Mystery and Romance: Does a Christian Marriage Need Them?
- 2010 13 Feb
Mystery and romance are traits we often associate with the dating days -- when two lovebirds delight in the process of discovering one another. The glow of these early days often fades as familiarity, responsibility, and routine settle in, leaving many wives feeling empty and discouraged. But did God intend for women to say goodbye to mysteriousness - and the accompanying romance - once rings are exchanged?
In her book The Woman of Mystery: Unveiling the Secret to True Romance, Hayley DiMarco asserts that married life is not meant to be void of either mystery or romance. In an interview with Crosswalk, Hayley shares some common mistakes wives make and how they can reawaken romance in their lives and in their marriages.
CW: Why write a book about romance when couples have pressing, unromantic issues to worry about like the economic downturn?
Hayley DiMarco: When I talk to women, married and single, they have this vision of their lives. They hope life will be something really romantic. I don't think that ever goes away even when times get rough. We still go to our chick flicks and think, Oh, wouldn't it be great if life was like that? Women are longing for [romance], but they are not finding it. My husband and I counsel really troubled marriages. We see a lot of problems stemming from expectations on the woman's side. I really felt like this was an opportunity to write a book that would help women who aren't content with where they are, who thought life was going to be more than what it is, and [who] want to understand how to better their relationship with the men in their lives.
CW: What role does mystery play in marriage?
HD: I think that is what appeals to men in the female body and the female form -- it's mysterious. It's not like theirs. The way we act is different. It's intriguing.
A lot of women think [mystery] is for the single girl -- they know she has got to be a little mysterious so he stays interested. The trouble comes when we drop the mystery, and we want to "keep it real." We tell men everything about us, about our past, about our health problems... we talk on and on. It's just, "Here I am, take it or leave it."
[Men] throw romance out the window when they marry us, because they caught their prize. Why would they work to catch what they already caught? I think the same thing happens for women. We catch the guy, so why do we have to keep up the mystery? Why can't she wear her sweat suit and hang out and not do her hair? We change, and the guy thinks, this is not the woman I married, that tried so hard. It's not alluring to any man, married or single.
CW: Some people would say the great thing about marriage is that you know everything about each other and you are comfortable. So, what does mystery look like in married life?
HD: I think that for most of us, we get confused, and we think that love means giving people what we love. But love is really about knowing the other person and giving them what they love. I find that a lot of us tend to be occupied with self. Mystery does not do that. Mystery looks at the person we are with… and thinks: What is he interested in? What would drive him crazy? Does more talking make him crazy? Does he just want to sit down and watch TV?
A happy marriage is both partners continuing to be aware of the desires and wants of the other. Wouldn't the world be an amazing place if we all did that? Really, this is just an opportunity for women to relearn mystery.
CW: Do you have some observations on what men typically want from their wives?
HD: I think you will find that the majority of men want to be admired. Admired for the work they have done or the money they've brought in. They want to be admired for manly things.
It is really easy for women to admire men for doing feminine things, like, "Oh, I love how you went shopping with me today," or "I love how you cook when we cooked together," but that doesn't really build him up. They like to be admired for their masculinity.
Now, for the men that maybe don't feel like they are really masculine: I've talked to some of them. They say, "I'm not masculine. I'm kind of a computer geek." You still say to them that you admire them for their intelligence, for the things they do, like critical thinking. A male characteristic in the mental areas is singular thinking. Men can really focus. That is something a woman can admire about men, where we [women] can be multitasking.
CW: In Christian circles, marriage is often talked about in terms of sacrifice and not in terms of romantic feelings. How would you respond to that?
HD: The number one goal of marriage is sanctification. I think that is an amazing goal -- to be made more like Christ. Who would argue that is not a fantastic goal? Now the process of it is painful. It is very painful to have somebody say, you know what you just did? That was a sin. But I think that there is still, almost in our DNA as women, this desire for romance.
True romance, I think, is really the call on our heart. True romance is a romance that really was made for the Creator. The amazing things God does in our lives, the interaction we can have with Him just walking out and looking at mountains, seeing thunder or lightening, is breathtaking. I think God is the essence of the romance that we crave.
We try to duplicate it in our human relationships, because we have this idea that love is a feeling. I think we lie to ourselves and believe that marriage should make us feel a certain way every day. That is a great deception from the enemy. Scripture never commands us to feel anything. Nor does it really ask us to seek out any kind of feeling other than joy, which comes from God every time.
CW: But there can be romance in your marriage as well?
HD: Most definitely. I think that the more you are able to take your responsibility off your husband to make you happy, the happier you become.
I believe that every man wants his woman to be happy. I think that's really his number one goal. Because if he has a happy wife, it tells his masculine heart he has accomplished what he was supposed to do. And men are about goals. If a woman isn't happy about something that happened at work, a man feels responsible. That's why he wants to fix it. Or he might get dark and depressed. It's contagious, because he feels like he has failed.
When a woman is happy, suddenly a man thinks he is doing it right. He feels more like a man. He feels more attracted to you. He feels more interested in you. Then romance just kind of springs to life. Where there was none before, he's like, she is turning me on now instead of dragging me down.
I think romance shouldn't be the goal of your marriage; it should be the symptom. In other words, your goal is love and then out of that comes romance, but if your goal is romance, it doesn't ever come to pass. You might have manufactured romance generated by having the perfect setting. By saying, I've got to go to dinner at this place and then go dancing and have the candles. Please have the kids gone. That might be romantic for an hour or two, but then life comes back. The dishes need to be washed, and the kids need you.
CW: If you're comfortable, could you give an example of how these concepts have improved your own marriage?
HD: I was the typical woman who thought that the end all be all was going to be marriage. I wanted someone to go on my walks with me. I wanted someone to go shopping with me. I wanted someone to cook dinner with me and eat with me. All these kinds of things we see in chick flicks.
I was 37 when I got married. I married a "man's man" who wasn't interested in shopping or cooking. I knew that going in, but I knew he was the one.
Our marriage started to crumble early on. We were fighting a lot, because we didn't know. We were thinking, what have we gotten into? We are opposites. He's a man, and I'm a woman - totally opposite.
As I started to look to God for answers instead of to Michael, Michael didn't change, but I did. Suddenly, I felt that rush of romance again like when we were dating just from spending time understanding God's purpose in my life and finding romance alone and romance in the moment, in the early morning, in all kinds of different scenarios.
Our marriage lightened, and I could tell he didn't feel that horrible feeling of being unsuccessful with making me happy. I became giddy and joyful again. The romance didn't come first, but it started to come after that. I watched him really change.
I think we have in our hands the ability to control the romance, not in the way we think, but by putting everything that we are longing for in the hands of the Father instead of in the hands of the man who is broken, who is sinful, who is not going to achieve what we want him to achieve.
Thank you for your thoughts, Hayley.
Learn more or purchase The Woman of Mystery at http://www.thewomanofmystery.com/.