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Laura Hunt

What's Romance All About?

Photography: Willis Preston Campbell

We talked about our wedding proposals. Jane described how her husband picked her up, took her to their favorite spot overlooking the Mississippi River, and to her surprise fell onto his knees and proposed. "I did not have the faintest idea he had planned this," she still blushed, remembering the event that happened twenty five years ago.
Peggy imitated her husband's southern drawl when he proposed to her on the phone: "I have already told my folks that we are going to get married, what do you think?"
I told the story of a young couple that had set a date on which they proposed to each other.
"What about you?" They asked me.
"Well, there was never a real proposal. We knew we would eventually get married and when he was accepted at a university abroad, he said it would be easier to get married before if I wanted to join him."
"Oh," they replied, and Susan asked shyly, "and where was the romance?"

So, what really is romance? Most of us will think about candlelight dinners, a walk on a beach, or a stay in a cozy hotel. Romance for women often means being spoiled, pampered, and cherished; for men it is more part of the courtship. The other day a woman complained to Dr. Phil: "My husband was so romantic before the wedding. He brought me flowers or presents each time before he picked me up to wine and dine in fancy restaurants. Now after we are married, he hardly takes me to a restaurant anymore, and I don't remember when I got my last flowers." Dr. Phil answered with his famous: "Get real, lady," and I might have added: "Don't mistake being spoiled with romance."

Soon Valentine's Day is coming up, the ultimate day on which Romance is celebrated. More cards are mailed on this day than on Christmas, and the prices for flowers, red roses in particular, reach astronomical heights. The History Channel lists President Harry Truman and his wife Beth as one of the most romantic couples, due to the fact that they wrote each other thousands of letters. Over thirteen thousand letters, mostly his, are saved in the Truman Library.

Generally, women love to celebrate Valentine's Day. Men go along because they know how important it is for the women in their lives. One time my children asked me which flowers I'd like best. Being a considerate mom, I told them to postpone buying flowers to a time when the flower prices were down to earth again. Guess what? My children forgot about flowers as soon as February 14 was over, but they remembered that I had told them flowers are too expensive on Valentine's Day. So, don't be too considerate; let your boyfriend spoil you when he remembers.

My husband thinks February 14 is a business invention and refuses to follow its rules. So I do the planning: a nicely decorated table, good food, good wine, and good music, and, yes, a card from Maya Angelou's collection. This year I asked him if he wanted to do the cooking. He agreed, but it turns out that we are invited to attend a birthday party that day. "You are lucky, no cooking on Valentine's Day for you," I teased.
"No," he answered "I promised to prepare dinner, I'll just do it another time."

I know he will. He always keeps his promises; he also brings me flowers from time to time, just not on Valentine's Day. My birthday flowers are lilies of the valley. It's always a challenge to find them, but he is very determined. Sometimes he drove miles and miles to pick them up from some remote nurseries that grow them. Once he brought them from a business trip, kept fresh in wet paper towels, and protected by a Tupperware container. I love last year's story the best. He already had asked in several flower shops--to no avail. In the last one, a customer was so touched by his quest to find the tiny bells for his wife that she offered him her lilies of the valley grown in a sizable patch in her backyard. He followed her to her home, and together they picked me the best bouquet ever.

Romance is perceived quite differently by each person. Try to understand what your partner cherishes the most. However, it is not only the gift that tells how much you are loved; there are the things, the little ones, you have to watch for that show how much you are treasured and if you can trust this person. Romance is closeness, it is slowing down, concentrating on the one we love, tuning into each other's senses: feeling, touching, smelling, listening, and expressing our deepest thoughts. Romance can occur suddenly, might come unexpectedly--a look into each other's eyes, a touch of the hands, the music of the first dance--it is when your souls touch that you know this is real Romance.


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