I’m a man, so when Maude suggested we write about romance, I didn’t know how to approach it. First, I looked it up in my trusty 1949 school dictionary, the one with the flyleaf saying I’m in class
1E 2A S3A S4A S5A S6A. It told me that Romance is a general name for the vernaculars that developed out of popular Latin. No, that can’t be what Maude had in mind; I need to be writing about hearts and flowers.
OK, I’m playing with gender stereotypes here. For the longest time, my view of relationships had at its core (even though I wasn’t conscious of it) black and white Hollywood drama of impeccable makeup, heaving bosoms, an offstage orchestra and the promise of eternal bliss. After the intoxication of a new love wore off, I was instead left with a bad hangover of failed expectations.
Now, with Maude, I understand how to avoid that hangover. Two things stand out. Firstly, look on the positive side. Our world becomes what we look for, and by seeing the good things in life, our life becomes good. If instead we stare at flaws in our partner, we fuel our dissatisfaction. Secondly, Maude accepts me for who I am, and that includes my personal expressions of romance. I had a girlfriend who needed to hear words of love so badly that none of the other acts of commitment, significant though they were, could ever make up for it.
I think I have been offered this total acceptance before, yet could not see it because I sought a perfect partner and saw only flaws. Now, I wear Maude’s total acceptance as a cloak against the winds of the world; I can see it and feel it and am daily grateful for its warmth, and I rejoice in being able to express my thanks for it. That is the romance that I offer.
Love, luv, n. fondness; an affection of the mind caused by that which delights.
Phil and I were talking about romance this morning and he said, “I just say I love you about once a week, so I guess I’m not very romantic.” This from one of the most romantic men you could ever meet!
Everyone imagines different things when they think of what is romantic. There are all the concepts sold to us by mass media that represent romance. There are our childhood memories and learned ideas which shape how we define it. Men and women often interpret the definition differently. All this is true.
And it is also true that we all feel good when we know we are seen, heard and appreciated. And this is where personal romance comes in. Do you know your partner’s intimate feelings because you pay attention to them? Do you know those small little things, those things that are special and cause happiness and pleasure? Are you aware of your partner as a separate unique individual to be acknowledged and appreciated as such?
Yes, romance starts with awareness of your partner; being present and really seeing them for who they are. Romance does not have to be flowers and cards and nights out, as lovely as these things can be. Romance often has the element of surprise in it. It feels good to all of us when we encounter some small gesture our partner has made that shows they were listening to what we said, or that they noticed something we haven’t even spoken about. It can be an act of kindness or support that makes all the difference in a dark moment. It can be a simple touch that reassures that a special connection is there.
It isn’t so much what occurs as it is what that represents: a form of communication from your partner that they see you, hear you and appreciate you.
Keeping this kind of romance in your relationship is vital. Partners who renew their connection in little ongoing ways right in the middle of life’s hustle and bustle, are the ones who sustain their connection. A relationship has to stay alive and in the present experiences of both partners to flourish.
So be creative in your loving and honor yourself and your partner by actually putting your time and attention into your togetherness.