Relearning romance
September 1, 2006 7:16 AM   Subscribe

Help me re-learn how to romance my wife.

I am in a very happy relationship of nearly 20 years (dated for 10, married for 10). Recently our sex life has picked up a bit in intensity and playfulness, but my wife expresses that it would be even better if there were more romantic build-up, just little things to get her in the mood. However I am at a loss for how to do this any more. We're both around 40 and with jobs and a kid. I love her dearly and want to romance her. But I just can't come up with gestures that don't seem trite or obvious. I don't want to do things that are simply precursors to having sex--I genuinely want to sprinkle little romantic flourishes over her day. I even feel lame for having to ask. Mefites, any suggestions? Ladies (or gents), what are some little things your partners do that send you (or would send you) head over heels?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (28 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
clean the house
posted by maloon at 7:22 AM on September 1, 2006

Text messages. Hidden notes. A flower in her car in the morning. Set her car radio/cd player to a romantic song. Don't underestimate gentle touches, kisses on the neck, that sort of thing. Clean the house, or other chores that she usually does, frees her up for enjoying the sex.

Also, for me, a lot of my husband romancing me is about what he DOESN'T do. No groping, poking, giggling, loud bodily functions, or other things that he knows annoy me.
posted by dpx.mfx at 7:27 AM on September 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

Little notes left around are totally great.

Doing a chore she hates to do.

Bascially, anticipating either a need and taking care of that need before she has to deal with it (making dinner as a surprise, getting gas for her car, etc.), or a small surprise like a note to show you're thinking of her.
posted by agregoli at 7:33 AM on September 1, 2006

Do you remember how you acted when you first fell in love? Do that. Also: meaningful gazes.
posted by libraryhead at 7:33 AM on September 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

After going through a rough spot about 1 year ago, I've been attempting this very thing with my wife. I have to say that it has been quite successful. I don't know if it will work for you, but this is how I've done it, and it has made a significant change for the better in our relationship.

My wife recently quit her managerial job to become a stay-at-home mom for our 4 kids. Apparently the stress is about the same, so getting rid of the kids for an evening out every 2-3 weeks is essential.

I'm not good at remembering to do this type of thing, so I put them on my calendar at work and make all the arrangements from my office, just like it's part of my business day. When the reminder pops up, I arrange reservations and babysitters. I also have randomly sprinkled flower deliveries and small gifts for her throughout the month - usually one little something or a date every week. Once a month, I plan something bigger, like taking her to a ballet or theater show.

I try to compliment her whenever the opportunity arises and to touch her in a non-sexual way regularly. Apparently women are against being groped whenever you walk by - it only took me about 10 years to learn that.

Finally, I read something here on Metafilter that went like, "watching you take care of the kids is foreplay for her." So, when I get home, I try to help out with the kids and regular household chores. It's easy to let her continue to handle everything like she has all day, but I resist the urge.

Luckily, my wife is gorgeous and smokin' hot, so all of this is easy for me. It's very rewarding to see her happy.
posted by CRS at 7:37 AM on September 1, 2006 [6 favorites]

My boyfriend went through this (somewhat extravagant) phase, which lasted over a year, during which he sent me flowers once (sometimes twice!) a week at work, with only occasional lapses. I became famous in the office as a result, with people constantly telling me how lucky I am, he's a keeper, etc.

The flowers made me feel good and know that he was thinking of me, and they also made think of him all the time during the day. Plus, there is something to be said for the public display; not only did I feel special in my boyfriend's eyes, but also in the eyes of the people I worked with, which was a nice ego boost. Furthermore, I saw HIM through their eyes, too, with all the "He's so sweet" comments, which made me appreciate him even more than I would have otherwise. In fact, our whole relationship felt somehow charmed and special.

Of course, the danger of this approach is that, when he tapered off ultimately, everyone though we'd broken up and I got to missing my weekly splash of color. But all in all it was fun and definitely made me swoon.
posted by tentacle at 7:40 AM on September 1, 2006

Read this.

Preferrably with your wife. You'll both learn the primary way you both receive and therefore naturally give out love. Chances are that you both don't have the same primary love "languages," but learning how the other person most experiences love (be it through gifts, words of affirmation, etc.) is invaluable.

There's nothing more loving than to intentionally love someone in the way that you know they will most feel loved, especially if its not in the way that you're naturally inclined to love them, if that makes any sense.

