By Nancy Fagan, Author of "The
Complete Idiot's Guide To Romance"
No two people showed their
love more than Jim and Della in the story of The Gift of the Magi by
O. Henry. If you don't remember the story, it was about a poor couple
at Christmas. The only two possessions of value in their home were
Della's long, beautiful hair and Jim's watch that had once been his
grandfather's. As the story goes, Della sells her hair to buy Jim a
chain for his watch, and Jim sells his watch to buy Della combs for
her hair. This story is about giving for the sake of love, even if you
have to sacrifice the one thing you treasure the most.
The Gift of the Magi illustrates what this article is about: romantic
gestures. A romantic gesture is a physical way to show your partner
you care. The important aspect of the gesture isn't its grandness or
cost. The intent behind the gesture is the true present. Romance boils
down to making the extra effort, even when you think you don't have
the time or the energy to show your love. This is especially true when
children are added to your love life.
To make it a successful transition, all you need to do is learn a few
final points about how to keep your romance alive by paying attention
to the little things. Everyday gestures of love show your partner how
much you appreciate him or her-as a partner, in addition to being a
parent-and demonstrate that the relationship is a top priority. When
you learn how to protect your investment in your relationship, you and
your partner will bask in the rewards of a romantic life together.
Make Your Partner a Part of Your Life
One day over lunch, Bridget told her friend that she felt as though
she and her husband of 12 years were just strangers living together
under the same roof. They got along like two roommates, or co-parents,
without any problems, but something was missing. Bridget reminisced
about how close she and her husband had once been and had no idea when
things changed. She missed the closeness and had no idea how to get it
back. Her friend sympathized with her because she felt the same way
about her husband, too.
These two women share a very common problem in long-term
relationships. Fortunately, this problem is easily fixed: Just
remember to make your partner a part of your life.
When a relationship passes the honeymoon
stage and into the comfortable stage, people often stop sharing things
with their partners. This tendency is a normal process of growing
closer. People just get busy in their normal routine and don't take
the time to share like they did early in their relationship. The
remedy is to devote a certain time every day to share the highs, lows,
passions, frustrations, memories, hopes, and everything else you go
through every day. Keeping the lines of communication open will keep
the romance burning bright in your relationship, and that's the key to
feeling close to your partner.
Knowing someone takes a lifetime, so you need to keep the lines of
intimate conversation going. These important conversations will
prevent the two of you from ever feeling like strangers living
Encourage these conversations by reserving nightly time together
before you fall asleep to have talk time. You don't have to verbally
arrange a time to talk-it's better to keep it casual by creating a
habit of talking each night. Talk time isn't a time for serious
discussions or conversation about the children; it's more a time for
relaxed, fun conversation to get to know each other better. The
following are some good questions for you to ask your partner at talk
Tell me about your favorite pet when
you were a child.
Who has been your best friend the longest?
What's a holiday tradition that you like/dislike?
When you are old, what will be the highlight of your life?
If you could be the creator of any invention throughout time, what
would it be?
Tell me about your first day in high school.
What are your favorite smells of each season?
Keeping Life Balanced
In most couples today, both people have careers. Dual-career couples
often experience an increase in relationship stress and a decrease in
the amount of time they have for each other. As long as the
relationship is well-organized, and nothing unexpected comes up, work
and relationships run smoothly. However, life usually doesn't work
Couples must keep their lives in balance. If they don't, their
relationships will suffer. You won't fall out of love just because
you're a workaholic. But continually putting your other
responsibilities ahead of your relationship means that you and your
partner will pay in terms of emotional neglect for each other's needs.
Get a sitter if you need some time alone. Take a sick day to put your
relationship back in good health. Do what's necessary to balance the
needs of your life with the needs of your relationship.
Making Your Dreams Come True
Too often obligations in life keep you from maintaining the closeness
you originally sought in your relationship. You can combat this by
focusing on sharing your life with your partner.
Real romance isn't about flowers and candy, it's about daily
expressions of love. It's about your commitment to your partner and
the actions that prove your commitment. Expressing love is not about
the big things you do for your mate, but the small things. These
little gestures make your partner feel appreciated, cared for, and
special. For those times when you don't feel up to giving, just
remember that it's hard to have a vibrant, growing relationship with
someone when you are more deeply committed to something else.
Even if you aren't comfortable expressing your love, you still need to
do it. Be realistic; it's all right if you start out slow. The point
is to start. In a great country song called "Me Too," a husband
struggles to tell his wife he loves her, but he can only manage to
say, "Me too." Of course, she urges him to say, "I love you," but he
can't. To reassure her, he talks about all the things he does to say
"I love you," but she misses all of them.
Let this song be a reminder that sometimes your partner may be trying
his best to show you he loves you. Sadly, some people find it
difficult to express their love verbally. But this difficulty does not
mean they do not show their love in other ways. You just have to learn
the ways your partner shows you he cares. Just think of how good it
will make your partner feel to know you see how he expresses his love
for you. Every effort either of you make to be romantic and to show
Make your relationship a top priority in your life by keeping your
full attention on it. Relationships don't stay strong and happy
because of mere proximity. Instead, your relationship is happy because
you care enough to make it work.