Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hello, everyone.

I thought I'd jot down a little something I noticed today. Or rather, it's been building all week, but this morning I actually had that, "Ah, ha!" moment.

I've been on a sort of self-imposed writing deadline this week. Since hubby is starting his new job next week (Woohoo!!), I've been trying to get as much written on a new book as I possibly can before my writing time is altered again.

So I've been putting much of the childcare burden on hubby.

And I'm sorry to say I hadn't noticed just how much of a help he has been all week (and for the last couple of months we've been doing household stuff together, but this week has been all about writing for me) until this morning.

Hubby took the boys to school. I went into my daughter's room to get her up, change her diaper and play for a little while.

Soon, my husband sauntered in, plopped down on the floor, and joined us in playing with blocks. Then he said, "Why don't you go work on your story while I feed her?"

"Sure." I smiled, said thanks, and trotted off to my room to fire up the computer.

Then he stuck in head in the door. "Have you eaten yet?"


"Why don't I bring you something?"

A nice surprise. "Yeah, thanks. That would be great."

And it hit me as I opened my browser a few minutes ago that it might not have been moonlight and roses, chocolates and champagne, but that was a pretty romantic gesture my hubby just did for me.

Sometimes they might just seem like ordinary, day in and day out kinds of things, but romantic gestures are there more often than you think. It's recognizing them that's the key.

And I will be sure to return the favor.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fun and Unique Dates

Okay, so Luke and I are the kind of people who have our routines and usually don't deviate from them. When we go on our date nights, we usually go out to dinner. Sometimes to a movie if it is a really special event. ;)

This weekend we were invited to attend a special event sponsored by his work - it was dinner and a short ride on the river cruise boats in downtown/bricktown. This was NOT the canal tour, but actually a nice-sized riverboat that went up and down the river (same place where they do the rowing races, etc.). We were able to spend some 1-on-1 time and just enjoy the ride and conversation.

This got me to thinking that some of our best/most memorable dates have been the unusual ones, the special ones.

*visiting the zoo (before we were even engaged!)
*watching Phantom of the Opera on Broadway in NYC
*spending a day exploring Niagara Falls
*fishing on Grand Lake together

While some of these "dates" were a little more expensive than others, I remember them all because they were unique.

So now I'm plotting... how can we break out of our routine again soon???

P.S. If you live in the OKC area, check out

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My Take on a Few Tips

I opened up my Internet browser to prepare this post, and as I scanned the news features before going to our blog site, an article caught my eye.

"Staying Committed and Keeping That Spark Alive!"

Well, hey! Alright! I can use some help with that. I mean, that's what we're all about here at Romance Your Spouse . . . keeping the spark in our marriages alive.

So I started reading the article by Jackie Black, PhD, and while I do agree with the essence of the piece, there were a few suggestions that cracked me up a bit. I'm including some of the tips (and this is not the whole article, you can read that at, and I'll explain what I mean by cracked up.

Do you and your sweetheart carve out quality alone-time together every
week? Do you both take responsibility for it, or does the task fall to one or
the other of you? Do you allow "real" interruptions to get in the way and spoil
your planned time together?

I'll start here by saying I agree with all of these questions. I agree you need alone time together. It's crucial to a healthy marriage (IMO). And it's a good question of who in the marriage is pushing for your time together. If it's just you, you might need to nudge your spouse (or use a baseball bat to the head, whichever method works best for you and your loved one) to be the one to bring the romance once in a while. And if you're always allowing little distractions like the phone, the TV, children who do not have a medical emergency like a broken limb or foreign objects shoved up their noses, to interrupt your time together, you need to find a way to make it about you as a couple.

Here are a few simple suggestions to prioritize your partner:
Meet once a week to look at your schedules and set aside time
for each other.

I agree with this, too. Maybe a little rigid, but still necessary if you both work, have kids with activities, and you need to schedule things right down to the last minute to fit it all in. So if that's the case, go for it. Schedule your time together and stick with it.

At least once a week, plan a date night. Once a month, plan
a date day (that's right, a whole day from morning to evening). Once each
quarter, plan a weekend get-away. Once each year, plan a week away together.

Okay, I have to say it. This is the one that cracked me up the most. While I agree with the concept behind this suggestion, the reality is sometimes a little harder to come by. My husband and I have three young kids. Loud kids. Energetic kids. Occasionally obnoxious kids. And we're broke. We can't afford to go out once a week because of the cost of babysitters and the cost of the actual date itself. Plus, I don't think we can pay anyone around here enough to stay a whole evening with our kids without breaking the bank.

