The romance of marriage might not look anything like what you thought it would when you first fell in love. Then again, nothing ever does. Hell, I was the best parent in the world before I gave birth and I had a very specific vision of what my romantic life with the man I loved would look like. I didn’t know shit.
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In the beginning, romance meant not being able to keep our hands off of one another. It was every minute of every day being together, or at least wanting to be together. It meant nights sitting on rooftops, snuggled together watching the stars and kissing. In the beginning, it was sitting in his lap, long walks late at night talking about everything and nothing all at the same time. We were in college and on that first night, we met and neither of us was particularly interested in the other but by the end of that night, something unexpected happened; he was everything I never knew I always wanted.
We’ve been married now for almost 17 years now, which comes as a shock to everyone, especially since we got engaged after only 4 months of knowing one another. He said he just knew. I was a little less rash in the beginning but I knew I loved him and I couldn’t imagine spending my life without him.
The romance of marriage evolves as it goes on.
Over time, the definition of romance has changed as we have grown and changed. Before children, it meant long weekends together, eating at 5-star restaurants, dancing and laughing until out legs couldn’t support us any longer. Then it meant making our way back to our hotel room through a fog of alcohol and lust and making love until we collapsed in one another’s arms. Those were the days when everything was ahead of us.
Then on one particularly special weekend spent celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary in New Orleans and life took a pleasantly unexpected turn, we were “blessed” with the conception of our first child. Then, weekends away were no more. Date nights went into retirement for 5 long years but it didn’t matter, we were too tired and too broke to go out anyways. To be honest those first few “date nights” and most after that for a couple years, we spent eating take out in our pajamas in quiet and going to bed at a reasonable hour; sometimes sex happened and sometimes it didn’t and we were both okay with that because anyone who has ever been a parent knows that sleep is way more important for everyone involved. It’s not like we’ve forgotten that “sex” is what got us into this predicament in the first damn place.
Not that I’m bitter about parenthood. I love my children, as much as anyone can love children that are awake. They are my favorite children in the world. I can tolerate their whining almost constantly but we’ve come to a point in our lives where we fully recognize, with the help of some sleep, that our children are only a temporary situation. Parenting little kids is not a permanent status, not in the way it is today or yesterday or will be tomorrow. It is ever changing and evolving. It is amazing, terrible and fantastic all at the same time and I wouldn’t change a second of it (not even the colicky ones or the night terrors or the endless nights of sleeplessness). It’s the best thing I will ever do.
These days date nights are still pretty few and far between for the Big Guy and I. Not that we don’t enjoy a night on the town, it’s just that date night for us means kids sleeping over at Grandma’s and that means a whole lot of coordinating of dates and times because Grandma and Grandpa have a life (more than the Big Guy and I apparently). But sometimes, a couple just needs a date night; a minute to remember whom you were before babies. A second to remember why you used to forgo sleep and food just to devour this other person literally and metaphorically; why they were your everything. They are still there and you need to recognize that, out loud, at least occasionally. A little slap on the ass, deep kiss in the middle of the afternoon or a text that says, ” I can’t stop thinking about you sexy!” can go a long way in reminding them that you still find them to be an attractive sexual being, even if it’s buried under spit up and stains and a hangry attitude.
The romance of marriage is about loving someone so much that you can still see them, even when they feel like they have begun to disappear.
So we jumped through all the hoops, signed all the necessary documents and voila, 3 weeks later we got a date night approved and it was glorious. First, he took me to see a horror movie in.the.theater. That never happens. We are all about the Netflix and Chill situation. In return, I chose a restaurant that he had been wanting to try; a microbrewery in an old warehouse. It was by no stretch of the imagination 5-star but it was quaint and it was nice to be there with him. Hell, I was having such a good time sitting at our chalkboard table, sampling my flight of craft beers (totally out of my comfort zone) that I barely even noticed the herd of hipsters with handlebar mustaches playing chutes and ladders or some shit at the next table. Barely but obviously a little bit. Who the hell cannot stare at a handlebar mustache with a man bun and a Member’s Only jacket playing Chutes and Ladders? Seriously.
We ordered off of the very limited (as if it were secret) menu. My choices were a Nutella hotdog or a BLT with Gouda or some other 3 pub specialties. I chose the BLT because I was starving and needed something to fill my empty stomach that was fighting what I found out the next morning to be the flu. The Big Guy chose some sort of beef sandwich. But none of that was important, what was important was that there we were talking, drinking, laughing and being “us” with no one calling us mommy or daddy for miles.
At one particularly romantic moment of the night, I excused myself to the restroom only to return to my seat to find the words “SEXY!” with an arrow pointing to my seat scribbled in chalk on the table. Sounds simple, right? But it made me feel sexy. It made me feel like he saw me, for the first time in a long time. Of course, he soon followed that message up with his own message on his side of the table, directed toward the waitress, “ Check Please. I’m going home to have SEX!” It made me laugh. It made me feel wanted and we left the hipsters to their chutes and ladders. Sure, it was only 10 p.m. but that was really f*cking adorable.
On the way home I told him that I really wanted something sweet. Obviously, the hipster brew worx didn’t serve dessert unless you count the Nutella on the all beef hotdog. I didn’t. So he stopped by a grocery store, ran in, and returned the sexiest man alive with a box of fudge pop tarts and a giant bouquet of wild flowers from an anniversary floral arrangement shop, just because…my favorite kind of flowers in the world. Apparently, I’m cheap and easy.
It wasn’t a five star date night by any stretch of the imagination but it had the same effect and ended the same way, minus the dancing until our legs gave out because since I broke my leg, it doesn’t work like it used to. Of course, leave it to him to make even that sexy because I’ll be damned if he didn’t give that ugly scar a little kiss while he massaged my leg that night, like he’s done for months while I’ve been recovering from this broken leg.
That’s what the romance of marriage is really about, falling in love with the same person over and over again throughout time. Choosing to love them every day.
What is your definition of the romance of marriage?