That said, you're looking for romanticism, which can be a completely different thing, so disregard my comments if they're not what you're looking for.
posted by allkindsoftime at 8:10 AM on September 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

agregoli wrote: anticipating a need and taking care of that need before she has to deal with it

Yes yes yes!!! For me, that is way more on point than flowers, though flowers are nice. And yes to flirty text messages.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:21 AM on September 1, 2006

Don't feel lame! Thinking about how to actively work on keeping your relationship strong is already romantic! As others have said, anticipating your wife's needs and desires and then making some out-of-the-ordinary effort to meet them -- swoonworthy. Knowing, really knowing her -- not only as a member of the couple or an extension of you -- is sexy. You're a good husband.
posted by thinkpiece at 8:50 AM on September 1, 2006

fresh squeezed orange juice in the morning.

cleaning my car.

Warming up my car for me in the morning.

Gassing up my car.

Massages with out expecting sex after.

Do a couple loads of laundry.

Pick up take out so she doesnt have to cook (if she does).

If you are at the grocery store pick pick up a magazine on a subject she likes.
posted by beccaj at 8:55 AM on September 1, 2006

Getting suggestions from here is a good idea; a laser-like focus on what SHE would like, based on your better-than-anyone-else knowledge of HER, is a better idea.
posted by amtho at 9:05 AM on September 1, 2006

clean the house

oh my god yes. Of course, you'll know best if this will work for your wife, but a theme that's been popping up in several comments is : do something that reduces her workload. The best way to facilitate fantasy in my house is to reduce the demands of reality. A trail of rose petals to a bedroom filled with candles is romantic, sure. But dinner on the table followed by a spotless bedroom with clean fresh sheets (and maybe one or two roses) is fantastic. It immediately frees up that corner of the mind that's worrying incessently about all the stuff that needs doing.

Also - I too think it's rather romantic you're thinking about this and asking for ideas.
posted by synapse at 9:10 AM on September 1, 2006

My wife is a teacher so her mobile is turned off all day plus she usually gets home from work before me, so it is really easy to leave the ocassional voice mail message on her mobile or the work phone to just to say hello or to inquire how her day was going. That's pretty easy to do.
posted by mmascolino at 9:14 AM on September 1, 2006

A word of warning when anticipating the need to do the laundry for your wife. She will not be turned on by the fact that you just shrunk her favorite sweater down to Barbie size.

I might be speaking from experience here :)
posted by COD at 9:21 AM on September 1, 2006

gestures that don't seem trite or obvious

Know what? Don't worry about that. You don't necessarily need quirky, elaborate ways of romancing her. Flowers, notes, compliments and all that are trite and obvious for a reason - they work! She's not likely to give you a grade based on originality; instead, she'll read whatever gesture you make as "He didn't have to do that, and he did anyway. He was thinking of me when I wasn't there."
posted by Miko at 9:21 AM on September 1, 2006

Tell her when you think she's beautiful, in specifics or generalities, or both. I'm seconding meaningful gazes and anticipating needs and taking care of them before she even has a chance to think of them. When I get home and someone's done the dishes or taken the trash out or swept the floor I feel so ! And sometimes really small gifts are mind blowing if they show you've been listening to her--if you hear her mention something that interests her and then finding an extension for that. Things that show you remember and know her, and want to.

And smile at her! Hold her hand.
posted by ifjuly at 9:35 AM on September 1, 2006

Totally agree with Miko. Trite and obvious are the bedrock of romance. All that really matters is that it is something she likes and appreciates, and that it demonstrates you are thinking about her.
posted by nanojath at 9:50 AM on September 1, 2006

The way to avoid being trite with women is to spend time thinking about what it is you like about them instead of what what you think they might like, especially if your definitions are based on cliches. Also, you can observe and even ask what she likes. Just don't be so obvious about what you are asking about. Also, look her in the eyes all of the time. Seems sort of obvious and dumb, but it works.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:08 AM on September 1, 2006

Each of these ideas are romantic gestures that someone did for me, or that I did for someone else, and all were very much appriciated:

Mail a poem to your sweetie at her work address, bring home a special little treat for her (simple cookies or ice cream might be as appriciated as a fancy box of chocolates), after she goes to sleep - draw a heart with your names inside of it in chalk outside the front door for her to notice on her way to work in the morning, give back rubs, wash the dishes, smooch the back of her neck while she's washing dishes, sing a goofy love song into her voicemail box or answering machine, draw a picture of you two together (even stick figures with name labels are pretty cute) and leave it in her bag or on her desk or pillow, take a bath together, rub her feet with oil, paint her toenails, let her paint your toenails, tell her how beautiful she is, dance with her to the radio.
posted by serazin at 10:08 AM on September 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

I personally don't like the idea of receiving flowers. The idea of flowers being picked just to be on display for me and then die is kind of horrifying to me. However, many women seem to enjoy it, and that's fabulous for them. If you need a change, however, and your wife isn't really conscious about her weight, try a candy bouquet. My boyfriend sent me one covered in chocolate and raspberry candies [my favourites!], and it was a big hit. It did all the things flowers do--made me famous at work, made me feel special, etc, and the best part was that I got to share my happiness with my coworkers in the form of giving them little candies. It was great, and it didn't feel nearly as selfish as flowers. However, it cost him about 75$, so it might not be something you can do on a regular basis.
posted by starbaby at 10:42 AM on September 1, 2006

Give sincere compliments.

