In the beginning of your relationship, wowing each other was fairly easy. Your every desire was to win the heart of that special guy or gal. Somehow, when time has passed, it becomes more challenging to continue to win their heart over and over.
My grandfather married and loved my grandmother for over 50 years before she passed away. How did he do it? Day by day, he loved her well. I am determined that his example will raise the odds of making it 50 or more years with my wife.
Here are some of the romantic things that he did.
My grandfather owned his own business and supplemented with side businesses most of his adult life. His work hours were usually unpredictable, long, and often extend late into the night. While he frequently took the time to express his love to my grandmother, he did not see her as often as he would have liked.
So to enhance his opportunity to share his passion for her, he would leave her notes that she could find while he slept or worked. Learning from him, I stole his favorite phrase that he would use with his grandchildren, great grandchildren, and my grandmother: “I love you more.”
Today, I leave sticky notes for my wife that say ILYM in assorted places that she will discover when she is least expecting it. On the mirror, on the roll of toilet paper, under her towel or in the book that she is currently reading – any place that you can think of will fit the bill. These notes share a thought that I am thinking of her, and that I love her.
In the bleary eyed hours of the morning, my grandfather would be out delivering newspapers and get home while it was still early. He would wake up my grandmother with a cup of coffee mixed with the right amount of cream and sugar, just as she liked it.
This habit was so ingrained that for almost a year after she passed away, he still caught himself making her cup of coffee alongside of his.
Today, I prepare my wife’s cup of coffee each morning. Then I wake her up with a gentle kiss on the forehead to help her get going. This is one of the easiest romantic things you can do for that special someone in your life.
3. The right gifts.
The right gift is critical. One morning, I talked to a girl who hates flowers and chocolate, which is often a standard gift boys might buy for a girl.
My grandfather knew the romantic things that would sing to my grandmother. Anything with the St. Louis Cardinal logo on it was usually a hit. She was not big on jewelry, but did like perfume. She did the administrative work for his businesses, so stationery and pen sets also did the trick.
The key that he demonstrated was that he took the time to know her, and then bought her gifts to match those desires.
Today, I routinely ask my wife what she wants for special holidays or birthdays. But I also pay attention when we are out to take note of things she seems to appreciate or like. Yes, this means that I have to go antique shopping with her from time to time, in order to gather the most accurate data. But the sacrifice pays off when I get the right gift.
When my grandmother walked into the room, it did not seem to matter how tired or distracted he might have been; his whole being would light up because she was there. A huge smile crossed his face, just as if he was seeing her for the first time. His eyes would gleam. He would greet her warmly, usually with a measure of affection.
It’s one of the many romantic things that really make an impact. Today, I purposely go to my wife first thing when I get home. I grab her, and ensure that she knows that I am happy to see her.
They found opportunities to share their favorite hobbies together. With eight children, they always had plenty to do. But the focus was always on each other. They would take walks, visit the family farm, or go to a baseball game. It was a deliberate effort to separate from everyone else and just be alone with each other.
Today, I look forward to the end of the day when I can sit on the couch with my wife in front of the fire and just talk. It is in these times that I can share concerns that might be too heavy for the kids to hear. I enjoy taking walks with my wife and shopping expeditions. Anything that gets me time alone with my bride.
6-7. Support and Encouragement.
With eight children, emotions had to be a rollercoaster for them. There were great achievements and events, as well as disappointments and fears. But through it all, my grandfather echoed his mother who would bellow out in a thick, German accent:
“You must be optimistic.”
They held each other up through moves back and forth across the country, and through other life-changing challenges.
Today, I look for ways to support my wife as she tries to find ways to make extra cash. She makes and sells mittens, substitutes for teachers, and looks for opportunities to do odd jobs. She raises chickens that sometimes lay eggs and sometimes choose to be butchered.
Through it all, I look for ways to support her efforts with kind words, a ride some place, lifting heavy boxes, or even delivering products.
8. Positive gossip.
When grandma was not in the room, grandpa would tell stories about some fantastic thing she had said or done recently. But he would always finish up by telling us that it was our little secret. He talked about her routinely – but only the good stuff. Not once did I ever hear him say a negative word about her.
Today, I strive to do the same romantic things. When my kids were small, I would tell them some sweet secret about my wife and order them not to tell her about it, knowing the entire time that they would instantly go and inform her. It was a fun game that I look forward to bringing back someday when I have grandkids.
Routinely, I would see grandpa serving my grandmother. When he handed her the mail, he also made sure that her glasses were nearby. I watched him bring her a plate of food at a family reunion. It seemed like he was looking for ways that he could serve her.
Today, I make sure my breakfast dishes are done before I leave for the day, put the toilet seat down, and clean the bathroom once a week. In the winter, I make sure there is a fire in the fireplace and wood waiting to be added as needed. My boys are seeing this desire to serve. If any of us are around, my wife does not touch a door.
10. Laugh together.
Grandpa loved nothing better than a good laugh. He would look for the comedy in our everyday world. Later in the day, he would share those with grandma so that they both could laugh.
I am not talking about a polite chuckle here. He would look for the most outrageous thing he could find, and exaggerate for effect just so he could make her laugh.
Today, I do the same at work and in my daily adventures. I am nowhere near as good at this as grandpa was, but I make a fair attempt at it everyday.
While grandpa is no longer with us, his legacy continues to impact me in remarkable ways. My grandparents were serious back when they made their vows, “Til death do you part.” I want to experience my marriage in the same way. With Grandpa’s example and these romantic things, I just might pull this off.