Dr. Val Farmer
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Rural Mental Health & Family Relationships

Short Course On Romance For Men

January 30, 2006

What is romance?

The code of chivalry. In the days of the knights, it was to curry favor by lavishing personal attention, gifts or flattery upon a woman. It was gracious courtesy and high-minded consideration shown by a gentleman to a lady.

To be romantic was to be patient. The object was to win her heart by grand and obvious expressions of love for as long as it took. Affection wasn't expressed or expected until he won her heart. Romance was heroic. If necessary, the knight engaged in brave deeds - at some risk to himself to prove his single-minded pursuit and dedication to the object of his desire.

The lady-in-waiting had her own code of courtesy as the pursued. She took a feminine and passive role in giving gentle and gradual encouragement to her suitor. It was an evolving love story that stood the test of both dragons and time.

The niceties were observed. Courtship rituals created an aura of anticipation and heightened the emotional attraction. This relationship was different and had promise. Romance was mysterious. The entreated woman didn't know what surprising gesture or act the suitor would take to prove his love. He undertook to get her attention in a way she wouldn't forget.

The notion of romance makes courtship an exciting time. It is also fraught with doubt and anxiety. As modern as we think we are, it is amazing how big a hold traditional romantic notions have on our emotions.

Romance after marriage. Husbands, how can you keep romance alive long after the anxiety of courtship and the glow of the honeymoon wear off? Think to yourself, "What surprising thing can I do to make my loved one feel cherished and special today?"

Romance is a thoughtful surprise. You remind your marriage partner of how much you admire, love and appreciate her.

Feeling romanced is the opposite of feeling taken for granted. It is being appreciated. It is being admired. It is being reminded of the emotional and physical attractiveness that brought you together in the first place. You didn't win her heart by being unobservant of her special qualities.

Romantic gestures are the frosting on the cake. They can be a turnoff if your daily life together doesn't have love, consideration, respect, and courtesy. Special expressions of love and attention, with compliments, intimate conversation, teamwork, and gratitude set the stage for romance to be appreciated. Forethought is better than foreplay.

Celebrate with verve. On birthdays, anniversaries and Valentine’s Day a gesture of recognition is expected. Put fanfare and gusto into the way these days are celebrated. Doing something special and treating each other with extra consideration sets them apart from routine days of stress, busyness and striving. Romance shows a willingness to sacrifice for another's happiness.

These days are when your partner is expecting a little extra thoughtfulness. Traditions are important. Show you care at traditional times when it is expected. Forgetting may create major disappointment. Cards, flowers, candy, a gift or an evening out carry the day in a delightful and satisfying manner.

To make the day extra romantic, plan a surprise along with the traditional way you celebrate. Surprises take listening and remembering. Know what she really wants, plan ahead and make sacrifices. Romance means surprising your partner with how well you know her. The effort and thought that goes into a romantic gesture is appreciated almost as much as the gesture itself.

Surprise days. Best of all are the times when you surprise your partner. The best romantics go beyond the expected times and use sporadic surprises that communicate love and appreciation. That makes a big impression! One surprising act of love and consideration once or twice a month will make both of you incurable romantics.

Romance is time away from children - like a night out once a week or a weekend getaway once every three months. Do things the way your partner would like them. Fulfill a few fantasies. Not yours - hers. Time away from children is important for women. When children are around with their usual needs, it is hard for a mother really to be free. Take responsibility for making the arrangements.

Romance can be going new places and enjoying novel experiences together. Research shows that sharing adventures together is part of the bonding experience for couples whose honeymoon years are distant memories.

Romance is a habit that can be learned. Remember that the best part of romance is catching your partner off guard. It leaves a lot to be desired when what you do is predictable and their idea. Romance isn't romance if your partner has to spell out for you exactly what to do. Be creative. Figure this out on your own or with friends.

Romance isn't a hustle to the bedroom. Those knights knew what they were doing. They won the heart before they won the body. By the time physical affection was expressed, there was no question about their feelings and commitment.

Some advice to women: Men like romance too. It may not be as expected, but it is equally gratifying to the male ego and powerful in its effect.