Now, actually a date day is something we might be able to do if we call in a bunch of favors to arrange for family to watch the kids, but we certainly can't do it every month. They live too far away, and they love us, but not that much.

A weekend get away every quarter falls into the same category as the weekly date, no money and no sitters, and a week long vacation, while a dream come true that I might consider selling some plasma to bring about, there's no way we can make that happen.

So these are good suggestions for some, but mostly unrealistic for couples with young kids.

Mark your planned time in your calendar, just like a dentist appointment or
an appointment with a client. Write it in ink! Mark yourself out for a block of

Definitely do this if it helps, and do your best to stick with it.

Take turns planning your dates each week.

Another good suggestion. Sometimes it can be frustrating to be the one coming up with the romantic ideas for you and your sweetie, but if you let them know in a nice way you'd like a hand, usually they'll comply. They love you and want you to be happy.

Do the grocery shopping and buy a bouquet of flowers for your partner.

You should actually try this for your hubby, too. He can take them to his job (if he works in an office), or they can sit by his favorite chair, and be a reminder of your sweet gesture every time he sees them.

Write a love note and leave it for your partner to find.


Take a break from watching TV and doing laundry or other chores. Go to bed early and share massages, talk, or cuddle.

Yes, but again, with little kids, it's sometimes easier said than done. But try to do it anyway, at least once a week.

Turn off the TV, turn on the stereo and have a talk.

This can be SUPER relaxing, and a definite must once the kiddos are in bed.

Kiss your mate Good Morning and Good Night every day. Just say, "I love you."

And when you kiss them, kiss'em like you mean it. No quick peck on the cheek or lips. A real hello and good-bye kiss can speak volumes to your spouse. I know it gets my attention when my hubby does it!

So, anyway. Overall, I liked the article, with a few points that are a little unrealistic for us at this time, but still good ideas to shoot for.

If you can fit any of these ideas into your marriage, I say go for it. But if you are able to get away for a week with your honey, know that I am SOOOOO jealous, but happy for you, too.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Another Dude's Perspective on Romance

I am pleased to announce we have another male victim . . . er, guest blogger today. His name is Matt Jones, and he is a friend from WIN-ACFW, the Tulsa chapter of ACFW.

Thank you Matt, for being here today.



That word could scare the moustache off the Marlboro man. What is it about that word that makes men want to run and hide, hunkered down like fourth graders under their desks in a tornado drill?

Why is it that grown men, men who have been married for years, who have attained the sacred grail of holy matrimony and wooed some poor, unsuspecting woman into a life with them – why do these men still quail at the turn of the calendar every February when Valentine’s day peeks it’s chocolate covered head around the corner?

In a word, it’s simply this: misunderstanding.

When I first became a father, I had a difficult time figuring out how to relate to my little son. At about the age of two, he went from happily playing by himself with toys to, “Daddy! Come play with me!”

How does one play with a two year old?

I had no earthly idea and stressed over the PRESSURE of playing with my two year old little boy. What if I did it wrong? What if he didn’t like the way I played with his toys? What if I damaged his toddler psyche to the point that he grew up hating me and… But I digress.

Finally my wife, whom I consider to be the most fantastic mother on the planet and an expert on all things “child,” had the perfect solution.

“Just sit beside him while he plays. All he wants is for you to be there.”

Sounds simple, right?

But for me, it was revolutionary. First, it was SO much easier than I thought it would be! Not only that, but it took the pressure of performance off of me. Second, it struck me that all I was doing was whatever it took to make him happy. I was, in a sense, romancing him.

Through the years, I’ve found that the relationship between my wife and I is no different. If I set out to try and perform perfect acts of romance for her, and if I try to carry the weight of making romance happen, I wind up feeling stressed and incapable from the beginning.

But, if I approach the idea of romancing my wife by simply choosing to do whatever makes her happy, I’m practicing the “just be there” mentality and romance is produced naturally.

So what does that translate to?

Well, since I’m only married to my wonderful wife, I can only tell you what she loves; and more than anything, she loves for me to have a plan that I’ve thought of in advance specifically catered to her.

I imagine that one day I’ll pull it all together and plan the perfect day of one surprising event after another, with Rio Samba roses and an appropriate change of outfit waiting at every stop.

Ahhhhh . . .

But until that day, it helps to at least start with not making her decide where we should go out to dinner on our anniversary when we climb into the car. Yeah . . . know that ahead of time.

