A fresh perspective…
Tobi Layton

I would make a great husband. Really. I come up with some of the most romantic ideas. Sometimes my imagination gets the best of me, and I'm just sure I'll open the door to find my husband holding a bouquet of wildflowers, petals strewn about the floor, candles flickering, and Louis Armstrong softly singing "What a Wonderful World" on the CD player.

In actuality, it's more likely that I'll open the door to find Ryan reading a hunter's magazine, dirty laundry strewn about the floor, every light on in the house, and a baseball game blaring on the TV.

Like many men, Ryan does have a romantic streak—it's just very well hidden. When we were dating, he wrote me a poem once, and brought me roses on several occasions. He sold a prized hunting dog to afford the perfect engagement ring. And even after four years of marriage he'll shock me with a sweet gesture every now and then.

But I often find myself disappointed because I'm far more romantic than he.

Sometimes I try to force romance by suggesting things he could do for me or pointing out tender scenes from Hollywood movies that we could "spontaneously" act out. "Let's go outside and look at the stars and dance!" I'll whisper in his ear. But I've found that a gesture is only romantic when it comes from the heart—his heart, not mine.

In my pursuit of romance, I realize I am overlooking something far more priceless—everyday love. I'm learning that the kind of love story that wouldn't make a very exciting movie, makes for a wonderful marriage. Even though Ryan may not come home with flowers every day, I know he will always come home. He may never take me to Paris, but he will take me anywhere God leads him in his lifetime. And he may not say it with poetry, but every day he says—with words and with actions—those three little words that create the climax in so many movies.

And that is true romance.

A seasoned perspective…
Deborah Raney

I write novels about family drama. My books almost always contain an element of romance. But for any success I've had in that department, I must give my husband full credit. He is the romantic one in our marriage. I'm simply along for the ride.

Don't get me wrong. I love that Ken is so creative and expressive in showing his love for me. The man could fill his own book with all the sweet and thoughtful things he's done for me in our thirty-plus years of marriage. A poetic message in a bottle, surprise weekend getaways, love notes on my pillow when he's away on business, personalized fortune cookies declaring his love, and once, a gorgeous bouquet of flowers whose initials spelled out my name (Daisy, Enchantment lilies, Bachelor buttons, and flowers for O, R, A and H that I can't remember now. See how unromantic I am?)

But what a man! I feel greatly blessed. Still, sometimes he's a tough act to follow. About five years ago we started taking turns planning special dates for each other. Ken's dates are always unique and elaborate and utterly romantic. I spend two weeks before my turn in a panic, my mind an absolute blank. And more often than not, what I finally come up with has been done a bazillion times. As a writer, I hate clichés, yet I seem to be the queen of cliché when it comes to romance.

One thing I've discovered though: if your husband is like mine, you can't go wrong with a good meal, his favorite dessert, and some well-chosen lingerie.

Watching my parents, married more than fifty years now, and my husband's grandparents, whose marriage has spanned over seventy years, this year I am encouraged that romance is something God intended would bring us joy "till death do us part." Through their loving relationships, I realize that the roots of romance thrive in something so simple, yet so profound—companionship and friendship. The little everyday things we share.

What a blessing when a woman can look at her husband, or a man at his wife and say along with the writer of the Song of Solomon, "This is my lover, this is my friend."

Discussion:

Read Song of Solomon 1:2-4 and Ephesians 5:21-33

1. Reading these Scripture passages, what do you think was God's intention for marriage, concerning romance?

2. Who is more romantic, you or your spouse? Has it ever caused conflict between you when one of you is "romantically challenged?"

3. How are romance and friendship connected in marriage? Do you believe you can have one without the other? Why or why not?

4. What are the obstacles that might hinder romance in the season of life you are in? Brainstorm with your spouse to come up with creative ways to overcome these obstacles.

5. Think about what made you fall in love with your spouse when you were first together. How can such thoughts help you rekindle the romance in your marriage?

6. If romance is a missing element in your marriage, ask God to renew your love for one another, and perhaps seek out some of the many Christian books on the subject.

Originally posted May 10, 2006


Deborah Raney is at work on her nineteenth novel. Her first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Her books have won the National Readers' Choice Award, Silver Angel for Excellence in Media, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. Her newest series, the Hanover Falls Novels, will release from Howard/Simon & Schuster. She and her husband, Ken Raney, have been married for 36 years. They have four children, two little grandsons, and enjoy small- town life in Kansas. Visit Deborah's website at http://www.deborahraney.com.

Tobi Layton is a fifth grade teacher and freelance writer in southeast Missouri. Tobi has been married for eight years to Ryan Layton, a high school biology teacher. Tobi and Ryan are involved with the high school and junior high youth groups at their church in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The Laytons have two sons.

Tobi Layton is the daughter of Ken and Deborah Raney. The Raneys and the Laytons share an August 11 wedding anniversary.