Romance is Unique, Not Universal

Romance is unique, not universal

Have you heard the message? Every Valentine’s Day, our culture screams that romance is:

  • teddy bears
  • chocolates
  • a pink-and-red-and-white card
  • flowers
  • a date night written on a particular calendar square

Not that there’s anything wrong with any of these, but it does make me wonder.

  • How many women and men are being held hostage to a standard of “romance” that doesn’t even, really, matter?
  • How many husbands are guilted into buying things their wife may not even want?
  • How many wives feel unloved if their husband doesn’t do “x”, despite the fact that he’s a good man who shows love in other ways, 364 other days of the year?

For my part, I would think my husband had lost his mind if he brought me a stuffed animal. Or I would think that *he* thought I’d lost mine. I don’t like chocolate. Honestly, I would never just sit and eat a piece of chocolate. Never. (I hear you gasping, but it’s true. I’ll eat a Reese’s PB cup but it’s really for the PB.) I don’t need a card, flowers, or a date night (although I’m thankful if/when I receive those).

But do you know what’s romantic to me? My husband doing things like:

  • a year or two ago, programming into my phone to ding @ 9:45 each morning and remind me, “You’re my girl.”
  • rubbing my feet with body butter occasionally while we watch a movie.
  • telling me, “Go!” when I have a rare opportunity to get a few hours of solitude for journaling and writing.
  • even when he works the early morning shift (leaving by 4:45 am), he doesn’t leave the house without kissing me

And here’s the other thing I want to share with you:

If my husband didn’t do those things, those things wouldn’t be what’s “romantic” to me. Because “romantic” (to me) means, the things HE does. So if he didn’t do those, but did other things instead, THAT would define romance for me. I don’t want to treasure the actions of others.

I don’t want to prize what other women’s (real or imaginary) husbands do for them.

  • One friend’s husband buys tickets to send her on a trip to visit a special place or friend.
  • Another’s takes her shopping and buys something she’ll love
  • Another does nothing fancy on “big” days, but gives smiles and kindness throughout the year
  • Another’s husband does anything his wife gives him to do on his “honey-do” list
  • Someone else gets taken for a fancy dinner
  • Another’s buys her a new car, or the van she’s been eyeing all year
  • Maybe someone’s husband intuitively knows just the right thing to get & gets it for her (rare, but some actually do).

But those are what *their* husband has done for them.

Romance isn’t “what other women’s husbands do for them.”

Romance isn’t “what I wish my husband would do.” (Although sometimes, especially in the early years, or if we’ve never communicated those things, it’s OK to talk about those things and let him know what would mean a lot to you.)

Romance isn’t what the TV, magazine, Pinterest, Target aisle, jewelry commercial, or advertisement says he should do for me.

Romance is not universal among women.

And romance is something quite different from forced purchases or activities on a particular day. Now, I don’t want to sound like a grumpy grumperton. I like what Paul David Tripp said about Valentine’s Day: “Husbands and wives, I’m all for romantic acts and sexual intimacy on Valentine’s Day, but these things are the fruit of a healthy marriage, not the foundation.”

Romance is what my husband does for me, or what your husband does for you, however big or however small, that lets you know he really does love you. It’s the overflow of the real relationship, not the foundation or the measure of it.

Romance is unique, not universal. 

Have you been evaluating your husband by some outside standard, or comparing him to other people’s husbands? Wives, let’s check our hearts and make sure that we’re defining romance by the right standards– the standard of the one husband that God has given us.

 

Image courtesy of NutdanaiApikhomboonwaroot/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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13 Responses

  1. LOVE! I have thought this numerous times. It is deadly to compare our husbands in anyway… I have seen it destroy marriages… especially by women who read “romance novels”.

    “If my husband didn’t do those things, those things wouldn’t be what’s “romantic” to me. Because “romantic” (to me) means, the things HE does. So if he didn’t do those, but did other things instead, THAT would define romance for me. I don’t want to treasure the actions of others.”

    Genius! allowing our husband decide what would define romance for us is bound to leave us more satisfied and thankful!

    • Jess Connell says:

      It is deadly to compare our husbands in anyway… I have seen it destroy marriages… especially by women who read “romance novels”.

      I completely agree! Our hearts are so fickle and so easily led astray if we aren’t actively working against the pull of culture and sin.

  2. Beth says:

    I am so glad you wrote this article, Jess! My husband and I feel the stereotypical pressures every year for Valentine’s Day (mostly because of social media!). We have to talk through it every year and remind each other that one day a year does not determine the state of our marriage. Just an example, I love daisies, and occasionally my hubby pics up the $4.99 daisies at the grocery store “just because.” That means way more to me that one big bouquet of expensive roses on Valentine’s Day!

    • Jess Connell says:

      Just an example, I love daisies, and occasionally my hubby pics up the $4.99 daisies at the grocery store “just because.” That means way more to me that one big bouquet of expensive roses on Valentine’s Day!

      YES! This is exactly right!

      It’s kind of like keeping our eyes on our own page and not looking at what our neighbor is putting down for her answer. :)

  3. Kaitlin says:

    AMEN!!! I love how you put all of this!!! I’m not against Valentine’s day – but my hubby and I have never partook or ‘celebrated’ it! For us, romance is deeper then what the calendar and thus, retail world, would have us believe!! We celebrate our love all year…no obviously not everyday and yes (obviously) there are ‘bad’ days – but we love to love each other in the ways that are unique to us and our relationship – as we see it needs to be and not as our culture dictates! Even, as we are coming up to our 10th anniversary, I said to my husband – “Do you think we feel the need to celebrate this particular anniversary in a “big” way…because our culture says we should??” We don’t have a lot of money, I’ll be three weeks away from having our fourth baby and thus my hubby will be on parental leave after- so is a ‘big’ 10th anniversary celebration what we need? Amazing how our culture can mould us so! 😛 Anyways….sorry for the ramble…I just thought your articulated this subject very well!! 😀

    • Jess Connell says:

      We don’t have a lot of money, I’ll be three weeks away from having our fourth baby and thus my hubby will be on parental leave after- so is a ‘big’ 10th anniversary celebration what we need?

      EXACTLY.

      It is so easy to take on these expectations and then feel “less than” in situations like this, when REALLY, it is waaaaaaay more important to consider the LIFE we are building together rather than the one-off holidays we celebrate (or don’t).

  4. Laura says:

    Love this! I’ve been thinking this for years.

  5. Jennifer Collins says:

    My husband has always said, “Every day is Valentine’s Day with you, Babe.”

  6. Doug says:

    I love you!

    Doug

    PS: You’re my girl 😉

  7. Donna Sposata di Maria says:

    This is beautiful, and exactly what I needed to hear today! I’m not sure how I found your site (probably a link from someone else’s) :) but I’m very glad I did. I’ll most certainly be back, and thinking on the ideas you offer here, as I seek to embrace the beauty and truth of my own marriage. Thank you!

  8. Daphne B says:

    From a woman who is engaged to be married, this was an insightful read.

  1. June 15, 2016

    […] FAVORITE: Romance is Unique, Not Universal “Every Valentine’s Day, our culture screams out definitions of romance according to […]

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