yes, I know, as a woman, I’m supposed to like romance novels.
Depending upon one’s values, what’s marketed to women runs the gamut from
boymeetsgirlandoneofthemisprobablyAmish, they fall chastely in love, seek the advice of mentors, have a little spat, get back together, get married, and there, gentle reader, we shall draw a curtain over those tender and delightful moments
boymeetsgirl, they fall into bed (really? the only person more creative at naming male anatomy than your average 11 year old boy is a romance writer), fight, fall into bed, fight, fall into love, move in together and/or get married.
Of course, they aren’t entirely that simplistic – sometimes there’s vampires! or bad guys! or that good-looking man in the church choir! – but there’s definitely a formula readers of the genre tend to expect.
I don’t like any of it. I don’t find it real, it’s nothing I can relate to (except, perhaps, some of the more eyebrow-raising moments. 😉 But truth be told…if it’s something I’d be angry at my husband for watching, then I have no business reading it.)
Our story? Our story was nothing like the formulas say it should be.
We met – and we didn’t fall in bed, or in love, on our first date. Or our fourth. Or anywhere around then. He didn’t even *kiss* me until I was legally an adult 😉 After all…we met when I was 17 to his 26. If the people who introduced us and arranged that first blind date hadn’t lied about the age difference, we’d never have even consented to meet.
So we took it slow – glacially slow – we didn’t marry until we’d known each other almost 4 years. We took time to get to know each other, and no, there were no formulaic breakups with passionate reconciliations. There was no “other person”, no encroaching threat, certainly no vampires or bad guys.
There were just two people, from similar backgrounds yet drastically different cultures, learning about each other, enjoying each others company, going out for pizza and ice skating and the occasional moonlit walk in the snow.
Did we fall in love? Obviously, yes – neither of us would have gotten married without loving the other one!
Was it everything the romance novels say it should be?
Of course not – if I judged our life by those books, I’d be disappointed and upset. And yet…when I judge those books by my life – it’s the books that disappoint and upset me.
In all the excitement of boymeetsgirl/love/fight/love/the-end, there’s no room for romances like the one my husband and I share.
You know…things like
- driving 4 hours each way, multiple times a week, to be together as much as possible when our jobs had us living in two different countries
- being sick – dreadfully horribly embarrassingly sick – and having him hold back my hair and bring me a drink and give me sympathy
- holding each other after the death of our first child, and sharing comfort instead of blame
- finding our way, together, out of years of spiritual abuse
- laughing at things only the two of us would find funny
- locking eyes across a room and *knowing* exactly what he’s thinking
- locking eyes across a room and having him know *exactly* what I’m thinking
- fixing my coffee the way he does every day, just the way I like it, with coffee beans that make him gag
- knowing if I pack his lunch for work, that 2 minute chore makes him feel loved all day
- telling me I’m beautiful even when I’ve gained 50 pounds in 2 days (pre-e/pregnancy complications. I don’t recommend it.)
- sitting on the side of the bed, in the dark, sobbing at 3am as I tried to nurse a wailing, premature newborn…and having him whisper “Thank you. Thank you for doing this so our son has what he needs.”
- knowing that he would do anything, up to and including laying down his life, to protect me and our son
- seeing him walk out the door day after day, at the oddest hours, because he wants to provide for us
- knowing that he’s not threatened by my job, that also provides for us
- being total opposites in so many things – reading habits, technical/mechanical understanding, socialization needs – and giving each other room to be an individual person
- knowing that he’s a feminist, too
- agreeing on how we parent our son – I’ll never hear “Daddy hit/spanked/slapped me while you were gone”
- saying “I love you” before we hang up the phone or leave the house
- changing his clothes and taking a shower before he touches me, if he’s eaten almonds at work (I’m so very allergic!)
- driving me an hour each way once a week, so I can hang out with my knitting friends – while he and our son wait patiently in the car for 2 hours – just so we can spend part of the evening together
- cracking up mid-fight sometimes, just because we find the humor in the same odd things
- tolerating my not-so-pristine-car-keeping habits
These are just a very few of the things in this life we’ve built together, in the almost 18 years we’ve known each other.
In year 15 of our marriage, he still can take my breath away with a glance or a touch.
I still look forward to seeing him walk in the door each day, even though I may only have time for a hug and a kiss and a hurried “got to answer more emails, you’re cooking tonight!” – because I know he loves me, we’re on the same team, and we both do whatever it takes to run our home.
For us, for he and I and our love story, the romance didn’t truly start until we married and became one. And there’s no book out there, no matter how well written, that can compare to this day to day life I’m building with this man.
It’s not the stuff grand sweeping epics are made of, it’s not the thing purple-cover-paperbacks are made of (thank God!)…but it’s our life, and our love.