“Honey, I really appreciate that you installed that sprayer by the toilet for cleaning out the baby’s diapers. I use it every day and am so thankful for it.”
We were talking about romance, see.
We were discussing how the way it’s framed in the media doesn’t suit our ways, not at all really. Not that we didn’t try out that mold; he brought home flowers, wrote poems, we ate cheese and grapes by candlelight, and there were notes in his lunchbox. But it always felt like we were painting someone else’s story on top of ours, a foreign element to our day-to-day loving. What if, instead, we knew ways to express love and care and desire for one another all on our own?
Our children’s clothing lives in the laundry room when not on their little selves in cubby-type shelves that my husband built. With four children, and one on the way, I can’t tell you how many back aches I’ve been saved by not hauling laundry up and down the stairs. Dirty laundry is dumped right there, clean clothes put on right there, and I exhale with a contented smile that there is order in that area of my life. No laundry languishes in the purgatory of baskets awaiting folding; it all goes right from the dryer to the shelves. It’s glorious.
And my husband built it. For me. For my sanity and my back and it lasts so much longer than overpriced roses.
Every day as I do laundry my heart swells in gratitude toward him for making it so efficient and manageable for me. He has used his giftings to make my life sweeter, less harried and more whole. I’ve never seen a box of chocolates have such an enduring impact.
“Yeah, I try to write poems, but I just think they sound stupid,” he said while we talked about romance.
“Well, hon, you’re not a poet. It would be like someone who doesn’t know how to bake trying to express love for their spouse by baking them cupcakes, and all they can offer is burnt ones that don’t taste good. Sure, the thought behind it is touching, but it isn’t what their strength is.”
Which is why I don’t think we should put too much stock in what the media and the books say romance is like. It may be just exactly what some couples love, and I’m happy for them (and so are Hallmark and Godiva and the flower shops). But there’s no sense in squeezing ourselves into a mold that doesn’t fit. A stuffed bear with a velvet heart pressed between its fluffy paws has no appeal for me. But chocolate-covered strawberries…now those are another matter (I’m not completely nonconformist).
Romance can be as practical as not leaving underwear on the bathroom floor, as having dinner ready after a long day of work, as being the one to get up with the baby and make the coffee. It is a daily dying to self and sacrificial loving of another. It makes for an undercurrent in our lives of care, support, and love, which, in turn make marital intimacy all the more fulfilling and joyful. It’s the exclamation point on the end of all that day-to-day love-choosing.
“I just don’t understand romance. I’m just not a romantic person”, he said in frustration. No, you’re right, dear, according to the books and the magazines and the movies, you’re not. But you love your own wife well; she feels treasured and protected and cared for and delighted in. All this builds trust and intimacy and peace and, yes, sexual desire. Everything and more that the world says can be achieved through the right words, the right flowers, and the right paper heart full of chocolates.