Sunday, February 10, 2019

An Ordinary Romance

Even after fourteen years of marriage, my husband cannot wait to come home, and he tells me this often. In fact, it is not uncommon for him to even phone me during the day, where he says he just wants to hear my voice. He honors me often by telling people that his wife creates 'his sanctuary.'

Being a housewife really gives me constant opportunities to improve my marriage. As my husband is an Anglican priest, we have mentored couples dealing with intense marital discord. Every time, I am taken aback by how rampant materialism  has stolen their time and sense of priorities, and of course, romance is the first thing to go. I fervently pray that their hearts would soften and they would be moved to a reorganized life, one based around the Biblical roles of man and woman. It would give them a truly strong foundation and simplify so much that they are going through --and yes, even in the midst of today's daunting financial pressures, it CAN be done...but that is a subject for another post.

Many people are caught on the hamster wheel of over-working and over-spending, and they think that romance must also have elegant expensive trappings. They think romance involves huge bouquets of crimson roses, candlelit dinners at five-star restaurants and the soaring sounds of violins. Or they think of luxury get-away vacations to white-sand beaches or bed-and-breakfasts tucked away in postcard mountain villages.

Candy ceramic hearts from Goodwill.
But I find that romance is truly built on the ordinary. Romance is a cumulative effect of consideration and kindness and even just plain good manners.  It is about seeing your loved one and really noticing all that is good about him or her, noticing it and above all, holding it tight and appreciating it.

Family photos, and a card from our wedding tucked in.
  Many modern women today are terrified of being subservient or overly-generous with their spouses. Feminism has taught them that this is 'beneath them', that it will lead them down a road of being a doormat, or turn them into a meek and rather stupid mouse. It has taught them that to get what you want, you have to fight for it. You have to be vigilant and make sure that you are 'getting your fair share.' They claim that giving so much will just leave a man demanding more and more, that it will lead to abuse and a wasted life. I agree that this can be possible if a woman marries a man with an unsavory character, and in my feminist college days, I certainly knew my share of shady characters. But when a woman marries a truly good, decent man, and especially one that understands the Biblical principles of manhood...well, then this supposition is completely turned on its head. After so many years of marriage, and a marriage with more than its share of financial and medical trials, I can honestly say that the more I give to my husband, the more he gives back to me. It has become a game, centering on who can give more to the other...and I assure you that it is one heck of a lot of fun.

I enjoy doing little things for him every day, like playing relaxing classical or jazz music when he walks in the door, stressed-out and exhausted. Or I might tuck a sweet note in his lunch, or make his favorite meal or dessert. If he mentions something he sees that needs to be done, such as an errand on his already crowded schedule, I will volunteer to do it before being asked. I keep myself looking put together with make-up and nice clothes as much as possible, and maintain a tidy house, so that we have a pleasant environment to enjoy most of the time. I love to bring him a hot cup of tea while he is studying, just because. We savor nice, peaceful dinners together and although I have dishes to do in the evening, I try to keep tasks down so that I can focus on him. I was married to an alcoholic as a young woman, and I know far too well that a loving man should be appreciated, because there are many, many other less-desirable places he could unwind after work besides his home. I also make sure to nurture myself during the day, with a short nap, maybe or some time off to do something purely for fun. I believe that being refreshed improves me as a person, and enables me to be more happily generous.

Silk tulips I received while deathly sick with pneumonia, several years ago.
My husband loves to shower me with little things, as well. In fact, for many years, I have grown cautious about expressing a whim, because he is prone to just go out and get whatever I say I would like. Ever since he brought a sub sandwich lunch to my office after our first date, hubby loves to bring home treats. Whether it's burgers and ice cream on a Friday night because he doesn't want me to have to cook, or ginger ale, sushi, and Chinese chicken soup when I am sick, he loves to go out of his way to make me smile. He acknowledges how hard I work, and in the summer, it's not uncommon for him to suggest we just jump in the car and have a day adventure, just to get out of the house for awhile. In our frigid winters, he insists on warming up the car for me, and will always drop me off at the door of our destination, while he goes to park. He is secure enough to watch a whole lot of chick flicks (I think he secretly likes them)...and he loves to hear about my day, even the most mundane details. I have seen him inspire other men to pamper their ladies, because he will treat me like a Southern belle at parties, bringing me little morsels on a plate. One Christmas, when we were so very broke, we made a pact that we would not buy presents for each other. He shocked me with a wrapped jewelry box, and inside was a Hershey's chocolate kiss.
He goes without so many things; his work shoes wear thin at the soles, and his suit-coats get compliments from people who don't know they come from the thrift store--all so that we can stay solvent and pay our bills. He still calls me his bride, and I have seen other men imitate this practice after being around him. The figurine down below symbolizes how we work through fights; we force ourselves to hold hands and look into each other's eyes. It has de-escalated many a hot-tempered situation, and bonded us even more together.

I think Valentine's Day this year will be simple as always. Maybe a homemade two-layer chocolate fudge cake for dessert or a card tucked under his pillow. But when every day is Valentine's Day, you already have it all.

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