Think back to the days of your childhood. How did you imagine marriage? Really. Try to visualize what your childhood mind thought marriage would be. Can you do it? I can’t. Instead, my childhood mind pictured the courtship. It pictured the romance. It pictured the wedding. But it never truly pictured the marriage. Rather, in my innocence, I assumed marriage was the same as the courtship, the romance, the wedding. I was wrong. We all were. But on the eve of my 14th wedding anniversary, I can honestly say I am glad I was wrong. What I have encountered is deeper, richer, and more rewarding than I could have ever dreamed.
Dictionary.com defines romantic, as in “Prince Charming is romantic,” the following way:
- of, pertaining to, or of the nature of romance; characteristic or suggestive of the world of romance: a romantic adventure.
- fanciful; impractical; unrealistic: romantic ideas.
- imbued with or dominated by idealism, a desire for adventure, chivalry, etc.
- characterized by a preoccupation with love or by the idealizing of love or one’s beloved.
- displaying or expressing love or strong affection.
Bleak picture isn’t it? The word that jumps from the page to me is unrealistic. Quite honestly, if I was basing my definition of romantic on fairy tales, novels, or movies, I would have to agree. Completely unrealistic. Why? Because most women believe true romance is the surprise of a dozen red roses just because. Sweeping romantic getaways to B&Bs. Quiet candlelight dinners, jazz playing softly in the background. Tiny wrapped boxes filled with jewels on holidays. Poetry read from balconies. Think of your favorite chick-flick, and there you have our unrealistic image of romance.
I would like to pose a theory that this is not romance. Yes. I said it. Romance is not roses, candlelit dinners, and diamonds. Now, before you stop reading, I didn’t say I don’t LIKE roses, candlelit dinners, and diamonds. I mean…I am a woman after all. I just don’t believe this is truly at the heart of romance. Let me explain.
When Prince Charming and I were still dating I received the most amazing bouquet of soft, baby-pink roses. In the years since, there has not been another to top that special delivery to the sorority house in front of 100 sisters. But I fell in love with Prince Charming, not the bouquet of roses. My husband does not fit the movie definition of romantic, but he changes poopy diapers. He doesn’t show up after a day of work with flowers and Godiva chocolates, but he does show up with rented movies and take-out. He may not write poetry akin to Shakespeare, but really, who does? He doesn’t whisk me away for romantic getaways, but he does send me to a warm bath with a good book.
You see, what I have realized after being married for 14 years is that romance is defined by all of the ways my husband demonstrates his love for me. Some days I have to look for them. But when I start, I don’t have to look hard. It’s the cup of coffee each morning at 5:00am. It’s the lunch he puts together for me everyday. It’s the Excedrin Migraine he hands to me when the pain is so bad I can’t think straight. It’s all the days he takes the kids to the park so I can write. It’s the way he loves our children. It’s the stolen glances over take-out, kids screaming, milk spilling. It’s the partnership we have created. It’s the promise we have made. These are the ways Prince Charming romances me. And honestly, when I begin to look at it from this angle, who needs roses? Your prince’s romance will be different from mine. But it’s there…We have to choose to look for it.
God describes love in this way: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
I don’t see candlelit dinners in there, do you?