The best way to never get romance right is to try really, really hard to get it perfect without considering who you’re doing it for. Romance isn’t about performance; it’s about caring so much for someone that all you want to do is whatever it takes to make them happy.

And, like the saying goes, when Mama’s happy . . . everybody’s happy.

Matt Jones

Matt is a husband, father, writer, and the president of Jones House Creative. Visit his website at

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Just Being Together

Good morning.

Well, my post is actually somewhat similar to my friend Lacy's. We have been extremely busy over the last few weeks, and honestly, being romantic has not been high on our list of things to do.

But really, it should be.

During the busiest seasons in our lives, we need to cling to one another and find a way to make the time to be together.

Just in the last week, we've had t-ball games, yard work, errands to run, meals to cook, a house to clean, a job search, kids' homework, hubby and the boys took a trip to visit relatives while the baby and I stayed home to rest, and more.

And I'm sure this sounds soooooo familiar to many people out there. Trying to keep up with everything else takes its toll on the time you can spend with your spouse, especially if you both work full-time on top of all that.

Yesterday my husband had errands he needed to run. My first inclination was, "Okay, go ahead. I have some chapters to work on, and laundry to fold."

But then I stopped when I realized we hadn't spent any time together in several days. So I put on my jacket, got the baby ready, and we headed into town to take care of the errands.

And it was nice.

Not wild and passionate.

Not wispy and dreamy.

Just nice.

And truthfully, sometimes nice is all you need together.

So in the midst of your own busy week, find a way to carve out some alone-time together, and don't worry about making it razzle-dazzle (although there's nothing wrong with that, and if you have the chance, GO FOR IT!). Just make it about you and your spouse together in a quiet place, and listening to each other, or soft music, or holding hands and cuddlig without saying a word.

It will help put you back on the track to romance more than you might think.


Monday, April 20, 2009

When Life is Upside-Down

So life has been so crazy lately that hubby and I have not been upholding our date night.

For the last couple weeks, between my crazy work schedule, family commitments, church activities, and the insanity of the break-in at our house and the aftermath of dealing with the insurance company (etc.), we just haven't had time.

Instead, we've been trying to make time away from the TV and other distractions to communicate. Just talk. About what's been going on at work, feelings, stress, lots of things. Sometimes this happens at dinnertime and sometime it's when we're already in bed, right before we go to sleep.

Having this time just to talk is necessary for us - we are used to knowing everything that is going on with each other and I think we'd miss out on too much if we didn't take a little time each day to just check in with each other. And, okay, I'm nosy enough to want to know what all has been happening during the day. :)

Hopefully things will get back to "normal" for us soon. My birthday is coming up, so there will definitely be one great date coming up soon!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Exercise your romantic options!

This is the time of year when my husband and I try to get our annual physicals. Now, a visit to the doctor may not sound like the most romantic topic, but bear with me. First and foremost, if you’re not taking care of your health, you aren’t going to have the energy to be romantic.

Another reason to take care of your health is to make sure you both have the best chance of a long, happy life together. My husband gave me a real scare last year when a routine physical led to a referral to a cardiologist. Jack has been battling high cholesterol, bad HDL/LDL ratios, and borderline high blood pressure for most of his adult life. Faithful about regular exercise and following doctor’s orders, he did his best to keep things under control, but last summer he had angioplasty and a stent. Thankfully he’s now doing great!

Essential to good health is regular exercise. Jack has worked out 2-3 times a week for as long as I’ve known him. Me . . . not so much. I’ve never cared much for working up a sweat. I also resent giving up that 20-30 minutes of time I could be at my computer doing something writing-related. But I know it’s important, and I’m determined to stay active in some form or fashion.

Do you have healthy eating habits? There are many healthful diet plans available, so it’s really a matter of finding what fits your tastes and lifestyle best. Jack and I have focused on The Flat Belly Diet for the past year or so with very positive results. Key to every meal is a serving of MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids), such as nuts, avocados, olives, or olive oil. The plan recommends four meals a day of around 400 calories each (men can go a little higher).

Above all, remember that our bodies are God’s temple, and He expects us to do our part in taking care of them. We have no way of knowing how long or short our time on earth may be, but we owe it for the Lord, to our spouse, and to ourselves to keep ourselves fit and healthy for whatever tasks God gives us--including romancing our spouse!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Hello. Denice here again to talk about that whole 'romance on a shoestring budget' thing.

So, I'm not exactly sure where I picked up this little tip, but I gotta say, I've tried it a few times and it works really well when I want to surprise my husband with a bold, loving statement, but I don't want to spend a lot (or any) money.

