I recently read an article written by a Catholic woman in which she outlined ways to romance your husband. I must admit, the article left me more than a little flummoxed.
The ideas put forth in the article included the suggestions “Leave a lacy unmentionable in his gym bag or briefcase so he’ll find it during the day at work;” “Go on a “New Fragrance Date” at the mall. His job is to pick out a new sexy perfume for you, and you’ll choose a new cologne for him.;” “Always affirm and compliment him in public;” and “Buy a Groupon for “target shooting practice for two” and spend an afternoon at the gun range.”
What guy feels extra loved and romanced by the thought that you’re training up in case you ever need to take him out? Or dreams of your panties falling out of his briefcase during an important meeting? What kind of guy lists “having a sycophantic yes-girl hanging off my arm, embarrassing me in public” as their romantic fantasy? And the idea that a drug-store shopping spree would romance a man’s heart is like telling a man that his wife’s romantic fantasy is “Take her to your mancave and let her pick the beer brand and porno to watch.”
I felt fairly sure the “romance your hubby” activities listed in the article were in fact ideas that appealed to the romantic side of women who buy into hegemonic gender role stereotypes, not of intelligent, cultured, not-interested-in-being-a-poster-boy-for-toxic-masculinity MEN! I read part of the article out loud to my partner, and he just shook his head and rolled his eyes.
In a state of pained bewilderment, I grabbed my phone, opened my notepad, and with Paw Patrol toy-unboxing videos playing in the background I (unsuccessfully) kicked my kids out of my work-space and started scribbling down some ideas for how to truly romance the heart of that special guy.
Since I had, by this time, gathered that such lists are motivated primarily by the realization that men are fungible creatures who all have identical needs, interests and desires, I figured that I could safely assume that my own personal experiences of romance — plus those of a few of my friends — would provide sufficient data for me to accurately advise all couples everywhere about what MEN! really want.
So ladies, here it is: the one, true, reliable guide to how to show your guy that he is loved.
- Make sure you know when he’s going to be getting home from work, and make sure he has a meal waiting for him. Don’t let your autistic son pick the skin off of all his chicken before he even gets in the door. Considerately hide it under a box in the mudroom and let him know that he can heat it up in the toaster oven — men may be shirtless barbarians who only think about sex, sports and beer but they mostly don’t prefer their chicken cold.
- Put aside a little bit of your day to prepare something special just for him. A REAL man loves nothing more than to come home to a bottle of blood-red wine and a hot new Call of Cthulhu scenario that you’ve written just for him. The moment he comes in the door, be ready to get your dice on.
- Brush your teeth sometimes. Especially if you’ve been eating garlic. If he’s been eating onions, canned fish or pickled eggs (and especially if he’s been eating all three together) you can even make it a party. Brush your teeth together. Height of romance.
- Guys really love to talk, and they feel validated and special when you show an interest in what they’re saying. Learn to look like you’re really listening and pick up key words that you can repeat when they’re babbling on about their favourite theories. Fortunately, if you have children under the age of ten you’ll already have lots of experience in the art of looking like you’re paying attention when you’re not.
- Hire a babysitter, drive off to a secluded spot, and lie together discussing the merits of Kantian deontological ethics in the moonlight.
- On a special Wednesday, surprise him with a freshly painted army of Warhammer minis.
- Have your own opinions and vigorously defend them. Nothing turns a guy on more than knowing his partner is a fully autonomous human person.
- When he follows you around, serenading you with passages from Nietzsche, try not to give him too much side-eye.
- Never underestimate the romantic potential of a formal essay on Eros.
- Men are often uncomfortable with overly sentimental expressions of gooshy emotion, so if you’re writing him a love letter remember to preface it with appropriate caveats about the moral insufficiency of the passions as a sole determinant of appropriate action.
- Put your underwear away in your drawer. Don’t leave it lying around in weird places, like draped over your lampshade or in his gym bag. Especially if you are on your period. Men really appreciate that kind of consideration.
- Call each other by cute little terms of endearment. Like “Pig.”
