WOULDN’T IT BE NICE IF LOVE, ROMANCE AND VALENTINE’S DAY PASSION LASTED ALL YEAR LONG? It can! The Bible tells us that “God is Love.” And God’s Word is like a love letter to us, so it stands to reason that the Bible might have a few suggestions about how to create lasting love.
My husband, Bill, and I have been married for almost 40 years, and we have been teaching others about loving relationships for nearly 40 years too! We like to help married couples keep the spark and sizzle in their romantic life by giving four simple concepts that fan the flame on L.O.V.E.
In our book, The First Five Years, we explain how to create a memorable romantic encounter for your spouse no matter how many years you are married. Keep this acrostic for LOVE in mind as you make plans to wow the one you love:
Listen Observe Vary Extract
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).
Your spouse will drop hints about the things he or she loves, and you can use these hints to create more romance and sizzle in your relationship. For example, if you listen to Bill and me in a casual lunch conversation, you would discern that Bill loves things like: football, fishing, cooking, joke telling and the Bible. If you listen to Pam, you’d discover she loves travel, biking, swimming, tennis, laughing and helping women — and the spa!
It doesn’t take much imagination then to know that if I (Pam) give Bill a day of ocean fishing or if he gave me a day at the spa, we would be more interested in each other at the end of that day. But it doesn’t have to cost a lot. Kayaking is on both our lists, so we have a goal to have a kayak date in every state we travel to for business. Walking and biking are also on both of our lists, so an evening stroll, or a leisurely cycle along the marina where we live will also put us in the mood. Bill and I keep a running list of “loves” we discover about one another while listening and we use these to plan dates and surprise one another with romantic gifts and activities.
“You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way” (1 Peter 3:7, NASB).
On the TV show “Sherlock” (and in the classic books), Sherlock Holmes wows the audience by his keen detective skills of observation. You can become a detective and easily observe what will bless and ignite your spouse:
• What raises stress in your partner? — Then plan to lower it.
• What lifts the spirit? — Then plan to repeat it.
• What calms the atmosphere? — Then recreate it.
• What things are collectible? — Then add to it.
• When does he or she give a relaxing sigh? — Then repeat it.
• What draws him/her to you? — Then protect it.
“My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away” (Song of Songs 2:10, ESV).
For married couples, when it comes to intimacy, don’t get stuck in a in a rut. Vary the romance. In our book, Red Hot Monogamy, inspired by the King and Bride in Song of Songs, we give over 200 red hot romance ideas. In Song of Songs, we see a couple who make time together a priority. They do simple romantic gestures, like taking a walk, but they also go out of their way to add some fun to their relationship.
Listen! My beloved! Behold, he is coming, Climbing on the mountains, Leaping on the hills! My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, he is standing behind our wall, He is looking through the windows, He is peering through the lattice.
In this passage (Song of Songs 2:8-9), she has been waiting for the King to return home. As she spots him in the distance, she pictures him as a young stag, running toward her. Then the King adds to the welcome-home romance. Instead of walking in the front door, he is raising the anticipation by “standing behind the wall,” then zipping over to “look through the window.” Then he hops again to “peer through the lattice” in a kind of cat and mouse “Honey, I’m home” game.
One of the easiest ways to vary the experience is to keep the five senses in mind. Vary the places you date, mix the style from dressy to down to earth. Or try adding new sounds or music, scents, textures or tastes. If you go to dinner each Thursday, next week eat it on the rooftop or on a blanket at the park. If you usually work out as a couple, then make the next date a payoff — get some new athletic wear and try out a new sporting activity.
“You are a garden spring, A well of fresh water, And streams flowing from Lebanon.” “Awake, O north wind, And come, wind of the south; Make my garden breathe out fragrance, Let its spices be wafted abroad. May my beloved come into his garden and eat its choice fruits!” (Song of Songs 4:15-16).
Songs of Songs is written in the figurative language to protect young readers. There are many places that make use of a double entendre like this passage where gardening terms are really an invitation to lovemaking.
To extract love, take an old idea and give it a new spin. Personalize it, shake it up, add to it. For example, because we are relationship communicators, we are usually busy around Valentine’s Day. One year, we had to be at the NRB (National Religious Broadcasters) conference. No offense to those in Christian radio, but the NRB isn’t the most romantic place to be around on Valentine’s Day.
To bring in the romance, my husband, Bill, scanned the covers of all the books we had written to that date and made a series of greeting cards with personal love messages that used the titles as a part of a romantic pun, like “It has been ‘Pure Pleasure’ being marriage to you” or “It’s been a ‘Marriage in the Whirlwind,’ but what a fun adventure life is with you!” Every hour all day, he gave me a card with a new message and tiny gift.
L.O.V.E: Listen, Observe, Vary and Extract to create a love to look forward to living. It is possible to keep love as red hot as those candy hearts you munch on each Valentine’s Day — it just takes a little creativity and some L.O.V.E.