Friday, June 17, 2011
Unfortunately, that relationship proved to be an unhappy one for both of us, and we parted ways right after Christmas of our senior year of high school. In the days and weeks that followed, I analyzed every painful moment, every offense, every wrong. One of my strongest objections to his behavior during our time as a couple was that I felt it was all about the show for him. He had given me good chocolate in a heart-shaped box, he had borrowed his uncle's fancy Cadillac when we went somewhere fancy, and he had given me an expensive gift for Christmas, right before our breakup. But underneath all the ostentation, he had been hurtful, disrespectful, and unfaithful -- if not in deed, certainly in thought and speech. I don't want to demonize him: he wasn't the worst guy in the world by any stretch, we were both young and immature at the time, and it's not like I was a perfect girlfriend. But he didn't treat me with the respect he should have, and the relationship was ultimately damaging to me in many ways.
I started dating the man who would eventually become my husband fairly soon after that relationship ended. It was certainly early enough to be considered a "rebound," and I doubt many people thought it would last. In retrospect, I realize that I did struggle with the whirlwind nature of it all, and it probably would have been better to wait a bit longer before agreeing to see someone else. But after many months of friendship, I found that I had developed feelings for the gallant Mr. Campbell (code crush name: "Soup"), and a mutual friend of ours (who ended up being the best man at our wedding) warned me that another girl was interested in him, and that I'd better give him some indication of my interest lest he be scooped up by someone else. Something told me I didn't want to let a chance with him slip away.
Which was certainly true. :)
Part of what delighted me most about "Soup" during the early days of our courtship was how different he was from my previous boyfriend. He was always respectful, always courteous, always faithful, always considerate and thoughtful of my feelings. It was clear from the very beginning that he held me in the utmost regard. He was gentle and kind and he never belittled my then-highly emotional perspective on life. He also was not showy. Yes, he gave me a teddy bear on Valentine's Day, but there were no expensive chocolates or fancy cars, and no flowery formal invitation to prom. We just went. (And exchanged our first "I love yous.")
As time went on, I (thankfully) was able to move on from the painful memories of my previous relationship, and my admiration and affection for my now-husband were simply about him, not him in comparison to a less worthy man. I maintained, however, a bullheaded prejudice toward romantic gestures. Based on two data points, I concluded that there were two types of men in the world: men who were unfit boyfriends who would occasionally try to make up for their shortcomings with a big show of flowers or candy or glitz, and men who were wonderful boyfriends who didn't need to do such things. My oversimplified, misguided perspective was only reinforced over the years when I observed other unworthy guys pull out the occasional romantic showstopper. "I'd rather have a guy who was good to me all the time," I'd always think.
And, of course, I would. A million times over. But lately I have come to realize that sweet, romantic, swoon-inducing gestures are not necessarily the hallmarks of bad boys. Hardly! And as I look back on my days with Mr. Fancypants, I recognize that maybe the rosy prom invite wasn't so crazy after all. I think a lot of his other moves were motivated by the wrong reasons, but I'm fairly sure that one was pure-hearted, and I probably should have accepted it as sweet instead of shrugging it off as superfluous.
Now, please don't think that I'm accusing my darling husband of being unromantic. He is far from it! Over the years, he has surprised me with flowers time and again (the most recent being just last month for Mother's Day), selected beautiful and elegant pieces of jewelry as gifts, and performed innumerable loving gestures like cleaning up the kitchen so I don't have to, putting on a CD in his car that he doesn't love but he knows I do, and carefully determining whether I prefer CGI or Muppet Yoda so he could surprise me with a poster of my favorite Star Wars character (I prefer Muppet, by the way). However, I've managed to make it fairly obvious that I'm not into fancy restaurants and would just as soon go to Baja Fresh, that I'm content with my current fine jewelry collection and I don't mind if I never get another new piece, and that I'd rather save money than spend it on romantic stuff. All of which stands, by and large, but...
Lately I've been longing for romance. I imagine that having an eleven-and-a-half-month-old daughter, no family nearby, and no babysitters might have something to do with it. My husband and I rarely get alone time, and when we do, we usually just watch TV. The other night I wistfully mentioned that I wished we could go on a marriage retreat, even a short one, but that it would be impossible as we have no one to watch our daughter (and as often as she still nurses, it simply couldn't happen). My sweet husband looked up some retreat exercises online the following day, and we did some, but they felt a little silly. (Disclaimer: it wasn't that extensive of a search, and I'm sure a more thorough gander around the Interwebs would yield some more fruitful exercises.)
So my question is, how can we add some romance into our lives? And yes, of course, I realize it's not a one-sided issue! I want to perform more romantic gestures, too (even though my husband is perfectly content with the amount of romance in our marriage). One way I've been trying to do that is through dressing in a prettier, more feminine fashion. I've hit some snags along this road, as I've mentioned here before. But it still strikes me as a worthy endeavor that I'm happy to continue.
Is there anyone else experiencing a similar yearning? Can anyone offer some sweet romantic suggestions for a young married couple with limited funds and even more limited time when our darling daughter is asleep?