American couples spend billions each Valentine's Day. Romantic cards, candy, flowers, candlelit dinners and even expensive jewelry — are these what true romance is all about? I'm not knocking such gestures, and this year I'll likely buy some items on that list. But these things are mere romantic tokens. Gifts and dinner dates can enhance romance, but they do not define romance. Some couples fail to understand its essence and have instead replaced the heart of romance with symbolic tokens and obligatory outings.
Proverbs 5:18-19 aptly describes the heart of romance: "Rejoice in the wife of your youth .... May you always be captivated by her love" (NLT). True romance is more about being captivated by your spouse than buying flowers or chocolate. Captivation is all about curiosity and interest — being allured by your spouse.
When I was first dating Erin, getting to know her was fascinating. We spent hours talking about her feelings, thoughts, beliefs, opinions, fears, desires, needs, hopes and dreams. However, after we'd been married for a few years, we encountered a romance buster — we became accustomed to each other. We gradually stopped asking questions and started believing that we knew everything there was to know about each other.
Here's the great news: Romance and passion don't have to naturally fade. I learned to nurture romance by renewing my mindset daily. I changed my attitude from seeking comfort in the familiar to remaining curious. When I pursue staying current with Erin's inner world, I'm captivated by her feelings, needs, fears, hopes and dreams, which is the very stuff that I spent hours learning about during our dating, engagement and early marriage years.
True romance is a deep, lifelong fascination with your mate. As you renew your curiosity, your wife or husband will seem even more alluring. Your spouse and your marriage relationship are always changing; there's something new to discover every day. Being a lifelong student of your spouse and learning all you can about her or him is the most romantic gift you will ever give on any day of the year.Dr. Greg Smalley is vice president of Marriage and Family Formation at Focus on the Family and the author of several books, including Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage.