What the Most Romantic Couples Do Before Bed

Help Me Solve a Marriage Issue!

It had been one of those weeks.

It had started with each and every one of us coming down with a summer cold.

We ran out of tissues.

And paper towels.

But not toilet paper.

Then, one evening, the big dog got skunked. That was the night I realized we’d used up all of the baking soda and peroxide (a common home remedy for skunked dogs) the last time he was skunked. So I washed him with dish soap outside with a hose in the middle of a thunderstorm. It didn’t take the smell out even a tiny bit. So then I crated him, drove to the store, bought supplies, and washed him again. And again. And again.

And then I disinfected the crate.

The following morning, the little dog ate my kid’s birthday present. While I was talking the kid out of murdering the little dog, the big dog ate her breakfast.

The kid was still crying when I dropped her off at camp that morning.

Days later one of the dogs came down with a throwing up thing. I’ll spare you the details, except to say this: we still did not have paper towels at that point.

The evening of The Day the Little Dog Kept Throwing Up, I sat on the couch in a daze.

“Do you have any beer?” I asked my husband. “I could use a beer.”

“In the basement,” he said.

I walked down. There I found a box of very cheap beer. That’s when I remembered that my husband, a beer connoisseur, had switched from the good stuff (microbrews) to the cheap stuff in an effort to help us save funds. Now, I am generally very good at living a frugal, simple, downright no-frills existence, but one of my weaknesses has to do with beer, wine, cheese and chocolate. I’d rather not eat or drink those at all than imbibe in the cheap stuff.

I brought up a few cans, put them in the fridge, and said to my husband, “I put some in the fridge for you. I’m not having any, though. I just can’t bring myself to do that.”

He teased me into drinking one. Then he asked, “Was it really that bad?”

I had to admit that there were worse things.

The following night, I was watching WWE with the kid when my husband walked into the room with two beers in hand.

“I went to the store and I got the good stuff today, just for you,” he said.

“Aw, that’s so romantic!” I said, taking one cold one off his hands.

That’s when I questioned myself, “In what kind of a marriage is this a romantic gesture? How romance starved are we that I think that this is romantic?”

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not minimizing my husband’s gesture. It was incredibly thoughtful of him, and, yes, I’m the one who is always preaching to notice and appreciate the small gestures. All I’m saying is that something about him bringing me a beer made me realize just how little we romanced one another in general. There had been a time when we had a date night once a week. But then my main baby sitter changed her phone number. When I found a new sitter, she informed me that she would only baby sit during the week, that weekends were reserved for her love interest.

Weeknights are dang near impossible for my husband and I to have a date night. I could go into why, or you can just trust me on this.

I’d like to have more romance in my marriage. I’d like more closeness. I’d like more affection.

And I’d like to do it without having a date night.

It seems it should be possible to have romance between the hours of 8 p.m.—when my husband usually gets home from work—and 11 p.m., when we go to bed. It seems it should be possible to pull off this romance EVEN IF we have an 8-year-old kid and two dogs who may or may not be throwing up, getting skunked, or chewing on something that isn’t theirs.

Don’t you agree?

That’s why I’m asking for your help. I’m guessing some of you have this evening romance thing figured out. You are good at it.

Will you please share your secrets with me? I’d like to have dozens of ideas from which to choose.

Thank you.

And, yes, of course, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Related Reading: Over at TheNinjaWife, there’s an interview with Bethany Riechmann, whose husband Dustin writes the Engaged Marriage site. In it she talks about the ways Dustin romances her.

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21 comments… add one

  • Mary August 14, 2012, 2:08 pm

    Eat ice cream together. <3

  • Kathryn August 14, 2012, 2:38 pm

    Good for you for appreciating the small stuff! We just celebrated 20 years of marriage two weeks ago and it is really the small, thoughtful, unselfish gestures that are the most romantic. Over the years, and especially now that we have two teenagers in the house our idea of romance has changed.
    My husband finds it to be romantic that I walk the dogs with him. I am not a dog person at all, so the fact that I allowed him to bring two rescue dogs into the home and actively engage in caring for them and nurturing them is something that speaks romance to him.
    I love that he will often drop whatever he is doing and come to bed with me and cuddle me to sleep. His willingness to actively pursue time and closeness with me is sweet.
    Other ideas:
    Take up a new hobby together. I got us a disk golf set for our anniversary since we have a course nearby and John wants to develop more common interests together as well as spend more time together.
    Cook together – make up meals ahead that you can freeze. Not only can you have fun working together, but you will have more free time weeknights when you can simply reheat a meal and relax together.
    And last, one of my favorites, when we watch tv together we make out during the commercials.

    • WFO August 29, 2012, 2:17 pm

      Making out while watching TV. I used to do that with my wife, before we got married. I would love to do that again, but in addition with her sitting in my lap. But, our remaining at-home child, who is in high school, might be grossed out. And my legs would go to sleep.

