When I was younger, I held romance up to extremely high standards. I looked at romance with the expectation of movie-esque qualities. You know the scenes, kissing in the rain, candle-lit dinners on rooftops, and being chased down in an airport just to say, “I will miss you” one more time. These expectations of romance usually meant that any romantic night never lived up to the expectation.
Fast forward a few years and now I’m married with a toddler on the loose in the house and a pregnant belly. I have to admit my Valentine’s Day plans are not exactly movie worthy this year. And on the regular, I don’t think that big romantic gestures are top of mind for my husband and I. I mean a fancy dinner by candlelight? Ain’t nobody got time for that! In my house, we are usually scarfing down the meal before the toddler sticks his hand in your plate!
But what I have learned in the last few years is that love and romance are what you make of it. It is paying attention to your spouse. It’s not an event. It is in the day in and day out of life. And it can be beautiful and wonderful if you recognize it. Here are ways that I have found romance during this chaotic time in our lives.
- Remove expectations. This is first because it is the most important and frankly, the hardest. I have the hardest time getting out of my own head! If you already have the story written, you lose the excitement of watching it unfold. Work to not let the little things spoil what you are trying to do. I’ve learned that if I’m planning a nice dinner, to not be surprised if my husband is home late from work, instead I plan for it. That way I am not disappointed and ruin the whole night for myself.
- Recognize the little moments. If I allow myself, I can find the love and passion of our relationship every day. I just have to recognize them. They come in small, intimate moments when neither of us are trying, and that makes them all the better. Like when my husband grabs my hand under the covers at night before bed, or when he rubs my pregnant belly and gives me a little kiss in the kitchen. Those moments are when I feel the most loved.
- Be aware of when your partner is trying. Appreciate your significant other, and see when they are reaching out. Pay attention to when they are putting in the effort, and show them the love back. Nothing will squash romance and build resentment like feeling under appreciated.
- Laugh, Laugh, Laugh. I never have a better day or experience with my husband than the days that we laugh together. Laugh at silly things. Laugh at things only you two think are funny. Laugh at each other, and laugh at yourself. Having fun together is what romance is all about.
- Find joy in the kids together. The responsibility of taking care of the kids each day can be overwhelming. It is so easy to then shift all your focus to the kids and leave nothing for your spouse. My husband and I have found that doing some of the tasks together with the baby helps us stay connected. For example, changing diapers is never fun, but sometimes my husband and I go into our son’s room and talk while the other is changing him. Or we are both in bathroom for bath time. We like to giggle together at all the cute things he does. Its bonding. And finding joy in our son together, is unifying. Feeling bonded with your partner absolutely makes you feel like romance is in the air.
- Compliment one another. Just like at the beginning of the relationship you need to show your significant other that you are attracted to them. Tell them how nice they look today. Tell them how talented or smart you think they are. Be their biggest fan, because you are, so let them know it!
- Create your own little rituals. It is so fun to have your own “things” that you do. And when you do these things together they feel special, because they are shared by just you two.
- Always kiss and hug. Don’t let a day go by without giving the person you love a hug or kiss. Physical touch in that way is something you only share with one person. It is not only romantic, but it makes you feel deeply connected.
- Say it. Never doubt when there is a good moment to just blurt out, “I love you”. You may have to scream it over a crying baby or whisper it while the kids are sleeping or mouth it in the middle church, it doesn’t matter. If you think it, just say it. Never miss an opportunity to let the other person know. Everyone wants to know they are absolutely loved. And there is nothing more romantic than that!