Bringing Back Romance

It happens in relationships all the time. Mother’s good china is replaced by paper plates. The silverware is banished to the attic in lieu of Target ware that fares better in the dishwasher. Frivolous undergarments and nightclothes are replaced with Sear’s sales ware. Dinner is served in front of Walker, Texas Ranger. These and many other such things are not the price of growing older: they are symptoms of the death of romance in our relationships and in our culture.

Romance is best defined as an ardent emotional attachment or involvement between people; or as a fascination or enthusiasm for something such as one’s romance with the sea. It also is defined as a mysterious and adventurous or beautiful thing.

Romance, in other words, is not just about sex. It can be about sex but it is really more about sex appeal, and even more than that it is about passion and enthusiasm in our interactions with others. In other words, it is about feeling strong feelings and sharing them because it feels good to share them.

Too many relationships quickly degrade to boring spaces that lack romance altogether. For some that happens because they never were very passionate to begin with. For others it happens over time as they focus on every other compelling responsibility in life except the time needed to be able to share some romance with those who are important to them. For others, sex is the only way that they have learned to communicate strong feelings and typically they do that in a way that resembles a ‘slam dunk’ on a basketball court.

Some people are so in love with the idea of being in love that they overlook the most glaring failings in prospective friends and partners, and then they wonder later what happened when things turn sour. They saw what they wanted to see, not what there was to see, which can have devastating consequences down the road. If you want a romantic partner or friend then you need to be a romantic yourself. And you need to love being a romantic. You also need to have some growing up experiences with folks who romantically and playfully danced through life and took you along for the ride.

You can only pass on what you know

How many couples are like two ships passing in the night? They never make eye contact, or laugh together, and all daily activities are mechanical in nature – dinner, for them, is for eating, period. They have no time for morning walks, only for high impact exercising. The fireplace is for heat only. Dancing is for someone else to do. They don’t like candles at dinner because they can’t see what they are eating. And they certainly would never get up in the middle of night to make chocolate chip cookies just because the cookie jar was (gasp) empty.

These people exaggerate the dreary things in life. Everything for them is a chore. Even dining with friends is a chore. Life is a chore. Nothing is funny to them and no way in the world would they ever let themselves cry at a heart-wrenching movie. Nor would it occur to them to give a gift to someone for no good reason, or to wear bright red suspenders to cheer up a friend.

It’s a pity, because we need liberal sprinklings of romance in our life to take the edge off things. We need to constantly rekindle the child in us so that we can let the sunshine in.

Romance is for everyone!

Parents who roar like a proud lion when their child does something well is a treasure, indeed. They also probably dance with their kids while they are doing dishes or making the beds. Romantics like to put a little pizzazz into everything – why, they can even make grocery shopping exciting! They pack the most interesting picnics and find the most delicious spots. They drive a car that makes them feel young. They write poems on the backs of bus tickets and then slip them into our pockets. They loudly proclaim their love for us at least every ten minutes.

The stuff of memories

The fact is, we mostly remember the good things, the fun things, the crazy things, those hilarious moments that made us cry and laugh at the same time. These kinds of things tickle the insides and they make us feel so good and so very alive. A friend used to take me fishing every Wednesday afternoon in July, and she would pack us a lunch with cold wieners and hot cokes and sandwiches with the crusts cut off – things that no one in any self-respecting kitchen did. We also had dessert first and we ate with big red and white checkered handkerchiefs around our necks that we could drag our dirty hands across. Now THAT was living! We’d sit and fish and laugh and while the time away talking about what ifs and who done-its and other such lovely things. That same friend taught me to cartwheel across the front lawn when the dinner bell rang. She also read from Edgar Allen Poe by flashlight when it was thundering and lightening outside and the bigger, the storm the scarier her voice. Fun!

I had a band teacher once who wore dazzling blue tennis shoes under her Dominican habit. Imagine that! My 95-year old friend, Madelyn, used to march around her apartment with one of a dozen garish straw hats on her head as she made toasts to everyone while watering the plants.

Do you remember that first kiss? That first awkward hello to a member of the opposite sex? That was the stuff of romance. Remember your mother cooing over the dandelion that you brought her when you five? I thought I had died and gone to heaven myself.

Don’t let go of those moments. Like pearls, we string those precious moments together and suddenly we have a life. A very good life!

A life filled with romance.

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