Romance, toothpaste and popcorn…
It has been my experience that the very idea of romance is not only subjective, but so incredibly misunderstood. Growing up as a white, middle-class girl in America, I was taught to believe that romance involved specific things like soft music, candles, wine glasses, fresh-cut flowers, jewelry, fancy clothes and long love-filled gazes. Even sex, when painted with a romantic sense of imagery, would involve candles, wine glasses, soft music, rose petals, and tender-lasting moments… Anyone who has ever turned on a tv show, watched a movie or any amount of commercials would know that this is what we are taught romance is.
Those things can be pretty romantic… But those things, in and of themselves, are simply unrealistic ideas. They may be better suited as goals, ideas, inspirations- but they are not the things which romance lives in.
My husband has this (terrible) habit of telling me that he is not romantic. My husband is also pretty incorrect about a few things, and this would be one of them. I have never known anyone who IS romantic. Is romantic something one can actually be? I know that I am not romantic, by nature. The conclusion which I have come to, in my own personal journey, is that romantic simply means stepping outside of myself, with my spouse in mind. It really is that simple. Twenty minutes of the “romantic” evening described above, and both Chw and I would be bored out of our minds. It just isn’t us, so it wouldn’t really fill a need we may have for romance. Romance is not a department store greeting card with someone else’s sentiments. It is not wilting flowers, cheap candy boxed in the shape of a heart… These are things we are told are romantic because someone else is wanting to profit from the money spent on such thoughtless things. Romance requires thought. Romance breathes on the air of thoughtfulness.
When Chw walks through the door with flowers, I swoon. For me, this is romantic. Not because flowers were involved, or money was spent, but because he was thinking of me and knows that I LOVE flowers! My BFF hates flowers, so if her husband did this it would probably be the most UNROMANTIC thing he could do…
Most weeknights Chw and I do not make it to bed at the same time. I’m a nightowl, often finding my most productive bursts in the late evening hours. He leaves for work well before the sun comes up, most days. It’s kind of how it has always been so it is pretty normal for us. Whichever of us is getting ready for bed first will put toothpaste on the other’s toothbrush. It is small, but it is so thoughtful. This is a tiny effort that, over time, has grown to mean so much. It may not be much of a romantic gesture to anyone outside of our marriage, but for us it simply speaks love.
When I’ve made it into bed much later than expected, and make it a point to wake up with Chw, in the morning, to make sure he gets a healthy breakfast, coffee, or at least a groggy-goodbye kiss- that is romance. It is casting aside my selfish want for a cozy bed to put thought into what may help his day start off better.(allow me to point out that this is not something I do everyday. I also may very well lie to myself and say that it is good it isn’t every day, that keeps it special.)
Under our roof, romance can look like washed dishes, folded towels, notes left in the shower, (we do that, all the time, btw. This is possibly one of our favorite things) a scraped windshield, a shoveled walk way, fresh-baked cookies, a neck rub, Chipotle carry out, a spontaneous trip to the movies, a walk hand-in-hand, a funny exchange over text, a vigorous game of Mario, a hand of cards, a lazy brunch we made together…
Real romance does not have to cost anything other than a little thought backed up by sincere effort. In today’s culture of flash mobs, promposals and youtube EVERYTHING, the true idea of romance seems even more unclear. The pressures we put on ourselves to be romantic, (and I say that specifically for my husband) aren’t real… They are not truth based… They are comparisons we have of our limitations vs. the things we see. Hundreds of likes, oodles of attention by strangers and bigger price tags DO NOT make it more romantic. (or romantic at all) I cannot tell you how many conversations I have had, with other women, where they questioned their husbands love for them because he did not do the things that characters in books, tv and movies do. This is so sad, and so unfair to everyone.
Keeping the romance alive for us looks like:
- making the time to connect regularly.
- stepping outside of ourselves to do something we KNOW the other person will like/need. (NOT to be appreciated. NOT to pat ourselves on the back, but simply because we love them. )
- engaging. Eye contact, verbal contact, skin contact. Sometimes, a hug is just the very thing a day needs.
- prioritizing fun and special. Sure, the toothpaste at night is wonderful, but the “outside of our routine”, special gestures are necessary too.
- having regular time scheduled, to spend with each other. No matter what stage of life we find ourselves in, “date nights” HAVE to happen… Even if the bank account is low and this means it is time at home, alone.
We are big dinner & a movie people. We’ve gone through phases where we might panic a little and wonder if something is wrong with us. Doesn’t society say that’s a rutt? The thing is, we enjoy other things too, but we REALLY LOVE going to dinner and a movie. (or lunch and a movie. Or brunch and a movie. Or a movie and dessert… you get the idea.) We talk together about movies coming out that He wants to see and I don’t, that I want to see and he doesn’t, and that we really both want to see. (I’m not going to lie, the priority of this topic on a regular basis is pretty much level with budgeting topics. We’re cool and pretty juvenile like that. Whatever, we’ll own it.) A movie we are both looking forward to seeing is Forever Your Girl. It kind of has that feel good Hallmark vibe, but far better quality. (Here’s the trailer.)
Forever My Girl tells the story of music super-star Liam Page (Alex Roe) who left his bride, Josie (Jessica Rothe), at the altar choosing fame and fortune instead. However, Liam never got over Josie, his one true love, nor did he ever forget his Southern roots in the small community where he was born and raised. When he unexpectedly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his high school best friend, Liam is suddenly faced with the consequences of all that he left behind. Forever My Girl is an uplifting romantic film about second chances. It releases in theaters on January 19.
So, now you see that we can be pretty boring. No need for huge gestures here, and that’s ok for us. What about you? What do you feel romance is? What is the most romantic thing you’ve done/received?