05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

In REAL Life, Romance Isn't Just a Happy Accident

Have you been to a wedding lately? Was there a videographer asking guests to give advice to the newly wedded couple on camera - words of wisdom to ensure them a long and happy life together? It's a common component and, if the couple is lucky, the advice they receive will actually be helpful.

In contrast, most romance novels focus on the hero and heroine meeting in a memorable way, sparring through their relationship, and eventually coming to the conclusion that they cannot live without each other. And then the book ends.

Um… what now?

The "happily ever after" is glossed over and assumed. But in real life, the work has just begun. This is one reason why I like writing trilogies: I get to explore the first rocky years of marriage between Mr. and Ms. Perfect-For-Each-Other. And if the books ring true, there is plenty of conflict.

So what is the best advice for keeping the romance in a marriage? Every long-married couple will have a different answer, but because this is my blog post I get to give you mine: Never. Stop. Dating.

My husband and I were married in July of 1977. On our honeymoon we promised each other that, no matter what our circumstances, we would escape for at least 24 hours every summer to celebrate our anniversary. Our second year, I left a nursing baby behind with frozen breast milk. By our tenth year, 3-month-old baby #4 came with us and slept in the hotel room while we had dinner downstairs.

As our children grew, our times away lengthened to two nights. In the meantime we hired a sitter and went out at least twice a month. Dinner, a movie, or a trip to the emergency room for a broken toe (not kidding) all provided chances to talk about out lives and reconnect as the hero and heroine of our own lives.

I have talked to so many couples who haven't spent a night alone since their children were born. Seriously??? You were lovers before you were parents. Those children are going to grow up and leave; you had better still be lovers when they do. If you aren't, the later years of your life - years which should be your most productive and exciting - might be miserable instead. Or the marriage might end.

No one wants to start over and find themselves dating at 55, do they? It was bad enough at 25 when things were, uh, firm.

If you didn't begin your married life this way, it's not too late to start. Trade children's overnights with a friend so both couples can have the opportunity to experience romance. Trust me, your kids will have a blast. So will you!

Go to a local hotel during low season and take advantage of discounted rates. We always ate dinner at the hotel's restaurant because not getting back in the car made us feel like we were out of town; in actuality, we were only 5 miles from our house.

Then get creative… Shave your pubic hair into a heart. Or dye it. Use temporary tattoos in fun places. Don't wear underwear to dinner. Cut a little bit loose. Surprise your spouse in a good way.

Whatever you do, focus on your partner. Talk about your life together. Have amazing sex at least twice. Remind each other why you couldn't live without them. And talk about the future you plan to share.

Love your hero.

Be his heroine.

"Happily ever after" can be the beginning of your own story.


derekd said...

Great article Kris. I can't tell you how much I agree with you. Sounds like you are focused on the right things.

Ilona Fridl said...

Kris, you are so right! After being married almost 39 years, we are still in love. When the children moved out we were still going places and doing things. It's important to marry a friend and lover.

Sarah Raplee said...

I agree whole-heartedly, Kris! The relationship between the parents is the foundation of a family. Nurture that relationship.

I like the fact that your books follow the lives of a couple into their first years of marriage. As you said, there's still plenty of conflict and work to be done!

Great post!

Terri Reed said...

Very good advice. My husband and I try to get away though it doesn't happen as often as we'd like. We'll be empty nesters in about five years so I know we have to ramp up the quality time we spend alone now so its not such a shock when both kids are out of the house.

Judith Ashley said...

Kris, The work really does begin after "I Do" is said. Relationships between people takes commitment, dedication, and perseverance. I spent 30 years working in adoptions and wrote over 300 home studies. Two of my questions to assess the strength of the marriage were 1) How do you handle conflict as a couple. 2) What do you do as a couple (no children, pets, etc. around/along).

It was always a warning flag when the children still slept in the same room or even same can you be lovers (or very creative lovers) if you've a 2 year old sleeping next to you!

Paty Jager said...

Kris, I couldn't agree more. The best thing my mom did for me when we had young children was keep them several times a year to my husband and I could have us time. I try to do that for my kids.

I also agree with keeping the fire burning. Some great ideas. ;)

Fun post!

Kris Tualla said...

Thanks for your wisdom & support! I wasn't near a computer this week and couldn't comment on that day, but I am glad to hear romance is alive and well in "real life"!

Shannon said...

Kris what a wonderful post! Loved it and it is soooo true.