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The Power of a Woman in Love

We women have the power to change the whole romance picture. More than likely, we each live with a motivated man who wants more romantic closeness but who is holding back or frustrated. Which means we often hold the key to the quality of romance.

If you’ve been disappointed with your romantic relationship and have pushed and prodded to no effect, you’ve probably realized that nagging doesn’t work. So how do we start?

Encourage Him

Although a man always needs his wife’s appreciation, it is especially critical when he is outside his comfort zone—which, when it comes to romance, is probably the case for half the male population.

One man was blunt: “Encourage me and affirm my efforts, and I’ll run through a brick wall to please you. But don’t just assume that I know you’re pleased. I’m way outside my comfort zone. I’m willing to be a fool for you, but just tell me that I did good. And give me sex. That helps too.”

Remember that many men view taking romantic initiative as a huge risk—a risk of being humiliated or feeling inadequate. So prove to your man that it’s not a risk! When he makes an effort, it’s your responsibility—and your joy—to demonstrate that it was worth it.

Even when your man isn’t outside his comfort zone, he can become frustrated when you don’t want to “go outside and play” when the opportunity arises. So next time he suggests something, don’t tell him you really need to vacuum the house. Give him his version of a candlelight dinner, and enjoy your romantic time together!

Entice Him

Just as men want to be encouraged, they want to be enticed. One married man relayed this interchange with a female friend who was wondering why romance sometimes dies off in marriage.

Her: Romance is the sense that you’re still being pursued.

Him: But we caught you. Hand me the remote.

Many men have told me that, whether in work or in romance, they are always looking for something to conquer—something to “catch.” A key element in keeping romance alive is to keep giving that to our husbands.

Keep it fresh—give him something new to pursue. Go hiking with him. Play golf with him. Give him space when he needs it, and intimate attention when he needs that. Make yourself the kind of friend and lover he constantly wants to pursue.

Tell Harry What Sally Needs

Several men suggested that, since they can’t read our minds, it’s fine for us to drop hints about those romantic things we’d like to do…as long as they truly are hints, not directives. Take that classic Harry-and-Sally issue: cuddling. Because cuddling tends to be more important to us than to guys, a little patient reeducation may be in order. And this applies to anything you find particularly romantic that he doesn’t get. “Help me understand why it’s so important to you,” one man suggested. “Help me see that, as I romance you in your way, you’ll be more motivated to romance me in my way.”

This approach isn’t a damaging, withholding-based model. It is learning to give what the other person needs and enjoying the resulting God-ordained fruits of that selflessness. One man’s response to the cuddling example was, “Men can learn to enjoy a time of closeness after sex. And in this case, it is definitely in our best interest to understand why it matters so much to you!”

Keep Him Number One

If we let too many other priorities interfere with romance, it puts a damper on the man’s enthusiasm. One of the most common concerns I heard is that we may unconsciously prioritize our kids over our husbands. On the survey, several men expressed concern that “she spends too much time doting on the children” and not enough time doting on the relationship.

A man with three active children commented, “It’s considered a Christian thing to do, to be with the kids all the time. But for me as a man, there is a sense of ‘I’ve lost my wife.’ It could sound selfish, but it’s not. And it’s not too healthy for the kids either.”

One man said, “It’s not just kids that steal a wife. It’s the whole to-do list. Even helping others can get in the way.”

That is the cry of a man who just wants to spend more quality, romantic time with his wife. What an irony, considering that most women pine for the same thing! We have a tremendous opportunity to start over with our men…and in the process rediscover the delight of the mutual pursuit.

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Adapted from For Women Only: Revised and Updated Edition by Shaunti Feldhahn by permission of Multnomah, division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Shaunti Feldhahn

About the Author

Shaunti Feldhahn is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, public speaker and a best-selling author or co-author (with husband Jeff) of six titles in the "Only" series, most recently For Women Only in the Workplace. Feldhahn earned her master's degree in public policy at Harvard University. She is married to Jeff and they have two children, making their residence in Atlanta, GA. Visit Shaunti.com for more info.