While searching through some old files, I came across this column that I wrote in 2005. With valentines day approaching, I decided it might be nice to republish it here.
My wife and I try to take time for ourselves. We set aside one night each week to go to dinner, have a glass of wine and take a long walk. She goes on Tuesdays and I go on Thursdays. It seems to work out quite nicely.
I am not sure if that joke is funny or sad. I do know that the longer I am married the more I can relate. Keeping the magic alive in a relationship is no easy feat. It requires patience and diligence.
While doing some spring-cleaning, I came across a box of letters I had written to my wife while we were dating. I don’t know if there is a rule preventing men from reading letters they wrote their wives, but I couldn’t resist. I wanted to remember a time before children and gray hair, back when love was new and we couldn’t keep our hands off one another. I have to give myself some credit. I sure could write a mean love letter. The notes were filled with rapture. I wrote flowery descriptions of her beauty and lyrical professions of my eternal love and devotion. Hey, if I had received letters like this I would have married me too.
As I shuffled through the envelopes increasingly swept away in remembrance, I noticed the one thing the letters had in common was their age. All that flowery talk had stopped many years ago. Sure, I have written many loving notes to my wife. I send her birthday cards, anniversary cards and I am not above the occasional suggestive email, but the handwritten letters filled with heartfelt passion and longing are a thing of the past.
Somewhere along the way I lost the words. I used to read my poetry to my wife. She still gets a far away look in her eye when she remembers the two of us staying up late and me reading my sappy stuff to her. Okay, some of it was “game.” Guys have a store of stuff they pull out to weaken a woman’s resolve. (I used to have my “special” music. My stand-by was Pat Metheny’s “Off Ramp.” However, when I was really serious I pulled out the Frankie Beverly!) The point is it worked. She is my lover and my partner so why have I stopped wooing her? I miss the days I actually cared if I showered before I saw her and she cared if her hair was combed. The love I feel for her, however, has not dissipated nor has my desire.
The answer is habit, the relationship killer. Routine dulls expectation. Like so many other couples we are chasing our tails in a cycle of work, children, laundry and housecleaning. Who has energy to woo after a long day of taking care of business? And yet stoking the flames of romance is vital for the long-term health of a marriage. It is essential that couples break out of that cycle and are conscientious about taking the necessary time to fill their loving cups. If friendship is the engine, romance is the fuel. Without it, relationships stop growing. Boredom sets in and couples that at one time laughed and snuggled begin to sit around the house staring at one another.
Tonight I am going to write a love letter to my wife. I may be a bit rusty, but I will find the words to tell her that even with her hair standing all over her head my heart still beats a little faster when she is around me. Then perhaps we will begin dating again. We will take long walks and hold hands. We are going to laugh and relax in each other’s arms and stoke passion’s fire. If she isn’t careful I may even pull out the Frankie Beverly!