Friday, January 30, 2009

Announcing a Valentine's Day giveaway!


To celebrate the GRAND OPENING of the ROMANCE YOUR SPOUSE blog, we've decided to do a special giveaway for you, our readers. And just in time for Valentine's Day, too!

What better way to celebrate the day than with a special date night with your spouse?

The Prize:
Restaurant gift certificate - your choice as long as it is a national chain (i.e. Chili's, Red Lobster, TGI Friday's, etc.).

How to Enter:
Post a comment on any blog post between now and midnight (central time) on February 9. We'll mail out the gift certificate on February 10, so hopefully you'll get it just in time for Valentine's Day.

The giveaway winner will be contacted by one of the RYS contributors to obtain your mailing address - please don't post it on your comment for privacy reasons.

Good luck and happy commenting!
The RYS Contributors

Thursday, January 29, 2009

One Dude's Perspective on Romance

Today we have a male guest blogger: my dear husband, Scott.

My name is Scott Stewart, and I’m a problem solver.

This has been true of me since childhood. Solving mathematical equations is actually fun for me.

A math professor once told me, “Mathematics is the science of science.” It is absolute. Feelings, assumptions, opinions and perspectives do not apply; they are irrelevant.

This is important for women to understand because I believe many guys think in this way.

When my wife comes to me wanting to discuss something, I am becoming increasingly aware that I need to discern her objective. If her objective is for me to help her with a problem she is having, AND I’m able to pick up on that, I am more than happy to offer up solutions.

However, if her real objective is to express her feelings, opinions or concerns, AND I’m able to pick up on that, I have to change modes. My role changes from problem solver to listener and supporter.

Of course, she will quickly point out that I’m not always able to determine her objective, and thus fail miserably in my role. Women are experts when it comes to the art of subtlety, and men woefully inadequate.

So what does all this mean?

Let me start by stating what’s not obvious: I love to be romantic; I love to be romanced.

I think romance is only possible because we are human, because all of us have feelings and emotions.

I’m not sure why, but it’s much easier for guys to focus on solving problems than it is to be romantic because problem-solving is concrete; we like concrete! Maybe the reason guys struggle with romance is that we just don’t have the brain capacity to understand our emotions enough to act on them.

Chalk one up for the women out there.

In sports, we can argue about the officiating when our team loses, but our team still lost. It’s easy to grasp. It’s concrete. Did our team lose? There’s no maybe and there’s no subjectivity – just YES or NO.

So, again, why do I love romance?

It seems that all I’ve said so far is that guys like me don’t have the capacity to appreciate what romance is or even why it’s important.

One of the reasons I believe in romance is because I have feelings too; sometimes suppressed, but always there. I actually do get emotional.

For example, I had a tough day at work last week and I heard John Waller’s “The Blessing” on the way home. God had a message for me that day: “Scott, life may sometimes be tough but I’m always there for you and you can lean on Me.”

He expressed that message via the airwaves by giving me that song and it was an awesome emotional experience. I was once again awed by His presence.

OK, so I have emotions and I’m actually not a robot. What does that have to do with romance?

In two words, emotional stability.

"If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy" is true. As husbands, it’s in our best interests to listen to our wives’ concerns, to keep an open line of communication, to ALWAYS be honest, and to act on our feelings by being romantic.

Any action that my wife perceives as romantic is, by definition, romantic.

When I bring flowers home for no reason, clean house while she’s away, give her a massage, fess up when I mess up, or simply listen to her with genuine interest for her well-being, these actions are all earning me points.

As these points accumulate, they are redeemed (always at her discretion): giving me the remote when the big game is on, cooking my favorite meals, listening without objection during my rants about politics, and obviously in other ways too. There are perks for being romantic!

On the other hand, if momma really ain’t happy, we lose that sense of order and stability in our lives. And we hate that. When we don’t consistently invest in our women, they may close that important line of communication with us or even lash out in anger. Whether it’s silence or violence, this indicates instability and can have devastating consequences.

