So I have been challenged to write a very specific article. I am supposed to separate fictional romance from legitimate romance. Ok. I am on it. Brace yourself. This is probably not what you are expecting.


As men, we rarely read romance novels or voluntarily watch the romantic chick flicks. That kind of stuff doesn't really appeal to us. Unless you can squeeze in some explosions or insane car chases, we won't even consider them. However, if you mix in enough sex, most of us will pay attention. If you use the film or book to convince us that romance leads to sex, we stay tuned longer. I think that's where the paths separate.


Hollywood has done an amazing job of teaching us about love and sex. The two seem to be inseparable. Whether you are forty somethings on the rebound from failed marriages or teens playing out the Romeo and Juliet tragedy. Either scenario always ends with sex. They always seem to skip the important stuff. The stuff that makes sex more than just an animal instinct. Dogs do it. Cats do it. I even caught a pair of toads doing it in my laundry room once. Sex is not romance.


At this point, we need to pause for station identification. Since this is written as a guest post, most of you guys don't know me, yet.  This is Erik. The guy who has had to learn everything the hard way. The guy who almost wrecked a twenty year marriage. The guy who had the perfect wife, and almost lost her, by losing his focus and becoming angry and abusive. All because I didn't understand marriage or what it meant to make my life count. Hang with me, I promise this is going to be good.


Here's the point. Sex is a vital part of a healthy marriage. But not the Hollywood or animal planet versions. Their concepts works great for selling tickets and advertising, not for sustaining a solid marriage. If you have an audience, maybe theirs works for you. If not, let's find a better way.


The fictional romance scenario seems to teach that romance leads to passion, and passion leads to sex. Two people meet, there's a connection. Maybe some trauma or turmoil that forces them together. They get connected. Passion develops. Opportunity arises. Then there a lot of messy thrusting and grinding. Then it's over. Whew! That's their life. Wow. Like I said, even dogs do that.


The romance novels never have Legos in the carpet. The electric bill is never late. The cars don't break down before payday. Their houses don't get foreclosed. They never fart in bed. Nobody has morning breath. Their cats never crap on the floor. They live a perfect life. All their problems have happy endings. The sail off onto the sunset every perfect day. Who lives like that?


My idea of romance is one of defiance. Mostly defiance of my own nature.


As a man, I fully understand carnal nature and selfish desires. Most of us, given the opportunity, would have sex three times a day with every available woman. Our mind and body craves sex. We have vivid imaginations of sex in all kinds of situations. The promise or even suggestion of sex is a powerful motivator for us. Most men go into marriage thinking they just found an “all you can eat” buffet of sex. They think it's going to happen every day for the rest of their life.


And once reality sets in, we get disappointed. Once we understand that our wife doesn't exist for the sole purpose of satisfying our every whim, we lose interest. Maybe not completely, but some. Women get sorely disappointed, too. They were baited in by a man who went out of his way to prove himself. He made her the center of his world, just long enough to get that ring on her. The shining armor tarnishes really quick.


I want men to understand romance. Women need romance. Not the movie type, the real stuff. Not just flowers and candy and the occasional date. The lifestyle adjustment that completely changes the way you think.


During the dating days, you had a basic understanding of true romance. Even if you didn't know it. If you didn't, she probably wouldn't have married you. Without some simple form of romance, you would have lost her attention. The romance I am talking about is the real stuff. The stuff where you rearrange your world and place her in the center.


You have to put her in her place. She isn't an accessory to your life, she is your life. Everything good about your life should involve her. True romance is in making the effort to reaffirm her value in every decisions you make. Legitimate romance involves defying our own selfishness and making her the most important person in the world.


Real romance is undeniable. She knows. She understands when you are being nice just to get sex. Sometimes she will play along. Maybe she actually wants sex. Maybe she is just being nice and trying to avoid hurting your feelings. Maybe she thinks she is doing the right thing. Maybe she thinks that this really is how it works. Maybe she has just given up hope for it being any better. That's a bad place to be.


Then there's the guy who won't have sex. He lives his life, demanding everything happen on his terms. He wants is when he wants it and exactly how he wants it. He wants her to be just like the women in his imagination. Or the ones on tv. Whatever. He is purely selfish. That guy doesn't have a clue about how good this can be.


