By Rob Furlong
When we hear the word romance, images of red roses, pledges of undying love and soft music that you can slow dance to playing in the background come easily to our minds. However, the word romance itself has a less than romantic origin!
Originally the word described the language used by the people of a particular country instead of Latin. Given that many languages descended from the Roman Latin, their language became known as romance.
In the Middle Ages a romance was an epic tale told about a chivalrous hero typically involving the love of a woman. By the late 18th century a group of poets and artists were responsible for the word romantic entering the English language, where it became more associated with our modern ideas of love.
May is the month when we honor our mothers and I like to think of it as an excellent opportunity for us to celebrate women in general.
With that in mind I want to give you a few tips on how to keep the romance alive in your relationship, not just in May but throughout the whole year!
Learn each other's love language. Some people express their love through words and actions, others through physical touch or by spending time with someone. If your wife likes cuddles, then give her a cuddle! If your husband responds to words of encouragement then be sure to speak them to him. I could write much more about this but a good resource is the book "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman and many a marriage would be strengthened and even saved by following Dr. Chapman's wise advice.
Practice patience with each other. As incredible as this may seem my wife does test my patience at times! But over the years I have learned (as she has with me!) to practice patience with Karen and to show her grace when I perceive that she has let me down. Notice that I used the word 'perceive' as I have discovered that often my lack of patience with Karen is more about my own failings than supposed short comings in her.
Become more understanding with each other. Many men and women struggle with depression or some form of illness and this can become wearing on the healthy partner in the relationship. Rather than simply trying to "put up' with the person until it "all blows over" look at this as a good opportunity to show sacrificial love to your partner. I understand that caring for someone with a long term illness can also take its toll on the carer but look at the response of people around the world to Bill Forward's short YouTube video about his wife's battle with Alzheimer's and his commitment to "meet her every need". What better expression of love can there be than a person's unwavering commitment to care for the other "through sickness and health"?
Serve each other. One of the greatest strengths that my wife has is her ability to lovingly serve those around her and I have been especially blessed by the countless ways that she has graciously served me over the course of our marriage. And I freely confess that I have a great propensity towards laziness!
But I have also found joy in being able to serve Karen in our marriage, whether it is by hanging the clothes out on the line for her, cooking a meal for her or in our parenting days, taking the kids to a park for half an hour so that she had some time to herself.
There are hundreds of ways that you can find to serve each other in your marriage and they have even greater impact when you offer them freely, without having to be asked!
Don't forget the chocolates! Or the slow dance music and the red roses. But I sincerely hope that you can see that romance is much more than these...it is a lifestyle of unselfish love and commitment to each other.