In this day and age, romance is virtually dead.
Fortunately, even though our culture might be clueless about the finer aspects of love and relationships, we can choose not to be.
One of my all-time favorite books on this topic is How to Make Your Wife Your Mistress by Lois Bird. Published in 1972, it’s long out of print (though you can buy used copies of it on Amazon).
I’m sure it wasn’t a giant bestseller — in fact, I’m impressed that the book was published at all. It’s a virtual axiom among editors that men don’t buy self-help books, particularly ones that purport to teach them how to be more sensitive and intelligent lovers.
Mrs. Bird’s basic thesis is that there are too many wives and not enough mistresses, and that these two aren’t mutually exclusive.
Here are some of my favorite quotations from the book. I’m especially interested to hear women’s opinions about Mrs. Bird’s statements:
“I am a woman, and that no doubt means a lot of things. It means I’m similar to all other women in many respects and probably different in many, but most important, it means I am not a man. I don’t think like a man, feel like a man, or, in many respects, act like a man.”
“Every woman would prefer to build her fantasies on memories of what she has shared with her man. . . . We women collect memories like a miser saving coins. The more the better. Give your woman the stuff on which dreams are built, and you’ll keep her far better entertained than a TV rerun.”
“We know we can win the boy-girl game only when you win too. Nothing could be dumber than a battle of the sexes.”
“We enjoy being treated like a mistress. . . . Playing female to a man’s maleness is something every healthy woman enjoys. . . . We don’t feel ‘put down’ when you come on with some good old-fashioned chivalry. It tells us that you recognize what we want you to recognize: that we are not ‘one of the boys’; we are women. We like it, and we’re glad you like it. We want to keep those sex differences.”
“Every woman knows — or ought to know — that sexiness is not incompatible with brains and capability. . . . It takes more than average brains to be truly sexy.”
“So long as you let her know you are interested in what she has to say, that’s all that’s important. . . . Just knowing you value what she may think is enough to turn her on.”
“Every woman is addicted to two things, and one of them is romance.”
“Romance is something which is not taught to boys as it is to girls.”
“Dating is not just ‘going out somewhere’ . . . . Much as I hate to give men a failing grade in anything, I’m afraid when it comes to dating, the average husband flunks out all the way. . . . We want our men to plan the dates, to ask us out for the evening, and to take us.”
“Imagination is one of the biggest elements in creating romance.”
“Romance is, in a way, the unnecessary gesture. . . . The romantic action is ‘impractical.’”
“Being more than a little bit crazy, it’s more than a little bit romantic.”
“Touching should communicate that you love her, not just that you want her.”
“She’s waited for you; the day has been a long one. She’s been eager for the sound of your voice, the touch of your hands.”
“Keep the changes coming. Jot that down as the key to romance. At least one of the keys. I guess you could call it the art of unpredictability. . . . Without the unexpected, the loving may still be there, but the romance quickly fades.”
“Perhaps the biggest secret to keeping a mistress where you want her is memory building. No woman who has a thick mental scrapbook of memories of great nights and beautiful mornings is going to start daydreaming of another man. . . . A skilled lover is an expert in building memories. He doesn’t just hope things will turn out all right; he schemes.”