We guys shouldn’t simply ignore or reject romance as irrational, unproductive or silly. We will have a fuller, more satisfying life if we embrace romance and consciously work to keep that romantic fire burning brightly. And trust me, this is not easy.

One final note. As Christians, our relationships with our spouses will necessarily impact our relationship with God.

I remember a marriage enrichment class that my wife and I took years ago, and one of the concepts we learned is that marriage is a covenant between man, woman and God.

God will unconditionally fulfill His part of the covenant. It is our responsibility to keep our end of the bargain by having both a strong marriage (spiritually, emotionally and physically) and a strong relationship with God.

If we maintain this balance, we fulfill our covenant. If we fulfill our covenant, God will do great things through our marriage.

So guys, be romantic. Love romance. It’s the Christian thing to do!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Introduction - Amy Loos

Hey! Welcome! My name is Amy Loos and I’m happy to welcome you to Romance Your Spouse. As the brainchild of Denice and Lacy, I’m glad they invited me to join in their merriment to share wisdom (cough, cough) on marriage.

I wish I could say that as the years have passed my own marital challenges have gotten easier, our romance more exciting and my husband and I have blossomed into the “perfect couple”… if there is such a thing. The truth is, I love and adore my husband. He’s my best friend and companion but he can also be one of the biggest reasons I use Clairol! Nothing like hiding those grays, girls!

Together we live life to the best of our ability, placing God first, our marriage second and our family third. We are currently raising 3 children; our daughter is a freshman in college, while our 2 boys (13, 10) keep us running noon to night with school and sports activities. We love every moment of this roller coaster ride called marriage.

Apart from my husband and kids, I’m a writer. I’ve had my work published in newsletters, articles and I currently write book reviews for Armchair Interviews. I love reading contemporary and historical Christian fiction but my own writing is contemporary, with not-so-perfect characters who lead not-so-perfect lives and who struggle to “get it right,” just like the rest of us. Don’t you just love how the real world spills over onto paper?!

Unlike Lacy, my fellow blogger who loves research, I hate it. I’d rather send hubby off to work, ship the kids off to school and spend the next 8 hours happily pounding out my storyline without ever losing momentum due to research. Yes, yes, I know, you can’t have a good story without research, but it seems such a bother, especially when your main characters won’t stop talking! And there are words to be written!

Yes oh yes, I have worked myself into many writing corners where I’ve needed to stop, go to the library or connect with the cyber world to do said necessaries.

Speaking of the real & cyber world. Let me encourage any fellow writers to get connected. I’m currently a national member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and Christian Writers Guild ( ACFW is the largest Christian fiction writing group in the U.S., so if you’ve ever considered joining a group of writers, check out their website, find a local chapter and get involved. As for Christian Writers Guild, they have wonderful writing classes and conferences to help you grow in your writing endeavor.
The support, encouragement and wisdom you’ll gain from being a member of either organization is priceless.

Ok, so that should do it for now. I’m glad you stopped by. I hope you’ll keep Romance Your Spouse listed as a favorite and we’ll see you often!

Many blessings from my home to yours ~Amy

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Introduction - Denice Stewart

Hello, everyone. My name is Denice Stewart, and I am an inspirational romance writer, unpublished so far.

At the moment, I am working on a trilogy of contemporary romances set in Grapevine, TX. I have one manuscript completed, and I am plotting the next two based on characters from the first book.

Now, about me personally.

I have been married for 10 years to my husband, Scott, and we have three rambunctious children; 5 year old twin boys, and a 1 year old little girl. The twins are ornery and the baby is just as bad. She follows her brothers everywhere, and gets into just as much trouble as they do.

So, with three small children underfoot, it’s hard (if not impossible) to find quiet moments alone with my husband.

And since we are currently a single-income family, we are also broke as a joke.

