Romance in real life often looks quite different than it does in the movies and in the romance novels that we love so dearly.
Hmmpf. That’s an understatement.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a jaded cynic who is reeling from an over-idealized expectation of love and romance. On the contrary, I’m just a 40-something-year-old woman who has been married (twice) and who has learned that there are some great misconceptions about the actual role of romance in real-life relationships.
Because I have recently binge-watched the entire first season of the new period drama Bridgerton and am now reading the book series, I feel very compelled to finish this article in the voice of Lady Whistledown. She is the mysterious gossip columnist who mixes clever wit with scandalous gossip in an anonymous tabloid depicting the who’s who and what’s what of London’s coming-out season. After all, if anyone knows anything about romance, it would be Lady Whistledown.
Myth #1: Romance Dies After the Wedding
My Dear Reader, we have all heard the complaints. A lord spends months or even years wooing a lady with flowers and chocolates, taking her dancing under the stars, wearing his best cravat and most charming smile, then BAM! He slips a ring upon her finger, adds a title with lands to her name, and she is forced to bid adieu to candlelight dinners and waltzing about in moonlit gardens for the rest of her life.
The truth is that marriage (and subsequently, children) often change the dynamic of a relationship but that does not mean that a woman must kiss romance goodbye once she dons a wedding veil. Instead, This Author believes that romance develops significantly for the better once vows are exchanged.
For example, a woman is often under great pressure to wear the highest of high heels, forgoing the feeling in her little toes, to elongate the look of her legs during the courting period just as men are often under great pressure to wear, uh, well, a clean t-shirt, at least. However, after their nuptials, a woman can fold laundry in a pair of yoga pants while her husband pays the bills in his gym shorts, and neither one is uncomfortable in any way.
What does that have to do with romance? Well, when the lord pays the bills at the kitchen table so he can be near his lady who is folding laundry on the sofa, he is communicating to her that he desires to be near her and that her presence is ever-so-important to him. When he smacks her arse as she passes by him carrying that basket of laundry, he is conveying to her that her yoga pants look both comfortable to her and pleasing to his eye, and therefore he is a happy fellow indeed to be married to such a beautiful domestic goddess.
This is not to say that ladies must be subjugated to a life of laundry while lords are off tending to the business of the manor. This Author is far more forward-thinking than that! Rather, This Author has found it intensely difficult to construct a more suitable and timely example while channeling This Author’s inner Lady Whistledown. But, I digress…
Myth #2: Flowers are Important Gifts
This Author learned long before marriage that men just do not understand nor appreciate our affinity for flora and fauna. Nor did This Author understand the consternation and pressure many men feel to comply with society’s expectation upon them to deliver a bouquet of blossoms.
The following is a real telephone conversation that occurred between This Author and her Prince Charming near the beginning of their courtship…
This Author: The most embarrassing thing happened to me at work today! [This Author worked at a church in the office.] A courier delivered a vase of white roses to the main office today, and Lady Jennifer directed the courier to my office. Upon acceptance of the flowers, I gushed and cooed and told the courier that I was in love with the most handsome of princes and that I was the most spoiled lady in all the land. Then I read the card attached to the flowers and realized that the roses were not intended for me but instead for a funeral the church was to be hosting later that afternoon. Is that not most embarrassing?! What a laugh we all had!
Prince Charming: [dryly] If you want me to send you flowers, just say so. You don’t have to make up ridiculous stories.
This Author: Oh no, my love! That is not at all what I was suggesting. My story is true! When I saw the roses I just assumed…
Prince Charming: [Annoyed] Whatever. Just buy yourself some flowers if you want flowers so badly.
Dear Reader, may This Author assure you that while this true story is quite embarrassing, it also serves as a valid reminder to us as the fairer (and far more romantic) sex that the rakish rogues we have set our hearts upon truly are… clueless.
Lest the image of my Prince Charming remains tarnished in your mind’s eye, I must insist on noting a few of the many gifts he has given me which did not seem romantic at first but now have captured my heart because they truly came from a place of great thoughtfulness on his part:
- A McDonald’s fountain Coke every morning upon his return from delivering our children to school because This Author does not drink coffee nor did This Author rise early enough to deliver the children to school herself
- A framed portrait of This Author’s late father because she misses him
- An old-school Nintendo because This Author never had one as a child
- A sewing machine because This Author mentioned the desire to learn to sew
Dear Reader, while these gifts may not seem romantic in the most conventional sense of the word, This Author has grown to favor them more than flowers. They represent Prince Charming’s true understanding of who This Author is and what This Author loves. Any lord can buy a lady a bouquet, but very few will know she has always wanted a Nintendo.
Myth #3: Men are Not Sentimental
This, Dear Reader, is perhaps the greatest myth of all. While many members of the opposite sex struggle in finding ways to communicate their love, the sentimentality they hold dear to their hearts is often evidenced in peculiar ways.
For example, on This Author’s wedding night, upon completion of the marital act, This Author snuggled under Prince Charming’s arm and rested her head upon his chest. Prince Charming was unprepared for this response and found himself very awkwardly holding This Author in his arms as he asked, “Do we have to do this every night?”. This Author was quite taken aback by his insensitivity and roguish inquiry. Yet now, Prince Charming often comments that when This Author travels to far off lands, what he misses most is This Author’s head upon his chest as he falls asleep. Awwwwww. This Author gushes.
As another illustration of male sentimentality, This Author can confirm that Prince Charming does not remember the date which they met, the date of their first rendezvous, or the date in which he proposed marriage. However, he wishes This Author a “Happy Anniversary” on the 29th of every month stating that when one marries later in life, one must celebrate every month as the young celebrate every year.
Lords claim that they will never understand ladies. But the truth remains that it is equally difficult for ladies to understand lords, as well. Perhaps these great mysteries are what keep the romance alive for us all.
Dear Reader, your Prince Charming may not seem to be the most romantic or chivalrous of men, but This Author urges you to take a closer look.
Does he pour you a cup of coffee in the morning? Does he unload the groceries for you? Does he place himself between you and the traffic lane in a parking lot? Does he text you to make sure you arrived at your destination? Does he hold you when you cry? Does he make dinner when he gets home from work? Perhaps his love, kindness, thoughtfulness, protectiveness, compassion, understanding, and provision are more romantic than you once thought.