Suppose I’ve just taken my wife out on a date, and the next morning a friend asks me what I did last night. Guess which one of the responses below I would actually say:

“Oh, we went out to the Keg, it was great – I had one sweet tastin’ steak with all the trimmings! It was so good that Rushia tried to steal a piece. No way, all mine. Then we went to a movie – a bit of a chick flick, but Rushia liked it. Stopped at Starbucks for a coffee and latte and then off to take the babysitter home…”

“Man, I just had such a romantic night with Rushia. I took her out for a candlelight dinner. The ambiance was perfect. Casting longing gazes at each other; we nibbled caviar, lost in our love. We were one. Then off to the movie, not one of the best I’ve ever seen, but it didn’t matter – it was just nice to be with her for some uninterrupted, quality time. I feel so close to her now.”

If you guessed “A,” give yourself a point. I am a guy, after all. But how would my wife answer? Yep, “B” all the way. My point? Romance is a vital part of the female persona. Men rarely, if ever, say something like: “Oh, how romantic,” or, “My ideal woman is a true romantic.” While I really don’t have high romantic needs, my wife does. God created her with that built-in need, and He created me to meet it. So even though romance isn’t naturally a high priority for me, I need to enter into that realm for her benefit. It’s part of loving her sacrificially.

Rest assured, romance can be manly. I love this quote from John Eldredge’s book Wild at Heart: “You were created in the image of God as a man. He intentionally gave you a passionate, wild heart, and he invites you to live out what he meant it to be… a man who’s dangerous in a really good way. Your nature is hardwired with the desire for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue.”

And if that isn’t enough to inspire you, take heed: if you don’t romance your wife, someone else will. There are always other guys ready to rescue the beauty. But assuming you’re up to the challenge, here are some tips to start with.

Get a master’s degree in romancing your wife

It would be nice if romancing your special lady were as simple as buying flowers or a box of chocolates. But the reality is that every woman has her own unique tastes, likes, and dislikes. Not only that but even if she does like flowers and candy, you can only do that so often before it starts to get old. Strive for more creativity.

Furthermore, really get to know your wife; discover what ticks her off and what tickles her fancy. A gift that makes one woman swoon may be seen by another as a huge waste of money. One woman’s dream date may be another’s worst nightmare. If you want to make your wife feel loved, communicate your love in a way that she will understand and appreciate.

Okay, maybe your head is spinning after many years of trying to discern what pushes your wife’s buttons. Relax! We can help. Print out The Romance Questionaire. Write on a card a note that says, “This year I really want to learn how to be a more romantic husband. Can you please help me by answering these questions?”

Trust me; she won’t mind at all.

Don’t recreate the romance wheel

There are two types of creativity: resourcefulness and reproduction. The resourceful guy creates an experience from scratch, tailor-made for his wife. The replica man uses other people’s ideas and makes them his own. You know what they say: steal from one — plagiarism, steal from many – research! Put forth the effort to be resourceful from time to time. Your original endeavors speak volumes. Also, your unique ideas spell it out – you’re in tune with what she likes.

If the idea of resourcefulness has you sweating bullets, take heart. Some guys are just more creative than others. And even the most imaginative guy would have a very hard time devising a lifetime’s worth of romantic escapades for his wife. So take advantage of what’s already out there. Go ahead and plagiarize!

If you’re planning a nice evening out, there are many packaged deals available, especially around Valentine’s Day. For example, dinner and theatre tickets – notice I didn’t say a hockey game and a hot dog in between periods. The Internet is a treasure trove of romantic ideas – just Google “romantic ideas for men.” For day trip ideas, check out tourist brochures from your city to discover fun places to visit. If you’re looking for a longer romantic trip, consider a cruise or an all-inclusive resort.

Or, rival Martha Stewart with this creative idea – free of charge! Items needed:

On a warm summer day, write this note: “Meet me at the _________ dock at 10 p.m.” Put the note in an envelope with instructions to be opened at 9:30 p.m. sharp. Hand it to your wife as you leave the house in the morning, with no explanation. When she arrives at the dock, your ever-romantic self will be waiting in the old wooden rowboat with a lit candle at the bow. Row around the lake in the moonlight, stopping in the middle to drift and chat.

Don’t be afraid to glean ideas from others. In the classic novel Cyrano de Bergerac (as well as movies like Roxanne and Hitch), the main characters sought help from romance experts to help them woo that special woman. Now, I’m not suggesting that you try to deceive her as they did, but there is no harm in getting suggestions and advice from those who may be more creative than you. If you stumble over words, well, that’s what Hallmark is for. The opportunities are practically limitless. Just make sure, whatever you choose to do, that your focus is on what will make your wife smile and not on yourself.

