Reader Question: How to Be Romantic when You're a Romance-Challenged WifeOkay, ladies, if you’re stuck, wondering how to be romantic–or if you don’t feel the need to be romantic at all, since that’s the man’s job–I’ve got some words for you today!

Every Monday I like to take a reader question and tackle it, and today’s is from a man who is married to a romance-challenged woman. He writes:

We’ve been married for a decade, but my wife makes it seem like romance and sex are always chores. I love my wife. I really do, but what is the reaction supposed to be when the guy always has to initiate everything affectionate? She hasn’t came up and kissed me for any reason in 12 years. I can never do anything right in her eyes, and sometimes she’ll go for months without having sex!  All I ever wanted was a woman the would love me and be with and care about me. I wanted romance, the flowers, the candlelight dinner for two. The trip to nowhere to just get lost in each others touch. But what I get is “you’re fat” (because I gained 40 pounds) or conversations about how hot John Legend is. Where are my “I love yous”? Where are my hugs?

Wow, that’s a tough one. And there could be many things happening in this particular situation–often women stop kissing, for instance, because they feel like if they do it has to lead somewhere, and they’re not sure they want it to. There are likely some underlying factors going on here, and the couple has seen a counselor, apparently, but to no avail.

My recommendation when you feel like you’re really drifting apart and you’re not connecting is always to work on your friendship first. Find ways to have fun together and just to talk, and then you bring the tension down in the relationship so that you’re able to tackle bigger problems. Read the posts linked here for much longer ideas in those veins, which would likely be helpful for this husband. And if your wife never wants sex, here‘s a post you can show her.

But today I want to take a broader issue and run with it, because Valentine’s Day is coming up now in less than a week, and sometimes we women are rather relationship challenged, and don’t know how to be romantic. We think it’s only HIM who needs to be romantic, and that we can sit back and wait to be wooed.

Not true! We’re supposed to be doing some serious wooing ourselves. So today, here’s a pep talk for women who are lousy at romance–and some lessons on how to be romantic for YOUR man.

How to Be Romantic: A guide for wives who are lousy at romance! #marriage

How to Be Romantic: For Women!

Let’s take a step back and define what romance is. It isn’t just flowers and candlelight. It’s so much more.

Romance says: I don’t just want to be with you for sex. I don’t just want you for what you can do for me. I care deeply about you, as a person. That’s why romance, to work, must be uniquely personalized to the object of affection. Romance says, “I notice you. I care about you. I want you to be with you–not just for sex, but for you.” And so romance isn’t just an art; it’s a discipline as we study our beloved, learn how they tick, and then woo them.

How to Be Romantic: The definition of romance. It's all about studying you're beloved!

Every time you study your husband and learn how he ticks, and then reach out to him using things that he likes, you’re being romantic!

Learn How Your Husband Ticks

I’ve seen all of these crafts on Pinterest that you can do for your husband at Valentine’s Day. Origami you can cut out; words you can stencil; hearts you can create. And I wonder to myself: how many men will actually appreciate that?

Maybe some will, and effort is always a good thing.

But effort is so much better if it’s put into learning what your husband is actually motivated by, and then doing those things.

Putting a playlist of love songs together with his favorite bands; buying a collection of beef jerky rather than a box of chocolates; decorating with sports memorabilia of a team you saw on one of your first dates rather than candlelight. I can’t give you a long list of things that may work because that’s exactly the point: it has to be about YOUR husband. Mine would like hot chocolate in a thermos, walking hand in hand at dawn to go birdwatching, even if it’s cold. But yours probably wouldn’t (and perhaps you should be grateful you can stay warm!)

We’re told that romance must be flowers and candlelight and chocolates, and that certainly can set the mood. Those things say,

I want this experience to be special, and not only about us having sex. It’s about us experiencing everything together.

But for him, what’s really romantic may be something entirely different. It’s you figuring out what he loves, and then trying to enter into that world, too.

