This article was originally published on nurturingmarriage.org. It has been republished here, with permission.
Do you wish your husband would surprise you with flowers or take you on moonlit strolls through the park like he did when you were dating? These five suggestions will help bring a little romance back into your marriage.
1. Start with realistic expectations
In all reality, your husband isn't Mr. Darcy. Sorry to burst your bubble. However, for all you know, he may think he is. He may very well think he's the most romantic guy in the world, not even realizing that you don't feel the same. So, take a step back and recognize all the little things he is doing — picking up his socks, taking out the garbage or carrying that huge laundry basket up the stairs. From time to time, he may even get really romantic and turn on the bath water for you or kiss you goodbye when he leaves.
The bottom line is to have realistic expectations. Your marriage may not look like a chapter out of "Pride and Prejudice," and that's okay. Be thankful for and delighted in all the little things your husband does to express his love.
2. Take the lead
Write your husband love letters and spray them with perfume. Buy a little gift for him and leave it on the seat of his car. Plan a romantic dinner at home with soft music, candles and delicious food. Email him a quote that expresses how you feel about him. Call him during your lunch break just to say "I love you." Every once in a while, make a special effort to look extra nice for him. Spend time doing the things he loves.
In all of this, don't be romantic only so your husband will return the favor. Remember, this isn't all about you. It's about showing your husband that you love him and being intentional about it.
Even with all of your efforts, your husband may not catch on to your desire for him to be more romantic. That is okay. You may need to kindly tell him the specific things you like, which leads to number three...
3. Don't be afraid to point out what you like!
If your husband gets your door while you are out on a date, be sure to express how much that means to you and what a gentleman he is. Be vocal about all the things he does that you absolutely love. If he makes a comment about how nice you smell or how beautiful you look, take a moment to give him a little kiss and tell him "thank you." When it comes to intimacy, be forthcoming about out what you enjoy. You can't expect your husband to read your mind about what romances you. Just tell him.
4. Give him opportunities to be romantic by creating the right atmosphere
Foster a romantic atmosphere by paying close attention to the time you spend with your husband. Don't let the TV, phone or computer separate you when you are in the same room. Ask your husband questions about his day. Scratch his back. Take his hand and walk him outside to watch the sunset. Don't just let him sit and watch that football game alone — snuggle up on the couch next to him and start cuddling. Flirt with him, laugh over commercials together, run your fingers through his hair.
5. Recognize what romance really looks like
Most people tend to think of romance as roses, chocolate and candlelit dinners, but perhaps the truest romance your husband offers you is his selfless love, his constant companionship and his genuine loyalty to you and your family. You see, he really is a romantic in the deepest, truest kind of way. He is your strength, your support, your best friend and your companion. You lucky woman, you. Now, go let him know how much you appreciate the incredible man that he is.
Aaron & April are the founders of Nurturing Marriage, a website dedicated to strengthening marriages. They enjoy playing football with their two little boys, watching sports, eating cereal late at night, and going out for frozen yogurt.