The Thrill of the Chase

Whether a few days, weeks, or months after the wedding, something begins to happen to "that lovin' feeling." A man and woman just seem to lose the wind in their romantic sails. It does not always occur, but too often it does.

Their plight reminds me of seamen back in the days of wooden vessels. Sailors in that era had much to fear, including pirates, storms, and diseases. But their greatest fear was that the ship might encounter the Doldrums. The Doldrums was an area of the ocean near the equator characterized by calm and very light shifting winds. It could mean death for the entire crew. The ship's food and water supply would be exhausted as they drifted for days, or even weeks, waiting for a breeze to put them back on course.

Well, marriages that were once exciting and loving can also get caught in the romantic doldrums, causing a slow and painful death to the relationship. But it need not be so. Author Doug Fields, in his book Creative Romance, writes, "Dating and romancing your spouse can change those patterns, and it can be a lot of fun. There's no quick fix to a stagnant marriage, of course, but you can lay aside the excuses and begin to date your sweetheart." In fact, you might want to try thinking like a teenager again. Let me explain.

Recall for a moment the craziness of your dating days—the coy attitudes, the flirting, the fantasies, the chasing after the prize. As we moved from courtship to marriage, most of us felt we should grow up and leave the game-playing behind. But we may not have matured as much as we'd like to think.

In some ways, our romantic relationships will always bear some characteristics of adolescent sexuality. Adults still love the thrill of the chase, the lure of the unattainable, excitement of the new and boredom with the old. Immature impulses are controlled and minimized in a committed relationship, of course, but they never fully disappear.

This could help you keep vitality in your marriage. When things have grown stale between you and your spouse, maybe you should remember some old tricks. How about breakfast in bed? A kiss in the rain? Rereading those old love letters together? A night at a bed and breakfast? Roasting marshmallows by an open fire? Cooking a meal together that you've never tried before? A phone call in the middle of the day? A long-stem rose and a love note? There are dozens of ways to fill the sails with wind once more.

I recall one occasion—many years after that unfortunate first Valentine's Day—when Shirley and I explored what we called our "old haunts." We took an entire day together, beginning with a visit to the Farmer's Market, where we had strolled as young lovers.

Then we had a leisurely lunch at a favorite restaurant and talked of things long ago. Afterwards we saw a theater performance at the Pasadena Playhouse, where we had gone on our second date, and later we had cherry pie and coffee at Gwinn's restaurant, a favorite hangout for dating couples. We talked about our warm memories and relived the excitement of earlier days. It was a wonderful reprise.

Another time, when I had been away from Shirley and our children for two weeks, I planned a little surprise for her. I asked her to be ready to go to dinner when I flew back home. Then I called Shirley's mother and asked her to be prepared to spend the night with the children, but to make Shirley think they were coming home late.

After we had gone to dinner and the theater that evening, I drove us to a beach community where I had made reservations at a hotel. Shirley didn't catch on until I opened the door and invited her to join me. That evening is still a favorite memory for us. (You see, I really have learned a thing or two over the years!)

Enjoy together your own unique brand of romance.

Even when finances are tight, just being together with your partner can rekindle that lovin' feeling. All that is needed is a little effort and creative flair. Talk with your mate; ask him or her what would bring new interest and excitement to your marriage. Then enjoy together your own unique brand of romance.

5 Essentials for Lifelong Intimacy

By Dr. James Dobson

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