Say Nice Things About His Physique–and Say Nothing About Anyone Else’s

Guys need to hear that they’re good looking, too! It isn’t just women who need that encouragement. So tell your husband what you find attractive about him–his beard, his hands, his muscles, whatever. I know sometimes it’s hard to be attracted to your husband at all, but largely this is a decision that you must make.

And that means stop looking at other guys! And even if you do look or see occasionally, do not advertise it. Do not tell him. Do not tell others. Take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), and when those thoughts enter your brain, dismiss them. Right away.

How to Be Romantic: Stop talking about and looking at other men! #marriagetip

Thank Him for Things

You know what’s romantic to a guy? Knowing that his wife appreciates what he does. So one of the most romantic things you can do is to thank him for things that he does. Make it a habit, every day, to thank him for at least one thing. Especially if the tension is high in your relationship, this helps to ratchet it down considerably.

Remember, if romance is noticing somebody and reaching out, then thanking someone is a huge part of romance!

Regularly Encourage Him

Along those lines, establish a routine to regularly encourage him. Maybe you text him something encouraging everyday. Maybe you send him a note in his lunch, or pray for him every night before you go to bed.

Here’s how encouragement works:

  1. Thank him for something
  2. Tell him something you’ve noticed–“I saw how you tried not to lose your patience with your boss on the phone today. Way to go!”
  3. Tell him you believe in him, that he’s going in the right direction.

Do those three things, and you’ll have a husband who feels ten feet tall!

Flirt with Your Husband

Here’s a secret about gratitude and encouragement: the more we thank him and encourage him, the more we’ll be noticing good things about him. And that means we’ll be thinking about those good things more frequently, rather than thinking about the bad things. And that change of thought patterns will help us feel much more affectionate!

So now you can start flirting with your husband. I’ve got 16 awesome ideas to flirt here.

Be Affectionate–Keep Kissing!

You’ve started to flirt, so you’re laughing a little bit more. Now add some kissing to the mix! Marriage needs kissing. Want to make him feel like you are pursuing him? Kiss him for 10-15 seconds every night, when you’re both together after work. Try it for a week, and see how it changes your relationship.

Touch Him More

Humans were created to crave physical touch. Some of us aren’t touchy people, but even if you don’t like touch in general, with your husband, try to make it a regular occurrence. When you’re sitting beside him on the couch, put your hand on his leg. When he walks by you, pat his butt!

Make Love to Him

And here’s the culmination of everything: put a priority on making love in your marriage. That’s the ultimate way to say to a guy, “I notice you. I admire you. I want you to know that I want to share this experience with you.”

Guys know that for a woman to actually enjoy making love she has to be mentally into it. She has to decide, “I want to be deeply intimate with my husband right now.” They know the difference between us “letting” him and us being an enthusiastic participant. Again, it’s that mental switch that says, “I am going to enjoy my husband tonight!”

31 Days to Great SexAnd if you don’t know where to start, check out 31 Days to Great Sex, a 31-day challenge you do with your husband to help you talk more about sex, flirt more, and spice things up. You’ll learn how to enjoy sex a lot more, too! It’s a low key way to get your love life back on track. Learn more here.

Think About This: Do you want a love story? Then make one!

Do these steps, in this order, and the making love one will come more naturally. As you start to study him; as you thank him more and look for things to encourage in him; as you flirt more, kiss more, touch more, you’ll naturally raise your own desire levels for your husband. You’ll feel more connected.

That’s how our brains work. The things that we choose to focus on become the things that we actively think about. If you want to change your marriage, then change the way you think about your husband!

Instead of focusing on what you don’t have (maybe he’s gained 40 pounds, or he isn’t that romantic), focus on what you do have. And think about it this way: If you want a love story, your best chance to get it is with the man you’re with. So don’t sit back and wait for him to completely change. Become the romantic wife you were meant to be. Create your own love story, and you just may find that learning how to be romantic is actually a fun experience.

Do you struggle with how to be romantic? Let me know in the comments!

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