Talking about romance, it is one word that has been given different interpretations, depending on who is talking about it. For the sake of our discussion, we would like to define romance as the deliberate and consistent action you undertake in the pursuit of your spouse’s heart, attention and happiness. Hence, romance is not selfish; it focuses on meeting the emotional needs of the other and in the process, your needs would be met as well.

Romance is the deliberate and consistent action you undertake in the pursuit of your spouse’s heart, attention and happiness.

There are few things couples, particularly African couples, must put into consideration. These things are unique to us as Africans and must be addressed if the romantic spice in our marriages must be kept fresh. They are as highlighted below:

#1: KNOW That Romance is NOT European!

Some people believe that being romantic is an European or an American thing! Their belief is often that marriage is a serious matter, where boundaries must be defined, roles clarified; and that emotional intimacy is only during sexual intercourse.

Marriage is real life, hence we must make up our minds to make it fun, build friendship with our spouses, and travel together to enjoy life. Intimacy and marital romance is not automatic. Couples who do not deliberately connect with each other, wake up one day to discover that they have been living as complete strangers.

The opposite of intimacy is growing apart. Learn to deliberately build routines and activities you enjoy together into your marriage; make each other feel special. Make your marital romance a priority.

#2: Don’t Center Your Marriage Around Your Children!

As Africans, we ‘value’ children for various reasons. Sometimes, it is because they represent fruitfulness; a sign of marital blessing, a way of ‘preserving’ our name or legacy, or simply, our ‘pension-plan’. As a matter of fact, as a couple you have little choice in the matter because the society puts pressure on you through direct and indirect comments, gestures, facial expressions at parties, family gatherings, etc.

In fact, I heard about a woman who was refused from carrying a new baby for fear that she would infest the family with her childlessness — a synonym for bad luck. This is unfortunate, but it is even more unfortunate when couples allow it to ruin their marital romance. The fact is that when the children eventually come, you would have lost years — years you could have taken advantage of to bond and enjoy each others’ company.

SEE: Infertility: Why Some Ladies Are Barren (And Unable To Have Kids)!

On the other hand, some couples choose to have children immediately, barely knowing each other. They must make some adjustments, considering the dramatic changes that children (our bundle of joy) bring in order to keep their marital romance intact. Make your marital romance a priority.

#3: Learn To Break the so-called “African rules”!

There are cultural rules that we must break if we are to enjoy marital romance. For instance, men don’t help out at home, especially in the kitchen, women are EXCLUSIVELY responsible for the home front. We are aware that many couples have moved beyond this paradigm, but we still encounter many who subconsciously adhere to it.

For instance, if only men understood what it takes to wake up early, “drag” the children out of bed, bathe them, dress them up, feed them, pack their lunch, get them ready for the school bus and sometimes, drop them off (when the school bus runs late or does not show up at all)…before getting ready for work, they would, probably, be more empathetic.

Break the rules and gender stereotypes if you want to build a formidable marital romance. If your wife’s love language is ‘acts of service’, you would be amazed at how she would transform when you make up your mind to help out at home, bond with the children, etc.. Make your marital romance a priority.

#4: Learn How To Spice Up The Sex!

For a woman, sex is not automatic. Most men can get ready for sex in an instant, but it takes a woman more time. Hence, as a romantic man, you must build up her emotions throughout the day, starting from the morning, SMS and phone calls during the day, helping out at home, non-sexual touches, speaking assuring words, telling her how much you love her, etc. Don’t just disappear during the day, and reappear at night for some sexual treats.

SEE: 6 Simple Sex Tips And Tricks

On the other, women should learn to initiate sex more, don’t always wait for him to take the lead. Generally, couples should create an emotionally safe marriage where sexual needs and expectations are discussed. “Assumption is the lowest level of knowledge”, says Sam Adeyemi.

SEE: Will She Ever Be In The Mood For Sex?

Focus on deeply satisfying each other, as long as it does not demean, harm or go against your spouse’s will. Make your marital romance a priority.

#5:Break The Influence Of In-laws And Relatives!

In Africa, extended families often exert some influence, sometimes subtly. For instance, very early in the morning, one could hear a knock at the door, only to see an uncle or a cousin pop in from nowhere, with no phone call or prior notice, to live with you for weeks. This is often because of our communal orientation to life which often binds families together, helping them survive difficult times.

However, we must learn to consciously, but respectfully, bring a balance to the needs of our extended families and to that of our marriages. Make your marital romance a priority.

The quality of marriage we would have in the next 5, 10 or 20 years, would be determined by the little steps we take today.

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Victor Akunna is a Relationship Coach and member of The Coaching Academy, UK. He is focused on helping individuals, couples and companies build sustainable and valuable relationships with key stakeholders. He is fondly called The Relationship Catalyst. He and his lovely wife, Chidi, run “Romance Masterclass” – a coaching programme, and write “Connected Hearts” – a leading daily devotional on spicing up marital romance, while also running Foundation for Family Affairs – a charity focused on strengthening families around the globe. You can connect with him on BBM: 73E8821E, Twitter: @FamilyAffairs05, and Facebook.