This month I asked our columnists to write a few lines about the most romantic thing they have done in the last few years. Many of them had trouble with this subject.
One of our editorial mandates is to carry intimate, first-person narrative pieces. I didn’t understand how hard the romantic challenge was until I began to write mine.
A few weeks ago a relative asked me why my journals no longer focus on the love I have for my husband, the way they did when we were first married. I hadn’t noticed the change, but after reading some back issues I see that he is indeed right.
I suppose it is because we’re still in the process of learning what marriage is all about. I find that writing about the personal, intimate details of my life – which wasn’t a problem before marriage – is much harder now that there is someone else sharing in my aspirations and mistakes. Although I was raised in a family that always spoke openly about our problems – airing our dirty laundry without restraint – my life is now joined to a man who doesn’t care to have his private life hung out on the line. He is strong and decisive, and also shy and reserved. The voice inside me, my writing voice, is learning to speak in ways that won’t embarrass him, but it’s a long process and at times I need a little more editing than I once did.
The love I have for Greg is the most important thing in my life. The intimate issues that I might have written about revolve around the challenges we face in making our love important every day. Our issues are probably similar to those that most couples go through in their first year of marriage. With deadlines, meetings and social events it’s easy to put romance and passion on the back burner. But passion can boil over and we’ve found that our love needs to be tended with careful hands.
The romantic scenarios of prime-time television don’t even come close to portraying the harmony between passion and friendship that steers us through our days. When I fumble to understand what a romantic action is I can’t help thinking of those two things: passion and friendship.
What I view as romantic are gestures that show deep understanding for the other person’s desires. So although I may want bum rubs and intimate conversation, I know that my husband doesn’t desire the same sort of thing. My ways of being romantic with him are based on what I believe he desires: cooking his favourite dinner and suggesting a game of foosball, or dinner at the pub down the street where we watch the hockey game. I find that desiring to do something that he enjoys, and developing a passion for it in myself, is one of the most romantic things that I can do for him.
As we grow closer, I am beginning to understand what will embarrass my husband and what won’t. Like the futile months of fertility clinics and doctor’s offices we’ve faced together over the past year. After months of hormone injections, mood swings and ultrasounds, we finally decided to take a break from it all. The instant flashes of anger that came with the hormones are now gone. And we’re both feeling as if we managed to survive a monster that invaded our home. I smashed more of my husband’s beer glasses than I care to admit, and I’ve never bought as many new ones as I did after the hormone therapy ended.
We both feel as if we are in a state of calm, the calm after a huge storm has blown over. We looked around to see if there was any damage but found that together we are stronger than ever before.
We’ve decided to try a new Chinese herbal therapy program that involves acupuncture. Lying side by side in the doctor’s office the other day with needles poked into our stomachs was, for me, romantic. I doubt others would agree, but the passion and desire in the act of trying to create something together is extremely intimate. And I never would have imagined how sexy this mission of trying to make a baby is.
I’m not sure if I should write about the tender moments that come after a huge fight, when we are both a little bruised but want desperately to get inside the other, to make our connection as strong and deep as it was before. Should I write about the emptiness I feel each month when I learn I’m not pregnant and I know that a child is one of the things that Greg wants most? Or should I write about the way he can make me feel so completely loved that I don’t want to breathe for fear the moment will end? There are so many things I might write about and so many that I’m slowly learning are just for us.
Last night I woke with his body curved up tight against mine. I listened to his steady breathing and lay still, soaking up the feeling. The warmth of his body, the strength of his arm as it curved around me. My version of heaven would involve hours upon hours of that moment. That feeling of love, of being loved and loving intensely is what romance is all about.