How do you keep romance alive? Please if I had the guaranteed easy answer, I would bottle it, brand it and cash in! I don’t, but this self-proclaimed cynic is also a closet-romantic and I have a philosophy I try to live by: Do something sweet for my husband every day. Not like emptying the dishwasher or making our bed, because these are chores, they are part of the back-and-forth of both of us doing our part and pulling our weight. I’m not talking about listening (though with some of his political remarks, this can be very kind of me to do) or being clear about how I feel. Communication is key and that is cliché, but oh-so-true. I’m talking about something thoughtful that I didn’t have to do, but I did, for him.
Sometimes I write him love notes and stick them in his wallet (though now I’m more likely to tape it to the door leading out to our garage, since he often thinks it’s trash and leaves the note at home without looking at it, if it’s in his wallet – and if it’s tucked away he won’t notice it at all). Sometimes I send him a text that is random and sometimes obscene like, “I fucking love you.” And well I won’t share others. Sometimes I send him an email about a news story I know will fascinate him or a hilarious and/or cute kitty video, because he is so a cat person. And sometimes I go big.
A week from this past Monday (January 12) was a typical not-so-big going big surprise. I went to the florist and got Roy (my husband) a beautiful arrangement of red roses and stargazer lilies. (The stargazer has always been a big deal in our relationship and at our wedding reception. I didn’t give tables numbers so that more sensitive guests couldn’t get all butt-hurt about being seated at table #4 – it would have been my family, not his, and neither of our friends would be this way, but yeah… One of the table names was “Stargazer” after this flower.) I was going to get like a bear and some balloons too, but I didn’t want to go off the deep end and embarrass him so I settled on a pretty gold bow. Next on my list, was to go to his favorite barbecue place and get him a couple of sliders with all of the different sauces on the side. Roy loves barbecue like I love chocolate.
I did my research and knew when he usually took lunch, and I made sure he took a sandwich that morning and didn’t have any errands to run, by doing them myself, so that I could be certain he wouldn’t leave. I also tracked him on GPS because he installed this two-way app on our phones. I had completely forgotten about it until he seriously freaked me out one day by telling me he saw me on X street when he should have been at work. He was using the app, but it works both ways and I haven’t forgotten about it since! Of course, the florist was in a shopping plaza where some of the errands would also take place so I kept my phone on until I went to the restaurant – then I turned it off so he couldn’t track me. I’m always thinking, or at least I like to think I am. 😛 I arrived at his work, and boy was he surprised! The people at his work thought it was sweet, and the girls complained, “I never get flowers!” Haha.
I love surprising Roy. I mean I might be the most selfish person in the world, because I think I might like surprising him more than he likes being surprised! I get a serious rush from it. From excited anticipation to the perfect, “Score!” once I pull it off. It’s like an addiction. Sometimes it’s big surprises like cleaning the entire house – different from chores because I mean CLEAN the ENTIRE house, including all of the things we both keep pushing off. Sometimes it is an elaborate dinner like a rack of ribs with a homemade rub and homemade barbecue sauce (both took some time to perfect!) or baking him something sweet like bread pudding. The sweet thing could be for both of us, but I only count it when it is something he really loves and rarely gets like bread pudding or coconut anything, because I don’t like any of that, so we don’t have it that often. Just like we rarely have seafood because he hates seafood (hey Roy if you read this, think seafood, hint hint).
Sometimes doing something sweet takes hours or an entire day (but we’re talking about the big things) and sometimes it only takes a second. And it’s not supposed to be hard or mess up your work schedule or cause undue stress, it’s just supposed to be thoughtful and deliberate and unnecessary. And if it starts to stress you out, just pull back and remember the effort is all that matters. Like today, I surprised Roy with slow-cooked Italian Shredded Beef. But I was pretty sure I wanted a chuck roast instead of a rump roast (my bad) and then I forgot two secret ingredients I was going to use for the marinade, so I had to settle for it to be fairly basic. And then our crock pot was too small. And I mean it is like 1.5 quarts super tiny and for some reason I always forget this. So what did I do? I played four games of Buffy trivia to get my head back in the game, decided if Roy likes this tonight, next time I’ll try the secret ingredients with the chuck roast, and I stuffed that pot, like packed the fucker in. And it was a tight fit, but it did fit with the exception of the lid. But I needed it covered so I grabbed a large lid to another pan and wallah I made a potentially stressful moment into a make it work moment. And that’s how you do it! 🙂
Also, if you’ve had a tiff this isn’t the same thing. Random sweetness does not equal a doghouse-induced olive branch. And every married person knows what I mean. (I fought the urge to say every husband, but I couldn’t fight the urge to say, I fought the urge. Sorry.) Not that olive branches aren’t important either. I mean if you’re sorry, a genuine apology is always in order, but why not include flowers or candy or a note, just that something extra. This came up last week while Roy and I were at the store:
ME: Look at all of these pretty flowers. [I seriously love getting flowers, possibly more than chocolate.]
Roy: [Laughs] I’m sure you’ll be getting some soon enough.
ME: I doubt it. I only get them when you’re in trouble.
Roy: Yeah, but I live in the doghouse. I’m in there all of the time.
ME: [mock gripe] Yeah all of the time as in once every three months.
We laugh, but it’s true. I only get flowers on special occasions (anniversary, Valentine’s Day, and my birthday) and when Roy is in the dog house. Which as much as we both joke, is about once every three months. I mean we may have small disagreements, but when they happen we talk them out then and there – those never warrant an apology. So to be in the doghouse he has to be caught in a lie, or swear to do something like twenty times and forget and I have to clean up the mess – I mean it has to be something big. He always gets me flowers when he’s “in trouble” and I’ve only received flowers twice since my birthday (which is in late July) so this being late January, the every three months thing is actually quite accurate. And when I’m extending an olive branch it’s usually taking him out somewhere he rarely gets to go or cleaning the house or writing a long-ass love letter because I tend to ramble when I’m in trouble. 😛
We both have our “I’m sorry” rituals down, even if we don’t have to resort to them all that much. And being sorry is important. Recognizing what needs to change, so you aren’t sorry for the same thing again is important, but a marriage can’t be built on it because being sorry that much… I don’t want to think about it. But the, “Hey, I’m thinking of you and just the thought made me smile,” kind of stuff. Do it. Seriously. Every single day. Because it keeps the romance alive and shows your spouse, “Hey, you still do it for me in a serious kind of way.”
And again Roy, if you read this, you still do – in a serious kind of way. And do you think you could surprise me with some flowers soon? I’m going into withdrawal and I don’t want to put you in the doghouse house just to get my flower fix. 😛