Tuesday, January 4, 2011



The pleasures of receiving flowers took an interesting turn. Straight into the Romance Department. How much we seem to miss it, and how little we seem to encounter it.

Romance, wherefore art thou?
Sex? We can find that. Friends with benefits? That, too.
But romance? What is it, exactly? Why does it seem so elusive? Are our expectations skewed? Is it unrealistic to anticipate romantic gestures in our harried, crazy stressful lives when we have so many other things to worry about?
Have men discarded the notion that women want it? Or do they no longer believe that romance is required – or worse – that it matters?

Romance without love?
What do you picture when you hear the word romance? Is love always involved? Do you imagine postcard versions of reality, complete with yourself stepping into scenes with candlelight and champagne, or strolling hand-in-hand along the beach at sunset? Do you require Venetian canals? Mountain vistas?

Or is it as simple – and deceptive – as roses delivered at the door?

·Is romance an indication of love or that it’s brewing?
·Do you assume it will lead to marriage? Does it bring us closer, or is it a smoke screen? A false god?
·Can it be enjoyed without assumptions – a simmering sign of affection that needs no Cupid’s arrow in the mix?

Defining Romance
According to Random House Dictionary (on, romantic means:
. . . displaying or expressing love or strong affection; ardent, passionate, fervent; fanciful, impractical, unrealistic (as in ideas); characterized by a preoccupation with love or by the idealizing of love or one’s beloved.

Now there’s conflicting information for you. Love? Yes. And idealism, along with the glossing over of reality which is implied.  Passion? We’ve got that as well. And a notion that romance is inherently impractical.
Or is it sustaining romance that is impractical?

Love without romance
How many of us have loved – or still do – men and women who don’t have a romantic bone in their bodies? They have good hearts, a clear understanding of what it is to partner with another person, and they remain loyal, caring, and even passionate in a relationship. We love them for who we see (and wish to see); we love them for how they are with us (on good days and bad); we love them with or without romance – though we wouldn’t mind an inkling of it now and then.

Can love without romance work? We know it can.
So why do we miss the romance when it’s gone? Why do we long for it, if we never had it?

Sex – and then what?
Ever had a steamy relationship that had little to do with love, and everything to do with adventure and eroticism? What about an affair that involves human connection when you needed it, or simply good sex?

Romance? We might enjoy its spin around the dance floor, but we know we can blossom even without it.

·If it’s sex without love, are we less likely to crave the romantic?
·If passion can stand alone, does it require other gestures?
·If we have great sex with a little romance thrown in, do we mistake it for love?
·Does it add to our confusion between sex and lovemaking?

Must marriage mean the death of romance?
For more than 10 years, I got up early, made my coffee, began work, and dealt with children. If my husband was in town, I brewed his coffee just before the hour he preferred to rise. I added milk the way he liked it, set the cup by his side of the bed, then woke him gently.

Every morning he was there.
I recall my older son making me a cup of coffee in the morning a few times. He was eight or nine I think. But not my husband. Never my husband.
Is time the enemy of romance? Or is it routine? Or boredom? Or fatigue? Is marriage doomed to shed its romantic nooks and crannies -  if they ever existed – as partnership becomes about the marital unit, as love changes shape, as priorities shift?

What do you consider romantic?
When love is long term, perhaps we settle into rhythms that we cease to question.

If you’re fortunate, flowers or love notes give way to extra sleep on the weekend because the baby’s been keeping you up. To taking the kids out so you can have an hour of quiet. To surprising you with a walk together through your favorite neighborhood. To bringing home pizza so there’s no need to cook. And a little more energy for making love.

Like any woman, I may be dazzled by flowers arriving unexpectedly, but I don’t need them. What I do need are signs that I am appreciated. Treasured. The occasional gesture.

Is that idealistic and unrealistic?

Real life, real romance
It’s easy to be romantically inclined when you’re on vacation, removed from the stresses of daily duties.

But in our real lives, our everyday mess and chaos, is it unrealistic to think that romance is around the next corner? Or in some unanticipated act from your spouse of twenty years?

I’ve known passion without romance (it’s certainly fulfilling), romance without passion (also viable), and something like marriage that lacked in both departments, foreshadowing a lifestyle missing its music. Still, other elements brought about its inevitable end.

Friendship? Respect? Values?
When it comes to love, three little words are never enough. They help, but they’re words. Actions speak louder than words, don’t they?

When it comes to love, I believe that friendship, respect, and common values provide the support system to sustain the partnership. But without passion or romance, even that may not be enough.

Romance may take a variety of forms; its presence is a reflection of feeling and appreciation. Its absence, a reflection of elements that bear examining.

If romance matters to you, however it is demonstrated, better to acknowledge it sooner rather than later. And if it’s on the wane, might we rekindle the spark by leading with our example?

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