“There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand: … and [one of them is] the way of a man with a maiden” (Proverbs 30:18-19).

On February 14, 2011, it will be Saint Valentine’s Day—a day when lovers will be expressing their affections and fondness for each other. Although we ought to be expressing these virtues to one another daily, especially in marriage, we must be grateful that in God’s good providence, humanity has set aside one day a year to celebrate what the Bible calls “the way of a man with a maiden”. That way, even those of us who are forgetful will be reminded that we need to think of something special to tell “the one I love” that we really love them.

Sadly, in many cases, “love” is merely a tool to hook love-starved girls into pre-marital sex. Once that is over, they are discarded like used toilet tissue down the toilet. Many women who have found themselves in marriage are now the greatest skeptics on the subject of love. They can only relive their childhood dreams by watching blue movies or reading love novels. The taps ran dry as soon as the honeymoon was over or until Junior was born!

Sex Alone is not Romance

Why has “the way of a man with a maiden” been so easily lost in marriage? I think that it is because we tend to equate romance in marriage with sex. This is especially so if we have a protracted foreplay. Surely, we convince ourselves afterwards, that was romantic! But, think for a moment. If this equation is true then your courtship was devoid of romance, since, I would like to believe, it was devoid of sex—i.e. if you take God’s commands seriously.

However, I am sure you look back to those days as perhaps the most romantic of your lives. No, romance is not equal to sex. Foreplay and sex are the icing and cherry on the cake of romance. In courtship we enjoy the cake without the icing and cherry (and rightly so!), but alas, most of us have marriages that are all icing and cherry with no cake! I hope that is not your case.

Romance is Indescribable

What then is romance? It defies description. The wise man in Proverbs admits that “the way of a man with a maiden” is too amazing for him. All we can do is unpack a few of its ingredients to see if these are part of your on-going relationship in marriage. Let me give you at least two. One aspect of romance is friendship and togetherness. Do you remember how in courtship your friendship grew by leaps and bounds as you spent quality time together? You wanted to be together, to have fun together, to visit together, to play games together, to take walks together, to go shopping together, to eat together, to just sit and chat together. Remember how time flew when you were together? How are you faring now in this regard?

Another aspect of romance is the surprise tokens you share with each other. These are sometimes simply in the form of words—either audible or written. You reserve the most romantic words for each other. You complement each other in the most endearing way. It is amazing what intimacy comes between two people simply through words. A friend of mine is fond of writing love poems to his wife—yes, to his wife! Then the surprise tokens can also be in terms of gifts—on birthdays, anniversaries, after a trip out of town, and on any other day. It needs to be emphasised here that surprise gifts need not be expensive. It is the thought put into it that really matters. Are these still on-going features in your marriage or have they all been relegated to the role of foreplay in bed?

Is Your Spouse Your Best Friend?

Perhaps the best litmus test for romance in marriage is to answer the question: Is your spouse your best friend? I know he or she was when you were courting, but is that still the case today? This question can only be answered from the heart. Where romance is still part of your marriage, there will be an intensity and excitement when answering that question. You can’t miss the enthusiasm. However, where the flames of affection have begun to burn low, the answer is either a “no” or a reluctant and dutiful “yes”.

The list of aspects of romance is endless. Those of us who are Christians do not need to wait for Valentine’s Day to engage in any of them to remind our spouses that we really love them. Surely, the Bible teaches us that God has wired us for the tender emotions of romance not only in courtship but much more in marriage. We must cherish our spouses in such a way that they feel that they are very special to us.

Do not leave Valentine’s Day to the vultures who simply want to exploit young ladies who are love-starved and leave them worse than they found them. Those of you who truly love your spouses, go out there and show the world “the [true] way of a man with a maiden”. Do it on St Valentine’s Day, but more than that do it every day of your life—“till death parts us”. Amen!