Monday, February 11, 2013


Welcome back to Scott Means for this month's MARRIAGE MONDAY. At Hope at Home we believe that giving attention to our marriages can only be a blessing to our children. Scott and Jenni are part of Northlands Church and the Hope at Home Team. Many of you will remember Scott from Hope at Home 2011 and 2012, and from his excellent marriage blog, Journey to Surrender.

Do you scoff or cringe at the thought of Valentine’s Day? 
“Who has time and energy for romance? Certainly not me!”
photo credit: evdoha /
I get it that life is crazy sometimes (okay, honestly, most times). There are always so many things bidding for our time, attention and energy. 
Still, I implore you not to write off this season of your life as a romance free era. I know it’s tempting to think that there will be more time to focus on the intimacy in your marriage later on. But the truth is that later never comes. Trust me, I know.
My wife, Jenni, and I have been married more than 30 years, and still our crazy-busy life has a tendency to infringe on the time and effort we give to romancing each other. That is just the day and age we live in.
Romance on a Time and Energy Budget
The thing is, you can romance your spouse without a huge effort. In fact, I often say that little love expressions, done consistently, will have a bigger impact on your relationship than grandiose expressions done only once in a while. 
But here’s the deal: husbands and wives typically have vastly different needs when it comes to love expressions. That whole Mars and Venus thing is pretty true. Wives typically have a desire to feel cared for and emotionally connected and enjoy romantic displays of affection. Husbands, on the other hand, want to feel respected, admired and appreciated and to be shown physical displays of affection. 
So you have to try to give love, not in the way you want it expressed to you, but in the way your spouse wants it expressed. That can be a hard adjustment to make!
Here’s my little love expression list for husbands – in wife-language. 
  • Put a little note on the dash of her car that says “I’m thankful that you are my wife.”
  • Prepare her coffee or tea. As you hand it to her say “I added extra love.”
  • Text her and say “I can’t stop thinking of how much I love you.”
  • Invite her to have lunch with you, if that is possible for your work situation.
  • On your way home from work, buy her a small treat you know she’ll enjoy for tomorrow’s breakfast.
  • When you get home from work, hold her extra long. Say “this is the best part of my day so far.”
  • Offer to rub her feet or shoulders while you are watching TV.
  • Pour her a glass of wine, ask her about her day, and really listen.

Here is my list for wives, in husband-language: 
  • Tell him how much you appreciate how hard he works to provide for the family. Acknowledge the sacrifices he makes on your behalf.
  • Ask his opinion about something and follow his suggestion, even if you don’t agree. Note: don’t ask him unless you are willing to take his advice.
  • Tell him you want to make him something special for dinner as a show of appreciation. Ask him what he would like to have, and make it for him.
  • Don’t correct him for a whole day – not even once (unless it involves life or death). Be aware of every time you are tempted to do so.
  • Give him a serious 15 second kiss, and tell him how handsome he is. Yes, ladies, your husband needs to know he is attractive to you.
  • Tell him something he does that really turns you on (something not explicitly sexual).
  • Wrap your arms around him and tell him how happy you are to be married to him and why.
None of these take a lot of time or effort, but all of them say “I love you” loud and clear. These things are not hard to do, but all of them help to build an atmosphere of romance in your marriage. The key is to do them consistently. 

Date-In Valentines Day Ideas
So what about the big V-Day? 
Maybe you want to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year but a night out just isn’t in the cards: sitters unavailable, adopted child not home long enough yet to leave, budget too tight, getting fixed up just sounds exhausting, or whatever. Because going out always takes more time, energy and money, why not try doing a date at home
I have a few low effort date-in ideas to share with you.  These were part of my latest Pathways Newsletter, the monthly email digest on all things related to intimacy in your marriage. (If you want to subscribe to my newsletter, click here. For signing up you also get my free e-book, The 14-Day Intimacy Challenge.) 
I gave husbands the idea to set up a romantic bed-picnic. It is a great date-in plan that can be even more romantic and fun than an expensive meal out. 
“Tell her days in advance to be available after the kids are in bed on Valentine’s day, but don’t give away any more than that. In the morning of the day, give her an invitation to dinner. If you have a little bit of computer savvy, print up an invitation to a romantic picnic - in bed...”
Read the rest of my bed picnic idea and dozens of other romantic suggestions in the February Husband’s Romance Edition of my newsletter.
A date-in idea I gave the wives is to set up an indoor “beach party” after the kids are tucked into bed.
“What you’ll need: bathing suits, beach towels, bright lamps (simulated sunshine), a space heater, a little beach music, coconut oil, and some cold drinks. Beach lounge chairs can add a bit of fun and comfort too. 
“Have him wait (or better yet have him put the kids to bed) while you set up your bedroom, or another room, for the beach party. Heat the room up nice and toasty, spread out the beach towels and pour the drinks…”
You’ll find more details on this idea and many more romantic ideas in the February Wife’s Romance Edition of my newsletter. 
Conversations and Connections
Keeping the romance alive in your marriage requires an intimate connection. Intimacy is all about knowing and being known by your spouse. The best way to do that is through conversation. However, for many husbands, myself included, deep conversation is not their strong suit. 
So for Valentine’s Day, both my newsletters featured a great tool for building intimacy through romantic conversation. Go ahead and download my “20 Questions for Romantic Connections.” Print it out, and keep it handy. Spend a few minutes each day (or every few days) filling in the lists together and connecting over questions like “20 Dream Dates” or “20 Places We Want to See.” 
It’s a fun and easy way to build intimacy. 

Regardless of what you decided to do about Valentine’s Day, I want to encourage you not to wait for an easier time to work on building and maintaining the intimacy in your marriage. Every little bit of effort you put toward it today will pay huge dividends in the future. 

Come on over to our FACE BOOK PAGE and enjoy daily encouragement and community with other adoptive and foster parents, and those who are called to come alongside. 

1 comment:

  1. Great suggestions, Scott. I enjoyed the ideas. I think I'm going to do a variation on the "I'm thankful you're my wife," note and stick it on his dash.