      • WFO August 29, 2012, 2:20 pm

        Well, actually, I’d like to just watch my wife, instead of TV. But that hasn’t been terribly exciting since she had her back surgery, a couple of months before our wedding. She had lost some weight to get my interested. Then the back surgery came along and she put that weight back on, and it’s been that way ever since.

  • Me August 14, 2012, 4:23 pm

    I would like to hear some ideas too! It’s hard for my husband and I to get time alone as well. We are celebrating our 4 year wedding anniversary tomorrow (a week late) and his parents and grandmother are doing to dinner with us, how romantic!

  • Gay August 14, 2012, 4:37 pm

    Sorry, but I’m going to have to go all practical on you. Romance is like meditation. You have to sit so you’ll be calmer other times. So you’ll have that well to draw on.

    You have to have a date night so the romance will be more accessible and spontaneous. Go back to weekly date night and you’ll have a romance well to draw on Trust me on this.

  • Heather Smith August 14, 2012, 4:57 pm

    We go back and forth all the time and quite often have to have discussions about spending too much time on our computers and ignoring each other. After those talks, we try to make an effort to simply watch tv together and talk about what we’re watching instead of being on our computers. Just sharing that time watching a movie or show helps us feel connected. My husband isn’t big on ‘romance’ so I don’t look for big gestures, just making time for each other. We also try to text each other during the day just to say ‘love you’ or silly things. I send him things like ‘I love you more than a box full of pirates’. I admit that he is WAY better at this than I am but sometimes I hear a song lyric and text it to him. We’re in the middle of a very stressful moving process and it has been a huge help to just stop in the hallway and hug for a minute here and there. It reminds me that we’re on the same team.

  • Rosemary August 14, 2012, 5:37 pm

    I did this on Valentine’s day, but something similar could be done any day.

    When my husband came home there was a big valentine heart hanging on the door with the message, “There are 5 more of these. Can you find them all?” They were stashed around the house in different forms, such as a card, a cookie, etc. The last one was a temporary tattoo somewhere on me.

    • Jenn August 15, 2012, 3:10 pm

      Love that, I always look for quirky things to do on Valentine’s Day.
      Thanks for sharing.

  • Mrs Hill | The Ninja Wife August 14, 2012, 7:08 pm

    Love the question and there are great answers already. Couple ideas:

    1. Alisa, because you sound a bit down, you can just tell your hubbie: “feeling run down, romance me. You prepare a romantic night in this week and I will prepare romantic night in next week”.

    2. Dress up, lit the candles, have all types of treats you usually do not allow yourself: chocolate, cheeses, alcohol. Pick a topic for a deep meaningful conversation to reconnect: if you had another life, what would you do, childhood dreams and fears, things to do before you die. And then have a game of strip poker or bubble bath together.

    3. Can you have a campfire at the beach or backyard? I am not sure if it is legal here but we had a lot of fun when we were sitting around the campfire on Sunday and melt marshmallows were just delic. Stargazing is cool too.

    Best of luck with romancing up your marriage :) We all need it.

  • RavSean August 14, 2012, 8:26 pm

    The fact that you are only considering the possibilities between 8:00 and 11:00 is simply not enough. We have the ability to be in touch with our spouses all day. Send e-mails back and forth. Slip a piece of lingerie in his briefcase when you know he will likely open it at a meeting. A little note in someone’s lunch is also a nice touch. Place a toy in her purse.

    Romance is not confined to three hours of the day.


  • Deb August 15, 2012, 3:43 am

    Your daughter is old enough to hang with the dogs before dinner and respect a lock on your bedroom door. So once or twice a week, have a pre-dinner “meeting” with candles, a glass of wine/beer and a quickie. We also have a pre-dinner glass of wine on the porch or in the living room before we even start fixing dinner, just to reconnect about our day and with each other. We eat dinner late, but the kids have learned to have a big bowl of fruit or cheese and crackers around 5 or so to get them through.

    But it sounds like a bigger problem in your story isn’t the romance thing; its that you are letting the everyday requirements of life (paper towels?) overwhelm you and forgetting about the importance of small luxuries in keeping us sane (good beer, wine, cheese, etc). Seems to me I was hearing you saying you needed to deal with all these crappy things going on and maybe you should have been bringing Mark in as a partner to share earlier?

  • Sheryl August 15, 2012, 7:50 am

    Sounds like you are really having a tough time between the dogs, the skunk and the paper supplies; so sorry! I think date night is so important. It gets you out – alone, together – and helps you put all the other stuff aside, if just for a little while. Can you swap babysitting with one of your kid’s friends? Can your husband take a few hours off while your kid is in camp/school? And go and indulge in that good chocolate and beer; those small luxuries go a long way to make you feel NORMAL.

