flowers and hockey tickets

So, I actually watched the new show “The Marriage Ref” Sunday evening. This was not because I particularly wanted to. It was because I sprained my ankle and strained my back Saturday morning, and the couch was pretty much the center of my weekend entertainment. The show came on after the Olympics. I did not want to get up.

But–having watched it, I feel compelled to offer some real advice to you men out there. Specifically, about Mr. “I want to spice up my marriage.” Specifically, too, to the lone woman on the panel who did not have the sense God gave her to tell him where to put the pole he had in mind. Really, I appreciated the show’s tagline that marriage is something worth fighting for. That was a good message that needs to be out there.

But, I definitely have some better advice on how to put romance back into a marriage, guys. Advice from a real world woman is preferable, I think, than advice from Kelly Ripa, who likely has never had to change a diaper or unclog a toilet in her entire existence. I am no expert, but nearly 24 years in a happy marriage entitles me to an opinion, at least. And if you ladies happen to print it and leave it lying around the house, well, we all know it was not on purpose.

1. Forget the lingerie and other lacy stuff. If she wants this, she will buy it herself. Trust me on this one. She’d rather pick it out, too.

2. Wash the dishes. There is nothing sexier than a man with a dish rag in his hand. Nothing.

3. Take out the garbage. Without an engraved invitation.

4. Take her out as a surprise. One that you plan, all by yourself. And no, tickets to the Blackhawks or dinner at a sportsbar do not count.

5. See those kids running around that look somewhat like you? Take them out somewhere. Something you plan, all by yourself. Without her.

7. Flowers work. Chocolates are iffy. They’re OK, so long as you remember those ones filled with unidentifiable cream are disgusting. No one eats these. They get left to petrify in landfills, and she will remember that you cannot remember she hates them. Safest to go with plain expensive dark. Unless she just told you she is on a diet, in which case, this could be interpreted as an act of sabotage. You will never crawl out of the hole between, “Of course I want to be supportive of your diet,” and “Of course I don’t think you’re fat.”

8. Wash her car, inside and out, fill it up, and check the fluid levels and tires. Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a full tank of gas in the morning.

9. Check her favorite movie out of the library and cook dinner. You can even call your living room Hollywood Palms, if you wish.

10. Never, ever, under any circumstances, pull the line husband #2 tried–“I am the man of the house!” You will be the man of the doghouse. Quickly.

Now, given the famous “five love languages” research, I realize that I fall firmly into the camp of “love is shown by actions” rather than the other four (words, gifts, touch, and I forget the last one, so clearly it’s not very important to me). So this list is weighted. My husband has a hard time believing this. He thinks that since I write, I logically must be a words person. But no, I side with the immortal words of Eliza Doolittle, “Don’t talk at all–show me!” Which is why I find #2 above so compelling.

But, there is yet another authority on marriage much higher than my own. “And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed for the church. He gave up His life for her.” (Ephesians 5:25) I’m pretty sure that would do it, men, no matter what your love language.

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