I take an old tube of lipstick, preferably red, and draw a huge heart on his bathroom mirror. Then I write, "I Luv U" in the center, and (this part may seem a little weird, but looks very cute) I put the lipstick on me and make lipstick "kisses" all around the mirror.

I do this either really early before he gets up, or wait until he's asleep, so the first thing he sees when he turns on the light for his shower is a wonderful wake up message.

He gets a positive and encouraging start to his day, and by the time he gets home, he usually brings something for me, as well (card, flowers, chocolate, whatever).

The only thing you have to worry about is clean-up, but honestly, the mirror probably needed to be cleaned anyway (at least mine does), and now you have a good reason to do it.

Give it a try sometime, and see how your spouse reacts. You both might be pleasantly surprised.

Monday, April 13, 2009

My Husband, the... Hero?

One of my MOST IMPORTANT THINGS about Luke, even before we got married, was that I wanted him to take care of me.

After six-almost-seven years of marriage, this has manifested itself in various ways:

He takes care of me by working hard five days a week to pay our bills and take care of my physicals needs, like a house, food, gas, etc.
He takes care of me by making faith a priority in our lives.
He takes care of me by being there for me emotionally when I need to talk, cry, or laugh.
He takes care of me by allowing me to have three fun & ornery dogs that bring joy to our lives and make me laugh.
He takes care of me by supporting my writing career.

Basically, he takes care of me in a million different ways, little and big, and I love him for it (still!).

And recently, I found out just how much I rely on him.

Our house was broken into, during the day while we were at work. I was the first one home and walked into the mess they left when they went through all our stuff. Thankfully, the dogs were left alone (although they went nuts when I finally got to get back there to let them out!). A bunch of our stuff was stolen, including a few pieces of jewelry that had a lot of sentimental value for me.

I was a wreck pretty much all last week. Very shaken up and just felt violated by the fact that someone was IN MY HOUSE. We have a loving family and group of friends who rallied around and supported us, so I felt very blessed by that.

I was scared to stay home alone the first tnight. I could tell a definite difference in my attitude during the times when Luke was home with me versus the times when I was home alone.
I depend on him to take care of me.

When he was there, I wasn't worried at all about what would happen - I knew that no matter what, he would take care of me. I love being able to depend on him for that.

I think there is a Spiritual lesson here, too - God wants to be the one we can depend on to take care of us. And when we do rely on him, we have a sense of peace.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Special Words

You know, sometimes we want our spouses to speak words of love to us, to say things or do things to show us they love the way we think we want them said or done. Rarely does it happen that way. And because it doesn't, sometimes, we fail to see or hear how they are showing and telling us how much they care, in their own way, each day.

We sometimes miss out on seeing the loving thought when we're brought a cup of coffee while we are hard at work on our WIP or deep into researching for our next one. We don't always see the offer to take us to eat when they know we're too tired to cook as a show of their love for us--and we don't always hear the words they say about us to others...but oh how blessed we are when we do see and hear the little ways they show and tell us how they feel.

When Dan and I came back from the conference a few weeks ago, I'm so very glad I was in earshot when a friend from church asked Dan where we'd been. Dan said he'd taken me to a conference. The man wondered what kind, since Dan is retired. Dan explained that it was a writing conference for me. And I explained that he was there for me and that he didn't want me to drive by myself. Then Dan said he went because he didn't want to be without me.  It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about how much that one sentence told me he loves me. I don't want to be without him either.

And yes, I did tell Dan how much those words meant to me. I will never forget them.

We need to open our eyes and ears so that we don't miss seeing and hearing the love of our spouses. And then we need to let them know we do.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My Favorite "New" Romantic Movies

Well, a couple of weeks ago I blogged about some of my favorite old, romantic movies.

So today I thought I would give you the list of my top ten favorite new, romantic movies.

Now . . . let me clarify a little bit. When I say "new" this is said with the understanding that I haven't actually sat in a movie theater with my hubby, holding hands, and sharing a tub of popcorn in six months, and before that it was two or three years.

We were on a trip to Dallas for our 10 year anniversary, and when Scott suggested we go see a movie, my first thought was, "No way! We can go see a movie anytime. We're supposed to be doing fun, unique, and exciting things on this trip."

And my husband's response was, "When was the last time we got to go to a movie together . . . alone . . . or sit through an entire movie at home without interruption."

Well, after that I was convinced. So we went to see Mamma Mia!, and it was wonderful.