- Learn all the lyrics to his favourite Leonard Cohen songs by heart; a good helpmate should always be able to help her man out if he accidentally sings the verses of “Take This Waltz” in the wrong order.
- It’s really affirming for a guy to know that you’re not the jealous type. Have a frank but casual conversation about what kind of women he finds attractive, and then make jokes about how unlikely it is that you will ever resemble that. Then share with him what kind of women you find attractive.
- On a sunny afternoon, lie in the grass together and fantasize about owning pygmy goats or miniature donkeys.
- Spend the afternoon setting up a special game just for him. Like a reasonably historically accurate table-top recreation of the battle of Cannae. Trash talk about how badly you’re going to decimate his troops.
- When you’re getting ready for a sweet day at his parents house, let him choose out an outfit that he thinks you’d look really great in. Laugh with your grown-up daughters about how he’s chosen the ugliest clothes in your drawers. Laugh more when they tell you all your clothes are ugly. Delight in the fact that neither you nor your sweetheart know anything about fashion. Go to the thrift store and let your children buy you a reasonably convincing normal-human-disguise so his folks won’t think you’re weird.
- Watch obscure European horror movies together and stay up into the wee hours of the night analyzing the cinematography.
- Men like to know that their women are not limited to dull, “girly” pursuits that they find boring. Challenge him to a “name that Heavy Metal band” competition or a wood-splitting contest.
- When a man gets home from work, let’s be real: he’s bored with his day. He doesn’t want to repeat all of its gritty details while you look wide-eyed with feigned interest and offer canned words of encouragement. He wants to take his mind off it and hear about something interesting. Regale him with the latest trivia you’ve picked up about Ancient Egyptian metal-working techniques or Indonesian martial arts.
- Men find it really sexy when you make an effort to keep yourself up — if you don’t do it for yourself, do it for them. It’s disappointing to a guy when you let yourself slip, like if he compliments or teases you in Latin and your vocabulary is so rusty that he has explain in English what he meant.
- Lighten up! Women who are entirely serious under the sheets can put a lot of pressure on a guy. Nothing breaks the ice like a really smutty joke about Stoicism.
- Work quotes from your favourite musicals into everyday conversation. Randomly sing-narrate things that you are doing together and/or with the kids. Let him know that every moment of your life together is epic — by making it into a big musical number.
- Go out to a quaint little brewery and sample craft beers together. Argue about whether IPAs are only for pretentious hipsters, and whether brewing beer with coffee is an abomination. Let him have his own opinions, even though he’s wrong.
- Respect his boundaries. He doesn’t want a hug? Don’t hug him. He gets embarrassed if you send him sexy texts at work? Don’t do that. Talk about what you are and aren’t okay with, and practice enough self-control to make sure that both of you are comfortable with what you’re doing sexually. Don’t damage your relationship by pretending to like things “for his sake.” Consent is hawt, y’all.
- Buy him embarrassing underwear as a Christmas gift and cackle maniacally as he opens it in front of his friends and family. A man always loves to have everyone reminded of their manliness, especially if you can conjure up the seasonally appropriate image of their proud manhood draped in gold lamé.
- It’s really important to a man’s self-esteem for him to feel respected, elevated, adored. Treat him like an expert. If you’re really stuck on a level of one of your favourite video games, let him be your walking-talking walk-through. Remember to tell him “That was great advice! You helped me with that boss-fight like a BOSS!” Men get especially turned on if you praise them enthusiastically for simple tasks. Just like dogs.
- Just kidding. Never treat your partner like a toddler or a dachshund. It’s depressingly common for advice on how to romance a guy to be frankly insulting to men — assuming that they all want servile Barbie doll sex-bots who hang off their every word and worship their abs. Do. Not. Do. That. To. Your. Guy. It’s creepy and infantilizing. Real men, like women, find it way more romantic to be treated like adult human beings with particular interests and personalities, rather than like cringey stereotypes of reductive masculinity.
Image courtesy of Pixabay
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