  • sharon August 15, 2012, 7:54 am

    Start a “Thursday Night Ritual” (or other time that fits best for you)– this is not the typical/traditional date night. This will be a special time you’ll always have. Tips for establishing a Marriage Ritual that never ends:
    1. It is best done every week, at the same time, and for at least 2 hours.
    2. It should be something that is simple, doable, and works for both of you as a team.
    3. Only emergencies should take precedence over your ritual; it is time together you can always count on.
    4. This is not a “date night;” it is special time that becomes a ritual you truly look forward to and enjoy 52 times a year.
    5. And, no matter how badly you may be feeling at times about your marriage and spouse, your Ritual must go on!
    It’s been part of my marriage for over 20 years and something I urge my marriage therapy clients to make happen!

  • Jessica August 15, 2012, 9:27 am

    “Couch Time”… Something my husband and I are trying this last couple months, that has really been lovely. When he gets home from work- before anything else, we go sit together on the couch for at least five minutes. We tell the three kids that it’s “couch time” and they very quickly got the concept and run off to entertain themselves. We don’t talk, at least at first. It’s not a “how was your day” chat- it’s a chance to just be together, quietly and holding hands. Then we do a little meditation- First imagining ourselves happy, surrounded by love and in a calm spirit. Then imagining the other person in that same loved state.
    It’s been amazingly effective at stopping the stress from the day into our dinner and after dinner time. And I think it’s effecting our whole relationship too.

    Thanks for posting the question. We are always looking for ways to reconnect and feel loving towards each other after a bumpy three years together, with step kids and a baby. Yikes.

  • Matt August 15, 2012, 11:54 am

    Many of these ideas sound great. I would just caution that the vital first step may be missing here. I know you’re a bibliophile, so it would be insulting to assume you haven’t actually read “The 5 Love Languages”; however, it may have been some time ago, yes? Step 1 would be to review, or retest, both of you — to relearn what you love languages are. That should help a great deal in having the best ideas in here, filtered by your & your hubby’s love languages, to shine through.

    Oh, and has anyone ever told you that you seem to be a magnet for drama? lol, sorry, but thanks again for the laughs as you share your frenzied experiences. :)

  • Rosemary August 15, 2012, 12:07 pm

    Go to bed half an hour earlier than usual so you can lie in each other’s arms and just talk sweetly and optimistically. Share some dreams (realistic or not) for the future. Talk about a sexual fantasy. (Watch out, this might lead to actual sex.) Reminisce about some fun you had together.

    Go to bed half an hour earlier than usual so you can get up half an hour earlier than usual and have a fancy breakfast together.

    Go to bed half an hour earlier than usual so you will get some extra sleep and be a little more rested and thus better able to be romantic the next day. Do this every night for a week an be amazed at how much more romantic energy you have when the weekend arrives.

  • Alexandra August 15, 2012, 1:45 pm

    These suggestions were great. Sometimes I wish you were all 40 years older, because when you are 65 and 74, carving out time isn’t enough. Good steady communication is key to romance in my book. Add to that a tender, out-of-the-ordinary gesture and romance follows.

  • Christine August 15, 2012, 9:19 pm

    Alisa I can identify with your time issue (8:00-11:00pm). That’s about what my husband and I have to work with too. Not everyone gets it when you have a husband that doesn’t get home at 5:00pm your time together and energy are limited. Even as I type this at 9:15pm my hubby is not home from work yet. (summer is brutal) I enjoy watching romantic movies or romantic comedies and this is something we enjoy doing together. Some of our favorite ones…Fools Rush In, My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Walk in the Clouds. (putting any of these DVD’s in guarantees getting laid) Notice a theme here, hum, as if marriage doesn’t come with enough issues lets add different backgrounds and heritage. Candles, wine, a good lock on the door and of course getting all the animals out of the bedroom (talking about myself here…dog and cat that feel the need to sleep next to me) should make for some nice couple time.

  • Sonia at Marriage Counselling August 20, 2012, 2:05 pm

    Make a promise to one another that you will put in that extra effort to stay connected on a emotional level. Even if it’s 9:00-11:00 in the evening. For example give each other long hugs. Go for a walk in the neighbourhood together; snuggle on the couch together or in bed. Yes it’s important to have date nights, but sometimes they don’t always happen, so in the meantime it’s important to always stay connected.

  • Maggie August 27, 2012, 4:43 pm

    I just recently discovered this blog and love it!

    After “lurking” for a while, here is my first comment!

    Feels like a special day….

    Anyway, I love this question! (though I am late in replying)

    I find that every day things can be romantic – it’s not that I don’t like going out to dinner or doing something more elaborate, but when my hubby suggests bringing home my favorite fast food or if I record a show about his favorite sci-fi author – we find those little things to be super romantic and we verbally express our appreciation for those things – which seems to make us do more of them!

    Some of our week night activities are – watching tv together – no computers as Heather mentioned above. We pause and comment on what we are watching and laugh and do it as an activity – it’s not passive “watching” at all.

    Send each other texts – maybe one or two a day sometimes more but just sort of thinking of you texts.

    Talking about our day – for me “being connected” is romantic and we connect through conversations besides other things.

    One of the best pieces of marriage advice we ever got was – the reason relationships fail is because people forget they are created every day. Create. Create. Create.
    So sometimes we look at each other and say Create! and we both laugh!

    Hope this helps!


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