Editor's note: This is the second of a two-part series.
Underneath all our differences, men and women both want the same things: To be loved, cared for, respected, appreciated and desired. To have a place of safety and security where we can be ourselves, and where we can grow and mature. And we all want our intimate relationship to be outrageously romantic. I certainly do. Don't you?
Imagine how you would feel if, in the middle of a party of other social event, she turned to you and said "I can't imagine my life without you in it." Or if he said "I'm glad I married you." Imagine playing footsies under the table in an elegant restaurant, charging him 20 kisses for you making dinner - or for him taking your car in and getting your tires rotated. Or imagine him kissing your hand like you were British royalty. Or if she ran her hands under hot water before she joined you in bed.
Those are called romantic gestures, and they are one of the things that will put a bounce in your step and make you feel intoxicated with warm, loving, intimate and lustful feelings.
In honor of Valentine's week, here is a continuation of "secrets" for how to turn your relationship into a love affair all over again, courtesy of Gregory J P Godek in his book "1,001 Ways to be Romantic":
Learn what she likes/wants. Get it for her, but hold onto it for several weeks (or months). This gives her time to forget about it, or to think you have forgotten. Surprise her with it when she least expects it. And don't give practical items (such as a toaster oven or sweatshirt) as a gift for any romantic occasion.
Call your lover on the phone. Make up a love song on the spot and sing it to her. Make up the words and the tune - and just keep singing. It doesn't have to make any sense or be musically talented. You'll generate laughter as well as appreciation.
Write reminders to yourself in your calendar or smart phone---two weeks in advance of her birthday, anniversary and any other important occasion - so important dates don't sneak up on you. You can then be prepared to send a card, buy a gift or make a reservation.
Gift-wrap your gifts. Remember that the presentation is almost as important as the gift itself. You do a great disservice to yourself and your relationship when you're too casual about how you offer your gifts and presents. Nicely wrapped gifts have twice the impact as those that are poorly presented.
Do you know what your partner finds erotic? Are you sure you know? Here's something you might try: talk about what each of you considers to be erotic and sexy. Be open to new and different ways of erotic expression.
Go hiking. Go tobogganing. Go to a ballgame. Go to a park. Go for a drive in the country. Go to a public garden. Go to an outdoor concert. Go on a picnic. Go for a walk. Go fly a kite, share a board game, play cards or toss a frisbee. Make sure you're not letting your life together get stale or boring.
Whisper sweet nothings in her ear while out in public. Or try whispering shocking comments and lewd suggestions to her at a more formal gathering. That should add a little spark for the evening!
Romantics are always "dating." In fact, regularly going out on dates is every bit as important for long-married couples as it is for people who are just getting to know each other.
Advice for single guys: How to catch her: Learn to dance. How to keep her: Learn to cook.
Make a toast to one another every time you hold a wine glass. Make eye contact. Take turns making the toast. Write your own words of love. Some ideas: Reasons I Fell in Love With You; Reasons I Still Love You; Ways You Turn Me On; Things I Look Forward To With You; Things I Admire or Respect About You, or write your own version of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's famous poem: "How do I love thee, let me count the ways..."
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. His column is in its 20th year of publication, and is syndicated around the world. You can reach him at 303-758-8777, or email him through his website: www.heartrelationships.com.