I've always been a bit of a romantic. In our dating days, I pictured married life filled with quiet dinners, soft lights and no dirty pans in sight. And definitely no dirty diapers. It was a lot easier to create a fairytale life when we didn't have so many responsibilities.
These days, I can easily get lost in the day to day challenges of just keeping my home going. The last thought on my mind sometimes is setting the mood for romance. For me, creating ambience is critical to a romantic mood in the home. Not just in the bedroom, but throughout the house.
Here are a few tips:
Freshen up the bedroom ?& bathroom
If the laundry piled up on the bed during the day, the kids flung their pull-ups or undies across the floor, or if your cereal bowl is still on the bathroom counter, take just a few moments to freshen things up. Seeing unsightly reminders of your long day will kill the romantic ambience pretty quickly.
End the day earlier
If you tend to be tired in the evenings (aren't we all once we get to be "our age"), do as your grandparents probably did and start having "supper" instead of dinner. Meaning, eat earlier if you can! The earlier you can eat and clean up, the more time you have in the evening to enjoy relaxation. And adjust the kids bedtime if you can pull that off! It is nice to have a couple of child-free hours in the evenings.
Another tip my husband and I used when our kids were young was to feed the kids separately once in awhile. I could get them fed before my husband even got home. Then, after the kids had a little time with daddy, we'd put them to bed and have our own dinner together, just like having a dinner date at home!
If your house smells like leftover fish tacos after dinner, air things out! Spray some perfume or heat some scented oil. Or bake something yummy to override the offending odor!
Break out the pretty dishes
I'm not a fancy gourmet cook so if I want to have a romantic at home date with my husband, I rely on pretty dishes and a couple of candles to make things look more appetizing. A simple set of white dishes can be so lovely on a table. For a fun dessert date night, you can pudding in clear stemmed goblets and brownies on a fancy cake plate.
Turn on the mood lighting
As the daylight starts to fade, turn down the bright lights in the house too. Use lamps instead of overhead lighting. Once the kids have gone to bed, light candles to lend a pretty glow to end tables.
Light a fire
If you have a fireplace, use it! We now have a gas fireplace so it is easier to flip on a switch for instant warmth and ambience. If building a fire is not possible, set up a bunch of candles to give off light and sparkle. If you have small children you can use battery operated candles.
Are you turning into an old married couple with a predictable evening routine? Gulp. If you usually clean up after dinner, put the kids to bed and then watch TV the rest of the night, try mixing up the routine by playing a board game next to the fireplace or reading out loud to each other curled up on the couch. Or, re-read your love letters or re-live your memories of your early dating days. At first you might think it sounds corny or forced, or you might think your old routine is pretty comfortable, but routines can get dull. And dull is NOT romantic.
Music to your ears
Instead of flipping on the TV every evening to fill the silence, fire up your iPod or stereo with some more romantic background tunes.
By the end of the day, I am usually really tired. I work hard right up until the end of the day. Not only do I need to end my day earlier, but I need to shift my thinking from work and housekeeping to setting a romantic tone — both around the house and in my attitude. I don't want to make the house all pretty and romantic and then ruin the ambience by my attitude!
It's all about making your marriage a priority in ways that work for you.
(By the way, our relationship with God is a lot like this too.)
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What do you do to keep the romance alive at home and in your heart?