But all this is to say that this list of movies is not recent, like a few months old. These are movies from the last 20 years or so.

So here they are, my Top Ten "New" Favorite Romantic Movies.

1. Pride and Prejudice (both versions: the BBC special starring Colin Firth & Jennifer Ehle, and the more recent version with Keira Knightley & Matthew MacFadyen)

2. Return to Me (David Duchovny & Minnie Driver)

3. Sabrina (Harrison Ford & Julia Ormond)

4. Strictly Ballroom (Scott Mercurio & Tara Morice)

5. My Big, Fat Greek Wedding (Nia Vardalos & John Corbett)

6. Sense and Sensibility (Emma Thompson & Hugh Grant, Kate Winslet & Alan Rickman)

7. While You Were Sleeping (Bill Pullman & Sandra Bullock)

8. Benny and Joon (Johnny Depp & Mary Stewart Masterson)

9. The Marrying Man (Alec Baldwin & Kim Basinger)

10. 50 First Dates (Adam Sandler & Drew Barrymore)

Monday, April 6, 2009


Hubby and I usually eat lunch with either my parents or his parents on Sunday afternoons. It is a nice change of pace for us and a great way to keep close to the family on both sides.
However, yesterday both sets of parents were busy, so Luke and I got to go to lunch together.

This was nice for us because we had a pretty busy weekend, AND Luke was sick, so we didn't get to do our usual date night.

We had a chance to talk about some things, including some of our dreams for the future that we haven't talked about in awhile.

I think it is so important in a marriage to talk about your hopes and dreams as a married couple.

I have some dreams (being published!) that are my own but that will require support from my husband in order to accomplish. Likewise, he has some dreams, like getting our house paid off and then being able to jump into mission work or working with teens, that he will need my support for. And of course, we have our "together" dreams, like having a family and certain trips that we want to take, and what we want to do with the house to make it perfect for us.

We don't talk about those things all the time, but I am so glad we talked about some of them this weekend. It feels so good to have someone affirm what you are working toward, and to be on the same page with someone. Knowing that I have Luke behind me, and that we share our dreams really makes our marriage stronger.

Have you shared dreams with your spouse recently?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Is there such a thing as love chemistry?

I read an article in AARP Bulletin this month talking about a professor of neuroscience, Larry Young, at Emory University exploring developing a drug that works on our brain to release brain hormones that give us a "warm feeling."

In the article the author wondered if there would be a day when we could take a love pill to help us as the article said, "make people have the impulse and the desire to move closer to one another." It's interesting to note that our brain's chemistry does change in certain activities associated with love (the article gave the examples of breast feeding and sex).

So do you think one day we'll see a love potion on the shelf to tap into those changes that occur in us when we see someone we love?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Prayer - it's great for a marriage

Being that I’m a Christian, a strong prayer life should be second nature, right? Sadly, no. More times than I’d like to admit, my prayer life has sagged. But God is faithful and He loves His children, even those like myself who get caught up in daily life and tend to walk away from Him occasionally. Thankfully, God always draws me back to Him.

Once I’m back on track with my prayer life, there is one area that tends to garner a great deal of attention. My marriage. Why? Because outside of my relationship with Christ, it is the single most important relationship in my life. Sure I love my kids and my extended family, but my husband is primo. He has my heart and I have his and for that reason alone, I work to protect all that God has blessed between us.

Now to be honest, when we were first married I had no idea how to pray for my husband. So, I looked for help and found it in 4 books. The first and most important book is my bible. The next three are wonderful tools: The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian, A Wife After God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George & A Woman After God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George.

In case you’ve never read any of the last three, let me just note what is really amazing about these authors and their books is they always turn your focus back to God and the study of His word, the bible. He’s the author of our lives so it’s important that we keep Him a priority in our marriage.

I have kept these books close at hand for years, using them extensively as I pray for our marriage. They're dog-eared, marked with favorite passages and littered with scribbled notes in the margins. Each time I pick them up; I am reminded to seek the Lord first when covering our marriage in prayer.

I’ll be the first to admit praying God’s word changes your life. We’ve experienced peace in heartbreaking situations, watched as arguments melted away and a continued love for each other blossom with each passing year. As with most couples, we have our ups and downs, our fights and make-ups, yet through it all, I pray. I ask God to bless us, to protect and strengthen our marriage and to grow a love between us that cannot be broken.

This year we will celebrate 19 years. Wahoo! I believe God is the reason. So my prayer request for you is to place God first, your husband second and let nothing come between you.

Many blessings,