Romance Is a Job: Even During the Holidays

By Jennifer Freed

Tom dated Cynthia for six months, during which time the sex was hot and Cynthia gushed praise for Tom at every opportunity. When he came over, she always had dinner ready and she dressed to the hilt for him. After eight months, they moved in together and Cynthia also got promoted at her job. Within a month, Cynthia wanted sex very rarely and said she was tired of cooking. Then she started berating Tom that he wasn’t ambitious enough, and that he should make enough money to support both of them. Flash forward and just picture this couple with kids and the expectations of holidays and you know the meaning of DISCONTENT.

There are many horror stories such as this and we are all familiar with the divorce battle stories of the couples whose passions fade. Research has shown that chemicals in the brain are in large part responsible for the zing of courtship for the first six months to two years of the mating ritual. During that time, biology kicks in with the dance of endorphins and dopamine to create a time-limited high for couples who are indeed pulled together by what seems to be an irresistible paranormal force. But what happens when the chemistry of nature has finished with the lure?

Most people just get resentful that their mate has stopped “caring,” “trying,” “wooing,” “feeling,” “understanding,” “appreciating,” etc. Others go into denial and wax sentimental about how it used to be. Some find a place to pour their energy into like work, children, or even substances and affairs.

Few people see the opportunity to become master romantics in the face of newly sober body chemistry, after the body has come down from the biological rush of courtship. Even fewer realize that romance is actually a vocation for people who truly want love in their lives.

The art of romance does not get very far if reserved for HOLIDAYS

From the following list, check the qualifications that apply to you. Underline the ones you have yet to master. This job, like any other that requires a highly specialized skill set, cannot really tolerate many insufficiencies in qualifications.

What it takes to qualify for the job of romance:

♥A good memory. What does he/she like, prefer, dislike, crave, abhor, or even secretly desire?

♥Do you remember to give your beloved those cherished flowers (or tickets to a sporting event) just to brighten their day?

♥A willingness to give your beloved what you have learned they want and need.

♥An attitude of gratitude for what they do and say.

♥How often are you telling him/her about how much you appreciate the little things?

♥An active verbal vocabulary for appreciating specific things about their body, their attractiveness, their talents, their deeds, and their spirit. Appreciations need to be in a ratio of six positive remarks to any one complaint or request.

♥Do you start off every request with acknowledgements about all their positive contributions and efforts?

♥A keen interest in and receptivity toward their daily struggles, successes, and needs for alone time.

♥A desire to admit mistakes with grace and humor.

♥How many times have you been able to laugh at yourself and admit your errors?

♥A passion to give words, things, or gestures that brighten each and every day.

♥How often do you look for the positive attributes in your beloved and say them out loud?

♥Prioritizing romance even within a week of other huge responsibilities, such as work or childrearing. There is always a minute in each day to let your lover know ways they matter to you and how much you appreciate them. (Just think back to the chemical-flooded days when you even found time to make love, or make that passionate call, squeezed between unimaginable deadlines.)

♥Do you put a daily dose of relationship maintenance at the top of your priorities?

♥An eagerness to show affection publicly. Act as if your partner is your favorite person in this world at parties and gatherings. Hold his/her hand, offer praise in front of others, give considerate courtesies before all others.

♥Are you as fit as the first few months you met? What are you doing daily to become the heartthrob your partner first met?

♥And finally, work ceaselessly to lessen the habits that annoy your partner. It is not the eradication of these habits that creates a romantic atmosphere (that is unrealistic); it is the lover’s persistent attempts to minimize the irritations that can endear the heart of the other.

Jennifer Freed, Ph.D, is a marriage therapist and author of LESSONS FROM STANLEY THE CAT published by PENGUIN and the co-author of The Ultimate Personality Guide, published by Tarcher/Putnam.