By Branden DesCarpentrie

Tonight I am taking the woman I love out for Valentine’s Day.  What did you do to romance your spouse?  Maybe you purchased a dozen red roses, went to an extravagant restaurant or perhaps you got her some lingerie. Let me encourage you now…find out what really makes your wife tick.  Simply ask her what makes her feel romanced and start to practice it.  Now, you might be wondering what all this has to do with romance. Let me explain.

Several years ago, I found myself sleeping in my wife Julia’s old bedroom at my in-laws.  We were not there to visit. In fact, we lived only a few minutes away. We were there to say goodbye to a woman whose memory still makes me smile – her mom.  I was awakened to join my wife, my father-in-law, her sister, three brothers and my two sisters-in-law. As a family, we tearfully shared her last breath that night, knowing she was drawing in her next one on the other side – cancer free.

In the weeks and months following the loss of her mother, my wife coped with a huge pain-filled void in her life.   The loss also exposed another large void, one I had never before realized but that was now painfully evident. Julia had lost her biggest cheerleader, the person who gave her encouragement – something she craved in order to feel loved. I had never been that to her…in fact my gift seems to be finding what’s wrong, not right. This trait came in very handy at my job, but not so much at home. Now, instead of getting fed a daily dose of encouragement and attentive conversation, she was left with me, and because of this, our romantic relationship suffered.

Julia needed that cheerleader. Her mom wore that “uniform” before, but now I had to put it on… and it was an uncomfortable fit. It was time for me to tell her she was doing a good job, ask her how her day went and care enough to listen well. I needed to give credence to her dreams, laugh with her and honor her efforts as important.

So here I am today, three years later, writing these words and still struggling to be what came so naturally to my mother-in-law. However, here is what I’ve found: In the times when I’m walking in the Spirit and am able to encourage her like she needs to be encouraged, I find a woman who is more prepared to engage with me romantically.

Well, I am off on a date with Julia, ready to cheer her on like she deserves. For my wife, true romance begins with encouragement.