My marriage was pretty good, right up until it wasn't. From my perspective, things were fine. The reason it looked so good was because she was trying to hard. She tolerated my attitude. She endured my abusive actions. She did everything in her power to hold our home together. Until she finally broke, I thought things were fine. Once she quit giving, it all fell on me. If the marriage was to be saved, I had to do it. Which is where it was supposed to be from the beginning. I started off as her hero, I had to do it again.


After I reassumed my place, as the man who loved her, things gradually changed. Three years later, we were reconnected. At the four year mark, she told me she loved me and was never going to leave again. We were stronger than ever, but only after I had proven to her that she was what mattered most to me.


That's when I understood romance. It's not selfish. It's about her. It's all about, making it, all about her. It's about proving yourself, constantly. About taking every opportunity to be the man she needs. We don't go to movies I like, but she doesn't. We don't eat at restaurants I like, but she hates. We don't have to compromise. She never gets dragged along through something she doesn't want to do. I don't ask her to endure things. I find things she enjoys and we do that. I have found myself in her. In being her hero again.


Flowers and candy are nice. Don't stop doing that. But don't do one thing, expecting to get another. That's not romance. That's just selfishness. Prove your self to her. Be the man. Learn to love. Be the romantic.




M. Erik Matlock lives in Palm Coast, Florida with his unbelievably amazing wife, Geri and two of their four awesome kids. Erik and Geri were married in 1989 and became parents in 1990. Erik is a self professed recovering knucklehead with a knack for learning things the hard way. After a twenty year spiral into becoming a dark, angry and abusive husband; he was confronted with the impending loss of his family and divorce papers. Four years later, they are best friends again and very much in love. Erik openly shares his mistakes and failures in hopes of saving other families from the same pain they experienced. Follow Erik at erikmatlock.com. Pinterest.com/erikmatlock. twitter as @erik_matlock




3 thoughts on “Guest Blogger M. Erik Matlock – What men need to know about true romance”

  1. Pingback: What men need to know about true romance | Becoming a Better Man

  2. There seriously needs to be more MEN sharing your overall message, and yet every time I lose hope; there is something I find which says, “Hang on just a bit longer, even men who were at one time jerks to their wives can become different.” And yet for this to happen, it is the MEN who have to make themselves accountable to do it.

    Sadly, when one researches statistics one can easily find that pornography is a major problem with even men who claim to be Christian, and things devolve from there. That is the ultimate in romanceless sex, and looking at the statistics of men involved, and the divorce rates, I think there is a VERY strong correlation between the 2.

    And even so the women in those equations are often told that their husbands wouldn’t be out looking if they would have just fulfilled the man’s ‘needs’ in bed, sometimes without even consideration that said man went looking in this area well before marrying his wife, and thus had a whole list of false expectations to begin with, expectations that no real flesh and blood woman could possibly live up to. Thus the counselor in saying things like this is putting the burden on the wife that she is to submit to being used like a prostitute/porn participant in her own home and her own bed, and that if she does not, it is *her* fault if he leaves.

    Where, oh where, are the rest of the MEN calling MEN to godly lifestyles with their wives?

    There are PLENTY of men AND WOMEN calling on wives to submit, to essentially put up and shut up, yet most lack the simple truth that if a husband is truly seeking godliness in ALL areas of his life (including romance and sex) it becomes a much easier thing for his wife to submit.

    1. Very interesting response! I am glad you enjoyed the piece.

      I have to say, I don’t disagree. However I don’t think that we need to blame for the lack of romance in our lives either. Sex and romance do go hand in hand, but not all of us feel like we are submitting to anything.

      My husband and I are Jewish and we live by the Jewish law that if She’s not happy in Bed.. he’s not happy.. ever.. not even for a minute. 🙂 Actually, while we do joke about it.. it is a Jewish Law that a man can not force his wife to have sex with him. However, he must be obliged to have it whenever she seeks it. And if she isn’t happy with his performance in bed, she has a right to a divorce but he does not. It’s an odd thing.

      But back to the topic. Romance starts in the head not in the bed. If a couple can’t talk, be comfortable, and enjoy each other’s company with their clothes on… then they shouldn’t be taking them off. I really enjoyed the article because it calls on a man to be a good, honest, loving, and thoughtful partner in the relationship before thinking he might get lucky.

      Glad you came!


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