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Romance in Marriage

The 7 Secrets of Happily Ever After

Garden of Romance


In order for romance to thrive in your marriage, you must create a healthy relationship environment for your mate. Such an environment is a protected garden that will free the feminine nature of your wife or the masculine nature of your husband, enabling her or him to blossom and better meet your relationship needs. Without proper care, the romantic nature of your mate will wither and die.

Instead of water, sunshine, and minerals, the elements necessary for the healthy growth of your mate’s romantic nature are various attitudes that you must develop and actions that you must take. As you develop these attitudes and take these actions, you will be providing a relationship environment in which your mate can develop specific romantic traits. Your mate has the natural ability to respond to such an environment in a positive way. You need but provide it, then stand back and watch the miracles happen.

The basic tools of romance gardening are described on this page. They are skills that facilitate positive communication and relationship development. Use them wisely, lovingly, and sincerely. Their proper use is vital for the general health of a romantic relationship.

If you treat a woman like a thoroughbred, you won’t have a nag…A woman is like a garden. If you don’t cultivate her, all you’ll get is weeds!—Ellen Kreidman


Master it. Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool that you can use to help your mate better meet your relationship needs, and to generally increase compatibility in your romantic relationship. There are two basic principles of human behavior: 1) behavior is strengthened or weakened by its consequences, and 2) behavior ultimately responds better to positive consequences. Behaviors you want from your mate, but that are inconvenient for them to give you may not last long unless you regularly do something to make them worth the effort. That something may be as simple as an occasional sincere expression of appreciation. Smiles, loving looks and reciprocal acts are other means of providing positive reinforcement to your mate. Positive reinforcement should be conducted continually in a romantic relationship. It is a powerful way that lovers have to encourage desirable behavior in each other.

One of the easiest and most effective methods of positive reinforcement is expressing appreciation. When your mate finally does it right, tell him or her in a sincere and respectful way that you really appreciate the thoughtful behavior. Your mate will then be more likely to repeat the behavior, or to repeat it more often. Remember to express appreciation even for the kind, respectful, responsible, and thoughtful things that your mate already does consistently. Frequent and sincere expressions of appreciation for your mate’s desirable behaviors will increase the probability that those behaviors will continue and that additional desirable behaviors will develop. Everybody wants and needs to feel appreciated. A wife who does not work outside the home, and thus does not receive the validation of a paycheck or other expressions of appreciation from a boss or coworkers particularly needs to hear expressions of appreciation from her husband. Appreciation can be expressed through words, gifts, notes, smiles, touches, or in other ways.

You can also provide positive reinforcement by giving compliments. For example, to encourage judicious spending in your mate, wait until he or she makes a good decision (such as not impulsively buying something that he or she really wants), and then compliment your mate on his or her wisdom and strength in making the decision.

Be careful not to criticize your mate’s attempts at desirable behaviors. Focus on the positive, not the lack of perfection. Criticism will discourage your mate, and likely put an end to the desirable behavior. For example, when your husband brings you flowers, don’t point out that they look like they were the last ones on the shelf and will probably wither and die before tomorrow (But when he brings you higher quality flowers, do point out how fresh they are, and compliment him on his skills as a floral connoisseur).

Romance requires PATIENCE

You have to be patient because you have no other choice. Just as you cannot force a plant to grow and bear fruit, you cannot force change in your mate. You can only provide a healthful environment, communicate your desires in a loving way, and (in extreme circumstances) perhaps set some boundaries. The response is up to your mate. Trying to harvest the fruit before it is ready will only produce disappointment and discouragement. Gardening requires patience. Your mate may not immediately respond to the improved environment you provide. He or she may need time to develop a certain degree of trust in your intentions. Be patient. You are in it for the long term. If you are patient, the rewards will come, and keep coming, in due time.


Every woman has a little girl inside of her, and every man, a little boy. Never do anything to hurt that little girl or boy. Like a growing plant with fragile new shoots, your mate requires gentleness and tenderness. Hurt feelings often take longer than physical wounds to heal. They cause walls to be built that become barriers to trust and romance. Your spouse should have no reason at all to fear you. Be sure to take the smart talk course.

Romance requires a POSITIVE OUTLOOK

Thinking and communicating cheerfully and optimistically with your partner are vital for romance to survive. Four of Dr. John Gottman’s seven marriage tips1 relate to positive communication: “Soften your start up,” “Learn to repair and exit the argument,” “Focus on the bright side,” and “Edit yourself.” Focus on your mate’s good qualities, and express appreciation for them. Never try to manipulate, coerce, or punish your mate. Believe that your mate will become the man or woman he or she ought to be of his or her own volition once you provide a healthy environment by being the person that you ought to be.

Focus on the bright side. No matter how hard your mate tries, he or she will not be perfect in this life, and neither will you. Romance is a project that you work on happily together — a journey that you enjoy together. If your mate were flawless, he or she would certainly not have married you, so be grateful for what you have. Happiness does not require perfection, but it does require that you focus on your mate’s desirable attributes. Focusing on the negative will not get you anywhere, and will make romance impossible. Try the following trick to help brighten your world.

  • Make a list of 10-20 of the most desirable attributes of your mate.
  • Read the list daily to yourself, and spend time thinking about your mate, and how thankful you are for him or her.
  • Express appreciation to your mate for one of those attributes daily.
  • Express appreciation to God for one of those attributes daily.
  • In your conversations with other people, only mention or discuss your mate’s desirable attributes.

Give the benefit of the doubt. When your mate says or does something that can be interpreted in a hurtful or a non-hurtful way, choose to interpret it in the non-hurtful way. That is how you would want your words to be interpreted.

Keep your expectations up. According to the Gottman institute, “Happy couples have high standards for each other even as newlyweds. The most successful couples are those who, even as newlyweds, refused to accept hurtful behavior from one another. The lower the level of tolerance for bad behavior in the beginning of a relationship, the happier the couple is down the road.”1

1“Gottman’s top relationship tips” at Gottman Institute (

Romance requires HUMILITY

Be strong and trusting enough to be wrong, to admit that you are wrong, and to accept help in fixing your faults.

Romance requires WISDOM

Whatever the difficulties in your marriage, they are not unique. Somewhere there are answers. Study and learn those answers, then apply them. To continue struggling in the dark is a waste of time when you could be enjoying romantic love.

Romance requires WORK

You want a reality show? Turn off the television and experience life. A healthy friendship is the starting point for a vibrant romance in marriage. As you demonstrate certain behaviors in your relationship with your spouse, your shared friendship will quickly improve, and he or she will be encouraged to change his or her behavior in ways that will further improve the friendship. The most powerful thing you can do is focus on your behaviors, and let your spouse respond as he or she will naturally be inclined to do.

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