Twelve years ago I would have told you that my husband wasn’t a very romantic guy.
Which was okay with me, for the most part. I wanted to marry a guy with substance. One who had a backbone, a heart for the Lord, and a willingness to get his hands dirty working hard.
Actually, I kind of judged men by the state of their hands.
(It wasn’t an accident that I married a guy with calluses and grease stains.)
I figured there was a bit of a trade-off: I married the guy who would get dirty doing physical labor and in exchange, I would be happy without roses and poetry and sweet talk.
(Cuz let’s be honest, roses and poetry and sweet talk don’t go too well with fence building, or herding cattle, or rebuilding tractor engines.)
But somewhere along the way, as we worked through our marriage and through the sorrows and joys of life, my understanding of what romance really is began to deepen and grow. I started looking around and seeing places where my husband showed deference and care for me in deeper ways than I ever expected.
The problem wasn’t whether or not a man worked with dirt or in grease (turns out there are plenty of amazing guys who don’t know how to run a grease gun)—the problem was that the Hollywood-type romance never did exist– instead there was something different, something better.
I found it in the most random places, like the winter mornings when I need to go somewhere and he would spend hours getting the driveway cleared of snow and my car cleaned off and ready for me. Or the time he spent hours trimming our cow’s tails because I got hit in the face with a tail full of manure and he felt so bad—he worked until his hands bled to make sure my work would be easier.
The Key to Discovering what Romance Really Is
It turns out, the key to discovering real romance is paying attention.
It’s noticing details and listening closely and seeing the things that are done with compassion and thoughtfulness. It’s recognizing all the big and little things that add up to romance at a deeper level than anything Hollywood ever crafted.
And even though the news is traveling pretty rapidly that the movies are fake—we can’t forget to pass on the stories of the things that are real.
Let me tell you about real-life-romance, because it does exist.
Sure, in farm-related things like my story carries–but in so many other ways too.
Romance is there in tiny traditions like bringing you coffee from town, or mailing cards to you even though you live at the same address and he could just leave it on the counter, or washing the dishes after every meal because he knows it’s your least favorite job. It’s driving you to work because you don’t like driving in the snow, or sending you texts or silly GIF’s throughout the day.
Real-Life-Romance is a quirked smile from across the room. A whispered, “I like you,” as you pass each other in the hall. It’s the tense moments after a disagreement when one of you falters and gives in and everything is dropped and forgiven in seconds.
Real-Life-Romance is the five-minute date on the couch.
The thirty-second kiss goodbye at the door.
The ten-minute walk around the yard.
The thirty-minute grocery run.
Real-Life-Romance is when you’re crying and confused and frustrated and he just whispers prayers into your hair. It’s when you tell the story you’ve been dreading and instead of irritation or disgust he just elbows you in the side and smirks and says, “Huh, you’re not perfect? That’s weird.”
There isn’t a rule list, and the possibilities are endless.
Romance literally means “a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love” and we can choose to be excited over the real things. The every day (yet extraordinary) things that are proof we’re covenanted together, living life together, working together—these can be the things that enthrall us and excite us and fulfill us.
Romance can be found in anything that shows how we are seen by the other.
Maybe it will be with chocolate or gifts or flowers or love notes. But probably more often it will be with plowed driveways, or oil changes, or your coffee made just right.
Let’s all learn to pay attention and celebrate the real-life-romance right in front of us.
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For those who enjoy fiction, there’s also a little Valentine’s Day Parable: