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Monday, September 14, 2015

Keeping the Spark Alive

I wanted to address a topic that much is written about: keeping the spark alive in a marriage or long-term relationship.

I am by no means an expert in the romance department. I used to be many, many years ago. But two divorces have left me very jaded and cynical. However, I have been trying to change that in my current relationship with Steph and get back to my romantic roots.

I am sure that what I am about to say will resonate with many men: I am often stumped for ideas as to what to do, so I tend to gravitate to the comfortable and familiar, a bouquet of flowers or dinner and a movie. But after a while this gets old and you will find your partner getting tired of the monotony. The next thing that often comes to mind is some grand gesture that is very elaborate and costs a lot of money and planning to pull off. We men want to do this grand and wonderful things for the women in our lives, but because of the amount of planning and the cost, we often find that we never get around to doing them. This is precisely why the charges of our non-romanticism coming from our partners hurt as they do - because we really do care.

So I am going to write about a thought that has recently hit me after doing much online research to find romantic ideas that would help inspire me to break the mold and show Steph how much I love her. The thought is that less is more. Simplicity rules the roost.

If you look at most lists of romantic ideas and dates that are published online the items on the lists seem to fall into two categories: elaborate and expensive and simple and not expensive. What you choose to do will of course depend on the type of partner you have. Steph has very simple tastes and is not a flashy person, so I have found that simple things seem to work very well.

The simple gestures further have one thing in common: they are all novel ways of telling her what I appreciate about her or what I love about her. You will notice that they are not simply expressions of "I love you", as that doesn't require that much thought, whereas telling her specifically what I love about her requires thought and attention. Of course you can write a simple note, but once you have done that once or twice, it can get monotonous. So a novel way to spice things up is to think of everyday objects that you can alter so that they become your messenger, or maybe not objects, but figures of speech, poems or the like that can be altered to describe your partner.

For example Steph and I like to play cards very frequently. All cards usually have a lot of white space on them. Since they get dealt, she can will look at them. So what I did last week was I went to the dollar store and bought a pack of cards and a pack of permanent felt markers for $2. Then I took the black marker and wrote on the front of all 54 cards (I included the jokers): "Chris Loves Steph Because...". Then I had to think of 54 reasons why I love Steph. It wasn't hard at all. I thought of each thing and using a different colour marker for each suit, I wrote that thing on the numeric side of the card. The whole thing took about 2 hours. Then I invited Steph to play cards. You should have seen her reaction when I dealt them out. It was priceless.

The cards were good because they were an item that has lots of parts (i.e. 54 cards) and lend themselves out well to containing a loving message. But there are others that would also be good to use for this:

1. Notebooks that get used around the house.
2. Sticky notes
3. The bathroom mirror - messages written in lipstick
4. The windshield of her car - although you have to be the one to clean it off.
5. A calendar - if there is one up on the wall somewhere in the house
6. Pieces of fruit with disposable thick outer peels like bananas
7. Towels - every considered getting a set of towels and having messages stitched on?
8. Her purse and makeup cases - putting notes in her compact so she sees it as soon as she opens it.

The key is to pick ordinary household objects that get used fairly frequently that you wouldn't expect to find love messages on and then put messages on them. The element of surprise is what makes the message extra special. Once you have chosen the medium for the message, then your work lies in composing the message. But this doesn't have to be difficult. None of the above things cost a lot of money or are difficult to plan. They key is to decide to do them regularly and incorporate them into your routine. This is what I am trying to do now, because I know if I don't, I won't get around to them.

I would also say that Steph and I don't do Valentines Day. We actually boycott it because we have noticed that the quality of services in restaurants and public venues actually plummets, while prices are jacked up sky high. Besides how romantic is it when it becomes an obligation? My thought  is that it is better to do romantic things once a week or a few times a month rather than trying to come up with something or Valentines.

I am not suggesting that you shouldn't plan elaborate things either. Even though Steph has simple tastes there are things that I have planned in my head that I want to do with her during our life together, but they are things that I would plan for special milestones in our lives, not things to do every week or every month.

Anyway those are just a few of my thoughts on romance.

This week, I put a new menu together from two cookbooks that I was given for my birthday: an Italian and a Thai cookbook. I will be writing about the better recipes over the course of the week as I make them.

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