But despite these obstacles, I believe in trying to keep the romance alive in a marriage. I mean, let’s face it, marriages wither and die without the proper care. They just do.

And any number of issues can lead to a couple’s relational demise, but I have decided not to let the loss of romance in my marriage be one of them.

Besides, I’m a romance writer. I dream about it, I breathe it, I absorb it like a sponge. But admittedly, somewhere between the kids, the bills, and our hectic schedules, the romance in our marriage has fizzled.

So I decided that since I am looking for ways to spice up my own love life, and I don’t just mean in the bedroom (although we might go there, too . . . you never know!), I thought I would share with you some of my experiences, stories, tips, and other advice on how I plan to do this.

I hope you enjoy our posts, and we look forward to your comments.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Birthday Dates


My dad's birthday is coming up in two days (Happy birthday, Dad!!), and that got me thinking about birthdays, which got me thinking about birthday DATES...

We don't usually overdo things on birthdays. Hubby usually does something sweet like take me out to eat, and of course there is the gift exchange.

But my best birthday date ever was last year, when hubby took me to a bed and breakfast.

As a writer, of course I noticed everything about the setting first. It was VERY romantic. The whole place was a two story house that had been converted into several suites (there was even a smaller cottage separate from the main structure, but our room was in the main building), plus a nice communal sitting room and a gift shop.

Our room was decorated with lots of Victorian-era things. One of my favorites was a lounging couch that was just perfect to curl up on with a good book. And there was a jacuzzi tub right in the room (okay, so not quite Victorian but it was cool)!

And the king-size bed was heavenly. Let me tell you, hubby and I share a queen-size at home and he is a sleep-wrestler - lots of kicking and rolling over. I usually don't notice how much he rolls around, and haven't since probably our first six months of being married. But that king-size bed was AWESOME! I slept like a baby.

Then we got served breakfast in our room the next morning, which was very romantic. I'm not a morning person - don't get up until I HAVE to, so my breakfast is usually a granola bar on the way to work. But there was something intimate and romantic about having a sit down meal with hubby first thing in the morning. Remembering this, I may just try to start a Saturday morning breakfast ritual for us. Maybe.

I know I'll remember my birthday weekend 2008 for a long time. And the funny thing is that hubby didn't have to do THAT MUCH work to make it really romantic. He basically just made reservations and then cleared his calendar for a day and a half. But the time spent together meant a lot to me.

Wonder what he'll do for my birthday this year? It's coming up in May...

Introduction - Lacy Williams

Greetings! I am so excited to be a part of this new blogging team. Here's a little about me:

I have been married for six and a half years to my wonderful husband, Luke. We don't have any children yet, but we practice our parenting skills on our three Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Here's a pic of two out of three:


Between my husband and I, can you guess which one of us is the disciplinarian and which one is the pushover? Yep, this is a sign for how our future family is going to run. I guess it's better that I know this up front, right???

I hate housework but love climbing into bed with clean sheets on. I live in Oklahoma and have for all my life except for 1 year that I spent in Delaware. I found the Northeast a lot different and will probably always be a Midwest girl.

I am a future author. I write romance stories because I love happy endings. I love both historical and contemporary fiction, and usually my writing has at least a thread of suspense/mystery running through it. I'm currently writing a historical romance set in Wyoming in the late 1800s. I am a research geek and get really excited when I hit on a good source.

Some of my favorite authors and books are: Francine Rivers (The Atonement Child, Redeeming Love), Maureen Lang (The Oak Leaves, On Sparrow Hill), Sharon Hinck (The Restorer series), MaryLu Tyndall (The Redemption), Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice), Elizabeth Gaskell (North and South), and more and more.

Oh, yeah. I am an auditor for a local CPA firm, which sounds really cool but basically means I'm on my computer all day looking at accounts and reviewing financial statements. I have a degree in Accounting but my heart has always been for writing.

That's probably more than enough about me. Here comes my first blog post...