Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Some thoughts on romance.
We tend to pooh-pooh this concept when we're faced with disappointment and hurt, or are alone. We might even say we don't believe in it at all. Other times we are wrapped up in its power and can easily be swept away in the tumultuous waves of passion and intimacy. But really, what is romance?
Is it sending a text message that says "UR Hot?" Gene Simmons suggested recently that, in fact, this is not romance. Go, Gene Simmons.
He brings up a good point. There is a disconnect now that we haven't had before. It used to be *work* to connect with our loved ones, unless we lived in the same house. If you wanted to say "thank you" or "you're invited," you wrote. Like, a letter. With your hands. And paper. Maybe you had to keep an inkwell filled and a good, sharpened quill. There were no computers, no cell phones, no texting and no evites. There were no electronic greeting cards and no voicemails.
There was one thing, though: Investment. There was a personal, emotional, spiritual and certainly time-involved investment in communication. You meant what you said and you said what you meant, or it was going to be forever memorialized in written form. Tangible, documented, forever. That's big stuff.
I see Facebook as such a wonderful invention, but sadly I see it abused. I see status updates that divulge private marital issues, issues beyond what Facebook friends have business seeing. It is so hard to keep some things private or to ones' self, and some things should be shared. In person. On the phone. Privately with the select one or two people who are best for sharing heartaches and frustrations. Not the 200 people on a "friends' list," which is really a contact list with a variety of folks on it. I worry that we dishonor our partners when we espouse the various sins, disappointments, and heartbreaks we experience with them with a few clicks of the keyboard.
I'm not criticizing or trying to hurt. I have very close friends and people I love very much whom I have seen do this very thing, and I know that they have the best of intentions. I really do. I would just caution putting your love life and your partnership with your spouse or loved one on the line and drawing attention for everyone to see and know their faults. In marriage, at least, I feel this dishonors your spouse. Just a thought.
Till when? Till what? Till...it becomes hard? Till it becomes unbearably hard? Till you hurt me deeply, disappoint me, fail me, misunderstand me? Till I become bored? Till what my idea of romance, which might actually be infatuation, begins to fade? Till the newer, fresher, blonder, slimmer version comes along? Till death do us part, really? Really. Really? Holy crap. That is huge. That is HUGE. So much so, that when entered into in a Christian marriage, it is considered a covenant with God. So there are three in the marriage--you, spouse, God. Probably best to not have it in that order. I know I often have it in that order: ME, spouse, then God. Hmmmmm....I've found that when I reverse that order--God, spouse, me--things seem to work so much better. And guess what? Romance, over time, becomes restored.
Romance is a time commitment, a decision. It is the act of love. Love is a feeling and a decision, but romance is the verb part. It's what you do and how you act when you decide to love your partner. Yeah, inconvenient as it is sometimes, love is a choice, and sometimes not an easy one. It sometimes really sucks. It isn't some that "happens" to you--like the cheating spouse may say, "I didn't mean to do it, it just happened!" Well, unless rendered unconscious and made to do so somehow against his/her will, I will argue that this is completely untrue. You make a decision to behave, to love, to act on it, and you do so accordingly. People don't accidentally fall in love---they may notice each other and have desires, yes, but they do not love any other way but on PURPOSE. It is then work and a choice to continue to nurture that love.
Romance takes work. Active, sometimes incredibly humbling, work. It is a spirit of compromise and the belief that sometimes, or maybe all the time, it is better to honor and love your spouse/partner than it is to be RIGHT. It is the ultimate irony that we carefully choose our partner, we make a decision for better AND for worse, to love forever, till death do us part, etc etc, and then we go into the world and treat complete strangers we meet better than that partner once we are home. We get comfortable and we rest on our laurels. We get lazy. We assume. We let things slide. Pretty soon days, weeks, months, and God forbid years, go by and we have lost intimacy and passion in our relationship. Why? We didn't work at it. Is all lost? No. It can be found, anyway. But with just a card or a conversation or a gesture or two picked up from the Shell station on your way home from work? Nope. It needs more. That's a start, yes---but delve deeper. Deep wounds require deep healing, not just bandaids. They also require forgiveness.
I am happy to report that my partner and I decided just over a year ago that we needed to work on our communication and support of each other. We had some cogs out of place, and we needed to get it figured out. We were facing a deployment and that was no time to have marital strife...it would not get better while he was gone, we knew. So we sought help. It made a world of difference, even thought it really was as simple as having a third person (trained) to listen and offer suggestions and observations. After a few months of work and reframing and listening--LISTENING--to each other, working on assumptions and presumptions, we came out of the experience closer and more in sync and more in love than ever.
If your car is making a knocking noise and has strange fluids coming out where they shouldn't, you have maintenance done (or if you're trained you do it yourself, I realize). If you have chronic pain, you see a doctor. Heck, if your fingernails look like crap, you probably get a mani (and maybe even a pedi). If your relationship needs help, it would follow that perhaps you should check out a third party "help." There are books and boooks and booooookkkks. Whatever your taste runs, you can find it. I have a few that I think are invaluable. I'll suggest them now.
The Love Dare by Alex and Stephen Kendrick
The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman
a movie, which mentions The Love Dare, called Fireproof, is also great.
The texts and movie are Christian-based. I realize not everyone reading this may be Christian. I don't have books to suggest that are secular or within other religions, but I do love Google! :)
Let's refocus and get back to brass tacks with our love and romance. It's a dying artform to truly love and romance a person, and I challenge you to work on it with your partner. The rewards are amazing. :)
Thanks for reading my soapbox for the day. And please forgive me if I've stepped on any toes. This wasn't "aimed" at anyone at all--it was aimed at everyone, including myself! xox