I love Becca's idea of taking the initiative to wash her car, gas the car up, etc. On a Saturday morning drive her car through the wash, gas it up, and bring home fresh coffee, a muffin or croissant, and a bouquet of flowers. Of course women can take responsibility for their own car maintenance, but it's nice if you can do it for her.

Go for a long walk on Saturday morning. Go downtown/farmer's market/park/beach and hold her hand.
Tell her your heart skipped a little when she walked through the door.

Suggest a recipe to cook together, open a bottle of wine, put on some music, and have fun in the kitchen. Set the table with candlelight.

Make a mental note of her likes and interests. If she mentions that she heard a great song on the radio, buy the CD and surprise her.

A lot of men leave the social planning up to women. Make reservations at a restaurant, tell her you made plans and are taking her to dinner and a movie/show/dancing, etc. on Saturday night.
posted by LoriFLA at 10:48 AM on September 1, 2006

I want to re- and over-emphasize allkindsoftime's suggestion of checking out the Five Love Languages book. It will absolutely blow your mind out of the water on the clues to find out exactly what gets her motor running and looking at you in that way she did before, as well as give you the clues to figure out what really does it for even yourself, if you don't already know. I can't stress how incredible that book is. Practically every question that shows up on MeFi about getting relationships back on track mentions this book, and it really does have the keys to do just that. Seriously.
posted by vanoakenfold at 11:47 AM on September 1, 2006

There was a guy at my last job who got amazing, very very simple, hand-designed flower bouquets from his guy.

There were only a few things in it- two stalks of wheat, a ginger flower, and something else for instance- so it couldn't have cost a fortune, but they were amazing.

If you decide to get her flowers, they don't have to be a dozen roses. Something simpler and more her is better.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:12 PM on September 1, 2006

somewhere once, i read or heard in the context of a ficitronal romantic scene someone say "i want to be the first person you look for when you walk into any room."

for me, something that is the equivalent of that is the only romantic gesture that would move me. again, for me, this translates into hearing "you know, so&so at work said blah and i thought about that time you said blahblah and it just made me think how much more interesting blah is when i'm talking about it with you." from the boyfriend or having him pick up a book he knows i've been meaning to read or just having him hold my hand when we're on the bus. little notes, flowers, whatever, these are nice and romantic, but the point is knowing that he notices me when i'm there and--more importantly--notices when i'm not.

you're going to know best how to show your wife that you think about her when she's not around and that, when she is, you still think she's the most wonderful thing in your life.

i am of the opinion that these sorts of threads are useless (and i usually refrain from reading or commenting in them, but today, i'm bored) because there is no-one who can answer it except your wife and at least 50% of the suggestions are things that will do nothing for her or make her grumpy. doing my laundry? more likely to annoy me. changing the sheets? you sleep in them, it shouldn't be a surprise and wonderful gesture that you've changed them. massages make me tense, and i don't drink orange juice.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:19 PM on September 1, 2006

Useful insight of the day:

Apparently women are against being groped whenever you walk by.

Have you tried asking your wife what she thinks is romantic?
posted by betterton at 1:55 PM on September 1, 2006

Notes. (An ex once left a little post-it note with something romantic on it in my wallet. I left it there until the relationship ended, five years later.)

An email simply saying "I love you". A quick phone call to just see how her day is going.

Little things that show you're paying attention. She wants/likes a particular book? Make sure she has it, or another from the same author or in the same vein. Collects something? Get her little things that fit into that collection.

After this long you really should know what she likes. You wooed her once, surely you can do so again. :) Make her feel like you don't take her for granted in any way. Ask her to dinner as though you don't think that she's always there, always available.

Also - what libraryhead said. :)

FWIW, cleaning the house would thrill me, but it wouldn't be seen as a romantic gesture. A very ~caring~ one, but not romantic
posted by Meep! Eek! at 8:16 PM on September 1, 2006

Gotta sign on to LoriFLA's post.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:17 PM on September 1, 2006

FYI -- The Five Love Langauges is written by an evangelical Christian, who advertises his ideas as "biblical marriage counseling." Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it's an important aspect of the book that its reccomenders are leaving out.
posted by eustacescrubb at 2:03 PM on September 3, 2006

« Older Don't Worry - I'm a web 2.0 developer -- where...   |   Python or Ruby for learning to program? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.