Seize the romantic moment

While living in Northern Saskatchewan, Rushia and I loved the big, open sky. Sometimes, while driving, the shimmering Northern Lights would suddenly flood the sky. If I wasn’t thinking about myself and getting to our destination as fast and as efficiently as possible, we would take advantage of these unexpected and unforgettable wonders by pulling our car over to the side of the road to watch in awe.

Sometimes romance can happen anytime, anywhere, without any planning at all. Those spontaneous moments can be more powerful than thousands of dollars spent on a gift or a trip.

Spontaneity can be as simple as noticing your wife had a hard day – take her out for dinner. Or, if a romantic song comes over the radio, act on impulse and dance together in the kitchen. Make a comment about how great she looks in that outfit. Savor a nice sunset or a starry sky. These moments happen all the time, but usually, we’re too preoccupied or focused to notice them.

You don’t always have to be a Casanova, spending hours (and money) plotting the perfect moment. All you have to do is keep your eyes open, watch for opportunities, and be flexible enough to take advantage of them.

Every stroke of romance paints a picture

A single act of romance may seem a little insignificant on its own. After all, how much difference can one bouquet of flowers make in a relationship as complicated as marriage?

Sure, if romance is an isolated event in a marriage instead of a way of life, it might not mean much. But if you are making a consistent effort to make your wife feel treasured, each romantic moment is like a single stroke in a beautiful work of art. The individual brush marks come together to paint a stunning picture. It’s a picture that tells your wife she is cherished and thought of, and that your marriage is a real priority in your life. But it’s also a picture that impacts your kids. It gives them the security of knowing that their mom and dad’s relationship is solid. It teaches your sons how to treat a woman and give them value. It sets the standard for your daughters, encouraging them not to settle for a guy who doesn’t treat them right. In short, romancing your wife is a critical part of the legacy you will leave for your children.

Check your attitude at the door

I’ve been an athlete all my life, so I’ve heard it said by coach after coach, “Check your attitude at the door.” In a team sport that means it’s not all about me. There’s something bigger going on here, and I need to take the focus off myself and concentrate on the higher goal. The same thing goes with romance. Our motivation needs to be in the right place. Let me put it plainly: romance is not all about the desired end result (i.e., sex). Approaching romance from a selfish perspective is a dead-end street.

We need to focus on what we’re giving, not what we’re getting. The objective is not simply to give my wife just enough so that she gives me what I want. When I married Rushia, I promised to put her needs ahead of mine, to love and value her regardless of her response. Romance is part of living out that commitment. As we do that, it will come back to us in many ways, and that’s awesome. But that’s not the primary objective.

Leave what’s behind and move toward what’s ahead

While it’s important to keep things new and fresh, traditions can also bring a sense of romance. Rather than getting stuck in a rut, doing the same thing year after year, find new ways to rekindle or enhance old traditions.

For example, instead of giving your wife a dozen roses every year for your anniversary, give her one rose for each year you’ve been married. Sure, it might get a little expensive when you hit 30 or 40 years, but not only will she love all the flowers, she’ll also be very impressed that you actually remember how many years you’ve been married. (Just don’t get it wrong!)

Also, try something outlandish from time to time. On a recent anniversary, I gave Rushia 100 roses. Yeah, it looked like I got them from a racetrack, but when she read the card listing 100 ways she has affected my life, I was a good boy.

Remember your audience

I already mentioned that I’m an athlete. As you probably know, sports teams carry with them a little tradition called initiation. When a new player joins the team, you welcome them and make them feel part of the group with some sort of ritual. It’s usually all in fun, but occasionally it gets out of hand… as it did on my honeymoon.

My new bride was taking a nice hot shower while I relaxed on the bed in our hotel room. Filled with the wonder and awe that comes with being young and in love, I really wanted to do something to welcome her to Team Klassen – something that would leave no doubt as to how glad I was to have her on board. I knew just what the occasion called for: an initiation rite! So as Rushia enjoyed her shower, blissfully unaware, I filled up a bucket with freezing cold water. I crept towards the bathroom, congratulating myself and thinking, “She is really going to love this, and she’s really going to feel part of the team!”

I reached over the top of the shower and, with a howl of glee, I welcomed Rushia to the team with a bucket of cold water over her head. I roared with laughter as I peeled out of the bathroom and waited for her to come out and show her appreciation.

And show it she did… by inviting me to sleep on the extra bed in the room that night. By myself.

My problem was, I forgot who she was. She’s not one of the guys, and I shouldn’t treat her like she is. My wife doesn’t want to be slapped on the butt, tossed a bun from across the table, or spoken to in jock talk. Most of the time, she just wants to be hugged. I must try to meet her needs and desires, which sometimes means going against my own natural instincts – especially if they involve buckets of cold water.

Just do it… now

Hey, we’re all busy. I understand that. But sacrificing our relationship with our spouse is a sure-fire way to end up in a disaster.

A great marriage is not something that can wait till later. Start small. Start today.

This article was written by: Dave Klassen

Photo Credit: Toa Heftiba