best. But it doesn’t matter if you have been married one year, twenty-five years, or fifty years. We all need to continue to pursue our spouse. Here are seven tips to help you do just that.
- Protect each other. Women feel loved when they feel safe. So “protecting” a woman can mean providing security for her physically and financially, but also emotionally. Men feel loved when they are respected. So wives need to “protect” their husband by safeguarding his dignity and his reputation, by speaking about him and to him with respect, and by holding him in high esteem in public and in private.
- Make yourself attractive. Nothing is so attractive to a woman than a man who has great power and authority which he submits to the service of his family. Women are attracted to power! But power at the service of the family? Even more so. Men are attracted to beauty–pretty simple, right? A woman honors her husband by taking care of herself, by making herself beautiful for him. It is a good thing for a husband to take pride in the beauty of his wife.
- Learn how to love them. Everyone experiences love differently. Some people feel loved with gifts, others by quality time. This is demonstrated beautifully in the book The Five Love Languages. Never assume you know your spouse, but instead seek to love them how they want to be loved.
- Connect. Both men and women need connection, but they make that connection in different ways. In general, women connect verbally. That means for a husband to connect with his wife, he needs to take time to listen and to understand her. Men connect physically, and this is right and good! Moving to the bedroom is not just about satisfying his desires: it’s about making a connection with her. In dysfunctional relationships, the one in the relationship who desires the most is at a disadvantage. This “desire discrepancy” can be weaponized by either spouse to get what they want. The contrast to that is “joyful availability.” Both spouses need to work to be joyfully available in order to connect in the way that best serves the other. Why does this have to be so complicated? It’s because it is only man and women together who fully reflect God’s love for us. Neither spouse can do it perfectly alone.
- Regain the art of subtleties. When we got married, often any physical affection or display of passion immediately moved to the bedroom. But it’s good to take some time to subtly show passion and desire to our spouse. Maybe is winking across the room, dancing in the kitchen, holding hands as you walk, or cuddling on the couch while watching a family movie. Research shows that it takes 30 seconds of connection for our bodies to release hormones to bond with our spouse, so make a point to daily have a 30-second kiss. Instead of a peck on the cheek, give 30 seconds so you can refresh that bond in a small way.
- Orchestrate spontaneous, romantic events. Often date night can simply become an enjoyment of common loves, which can be fine, but it’s important to have those romantic evenings as well! When our kids were little, we would put them to bed early and make a “restaurant in the kitchen”. Fancy plates, a tablecloth, candles–we would make a romantic dinner in our own home. Before your spouse comes home from work or shopping, send the kids to a friend’s house, make dinner and greet them at the door with the promise of some “alone time”. Go out to dinner and then stop at a secluded park to make out in the car. Changing up your normal routine can breathe life into your marriage.
- Never stop the pursuit. A couple who has been married 50 years told us to never assume you know everything about your spouse, because you never will. Keep pursuing them your whole life, and this will bring you both deep satisfaction and give you the energy you need to keep your marriage strong.
The great St. John Paul II tells us in Love and Responsibility, “ Love is never something ready-made, something merely given to man and woman, it is always at the same time a task which they are set. Love should be seen as something which in a sense never ‘is’ but is always only ‘becoming’…”
You should always remember to love your spouse the way that Christ loves them: giving His life for His bride. He is the one that husbands should model themselves after: loving his beloved as Christ loves the Church.
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