People who feel unhappy in their marriages often gripe, “What happened to the romance we had when we were dating?”
The list of reasons people give for why their marriages failed include the usual suspects: financial problems, infidelity, in-laws, and disagreements about how to raise the kids. None of these are the true reasons why marriages fall apart. These problems are merely the symptoms of something more fundamental.
Marriages fail for the same reason businesses fail. They stop showing their customers that they care.
If that sounds too simple, think back to when you started shopping at a new store or eating at a new restaurant. At the grand opening, you were treated like a rich relative. Now recall when you started dating and treated each other like royalty. You didn’t argue then about little things that bothered you. You were too busy loving each other. Even the big things didn’t seem insurmountable because you believed your love could get you through anything.
No business can succeed by taking a day off from treating its customers well. Imagine a sign on the front door of your favorite coffee shop or restaurant that announced: “Today we don’t care about you.”
You can’t stay in love by showing your partner that some days they don’t matter. Marriages fail because caring fails. Caring for one another requires individual effort. It requires knowing your partner as well or better than you know yourself. You need to give your partner what they need, not what you think they need.
Men and women can have different definitions of romance. Valentine’s Day is the perfect time for you to explore what romance means to your partner.
What If Men Could Earn the Title of Chief Romance Officer?
Men may feel their role in marriage is to be a protector and provider, not romancer. Men don’t need to be told how to defend their homes or families. That’s instinctive. Romance is not. If a man held the title of Chief Romance Officer, he might take his mission of providing romance more seriously. This is why many men need a reason or a protocol to be romantic. If they haven’t been assigned a specific area of responsibility, or don’t perceive an immediate threat, they may assume that all is well. They may not be romantic unless it can be connected to important events such as anniversaries, birthdays or other significant events such as Valentine’s Day with etiquette stipulating what is expected of them.
Women often expect their husbands to understand their needs and don’t communicate their expectations. Valentine’s Day can be seen as a test for proof of love and commitment. If a husband isn’t aware of how to express his love in a way that his wife finds pleasing, then he can be confused if he tries to express romance and falls short in his wife’s eyes.
He might choose a bouquet and card only to find out she wanted a gift. Or he takes her out to dinner only to learn she really wanted a romantic evening at home with him. When in doubt, he could make his and her life easier by just asking her what she’d like to do for Valentine’s Day. Her wish is his command. And his wife can do the same for him. By treating one another as best customers, we can bring our best to the relationship.
Women Value Romantic Effort
Given the divorce rate of about 1.2 million couples per year in the United States, it seems that many couples are oblivious to their partner’s romantic needs. However, romance must have been alive and well at some point or they would not have made it to the altar. That makes us believe that we use romance to achieve our goal of getting the customer, but simply don’t understand its value when it comes to keeping the customer. During courtship, when hormones are operating on overdrive, men may be more romantic, or may just appear to be romantic to a woman wearing her own love blinders.
This us where knowledge of romance, and even romance training, would come in handy. For men with no formal training in how to act romantically—and women who expect romance—marriage becomes a struggle.
Men may use flowers, jewelry, picnics in the park or surprise vacations to demonstrate love. But few men understand that all gifts feel more romantic to her if they require considerable effort on his part to acquire. It may involve money, but not necessarily. An investment of extra thought, time and creativity on his part can mean the world. Hiring a personal shopper to buy a gift means that he didn’t have time for her, no matter how expensive the offering. On the other hand, finding the perfect Valentine’s card before they are all picked over or writing a love letter earns high points because he invested a part of himself in his gift. It shows she is worth the effort and proves he truly cares about her and still loves her essence.
Romance literature is filled with tales that women want to hear about the quests that men would endure for love. To be sure his love is real and eternal she needs ongoing proof. Romance is one verification.
Romance for Men Is Different
If romance could be tied to a purchase order or its value measured by price to earnings ratio, men would find a way to grow it, harvest it and sell it for a premium price.
For men, romance is about challenge, achievement, recognition and respect. Women want to be swept up in the arms of heroes, and men want to be those heroes.
First, men learn to please their mothers, then their girlfriends and ultimately their wives and daughters by achieving success. By proving their strength, prowess and skill at navigating an ever more complex and dangerous world, they earn the esteem and admiration of the women they love.
Men are told in many ways that whatever path they choose in life, failure is not an option. It is the scent of failure that men hate and women fear in men; it disrupts the natural order of his achievement and therefore her reward.
Men want to be loved no less than women want to be loved, but men feel loved in different ways.
• Romance for a man is the look in his lover’s eyes that makes him feel admired for his strength, intelligence, integrity, his ideas or whatever he deems valuable.
• Romance is laughing at his jokes.
• Romance is public approval of his talents, skills and success.
• Romance is sharing his interests in sports, business, the outdoors or the hobbies he enjoys.
We Need Someone Lovable to Love Us
Of course, these ideas of what is romantic are generalities. They give hints, but don’t describe each unique partner. Ultimately we need to treat one another as our best customers, to pay attention to one another’s specific needs and wants. They may not always voice their needs, but great marketers are more interested in what people do rather than what they say. Behavior can lead us in the right direction. In marriage, we have a front row seat to our partner’s performance.
Having a partner to listen to our tales of glory, no matter how ordinary, is a gift we would miss if they were not there to listen. We would be lost without a partner to comfort us when life beats us down. We yearn for a partner who is generous with their time, empathizes with our worries and celebrates our achievements.
We need someone thoughtful to think of us. We need someone caring to care for us. These are the true benefits that help us stay in love. These are the gifts we need to celebrate on Valentine’s Day.