Romance in a Long Term Relationship – Redefining The Romantic Gesture
Summary: Forget what you’ve been taught about romance. It’s not about chocolates, candlelight or bubble baths. In a long-term relationship being romantic is doing anything practical that shows you care and are thinking about the other person.
“What’s going on in here?”
“Uh, I prepared a bubble bath for you.”
“You know I don’t care for baths. Plus our tub is so uncomfortable and small. Did you even rinse it down before you filled it?
“Huh? You mean wash the bath tub?”
“Yes, you need to wash the tub first before filling it otherwise the water will be dirty.”
“But it’s a bathtub. We shower in it everyday. It’s like the cleanest thing in the house.”
“No, it’s one of the dirtiest because we’re always standing in it with dirty feet and rinsing our bodies in it! And what the hell are all these candles doing in here? Is the light broken?”
“No, I just thought it would nice to have a bath by candlelight…”
“Great, now there’s going to be wax over everything. You didn’t even put candle holders or plates underneath all of them. There must be like twenty! Do you have any idea how hard it is to get wax off? I already have to deal with bits of your surf wax getting everywhere now I have to deal with this.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll clean it up, just enjoy your bath.”
“One, I don’t want to take a bath and two, even if I did I couldn’t enjoy it because I’d be thinking about the mess I’d need to clean up afterwards. That’s hardly relaxing. You want to help me relax? Try not messing up the house for once!”
“I told you I’d take care of it.”
“Yeah right, I know how you clean and it’s not good enough. I’ll just have to clean after you anyway.”
“Look, I understand you’re trying to do something nice for me, and I appreciate the sentiment, but this is not helping. I’m going to put on my pajamas and watch my shows. Have you watched Top Chef yet?”
“No, I was waiting to watch it with you.”
“Great, just let me change and…What the fuck! What is this shit all over the floor and bed?”
“Those are rose pedals, I thought…”
“I just vacuumed and put on new sheets! God dammit, why are you doing this to me? Pick up every one of those pedals very carefully and put them in the compost. The last thing I need are good sheets stained with flower pedal juice.”
“Fuck, I’m sorry Ok.! I was just reading online about romantic things that you can do for your partner and thought I’d try one.”
“Well, whoever wrote that was an idiot and obviously never thought it through.”
“Well, on hindsight I guess I’d have to agree with that assessment.”
Now if I was ever stupid enough to follow the advice from your typical pop culture “romance expert” this is exactly how it would go down in my house. Anything that creates more work or mess is not romantic. Trying to make my partner do things that are out of her normal preferences is not romantic. Big elaborate non-practical surprises are not romantic.
I’m the same way as well. I don’t want clichés displays of affection. I just want something useful that makes my like easier.
My partner likes flowers. So much so she buys them regularly and keeps a vase in the kitchen and one in the bathroom. It looks nice. So surprising her with flowers is always appreciated because it’s what she would normally do for herself and she knows that the last thing on my mind is decorating the house with flowers. So getting flowers demonstrates that I thought about her and then took action.
Another thing she likes is Princess Cake from Hoffman’s Bakery. Now I’d never get princess cake for myself because it’s way too sweet. Plus the bakery is in downtown Santa Cruz and she doesn’t pass through there too often. So princess cake is a treat. That’s why she really likes it when I surprise her with a slice. It’s something she enjoys but it’s inconvenient for her to get. Getting her a slice shows I was thinking about her because I would never buy it for myself.
On the other hand, my partner knows that I have trouble dealing with all the little stuff. If it’s a broken this or that, or a missing or cracked thingy, it will take me forever to get off my butt and replace it if I can somehow work around the problem. I’m just preoccupied with bigger issues. So for me, a romantic gesture is taking care of one of these issues.
One of the best gifts she ever got me was a new headlight on my car. It had been broken for months and it was only a matter of time before I got a fix-it ticket. It was clear that I needed a new one but I was not making it a priority. So on my birthday she went down to Kragen and bought a replacement, then with the guidance of a neighbor she replaced the headlight herself. I was an awesome gift that made me quite happy and gave me a nice warm and fuzzy feeling inside.
Other romantic gestures have included getting me a new pack of my favorite socks when my drawer is full of worn out ones, getting me some new Alfani shirts after I’ve frayed and stained the others to an unacceptable level, and making sure I never run out of my favorite ginger crystals. It may sound simple but when she takes care of these things for me it’s really, really nice. It frees my mind and warms my heart.
Now my partner and I are very practical people. We’re just not that impressed with fluff. Useful, logical well thought out gestures turn us on. But I hardly doubt we’re the only couple like this. I assume that most couples who’ve been together for a decade or more and have kids would really appreciate a useful needs-inspired surprise.
Does your partner really need another box of See’s chocolates or would replacing her stock of energy bars be a better choice? Would she rather have a half-assed back rub from you or a gift certificate to a massage therapist who knows what they are doing? Does she need a bubble bath by candlelight or would giving the kids a bath while she watches her favorite show be a better way to show you care?
I suspect that for most couples it would be the latter and not the former every time. So drop the all the romance bullshit you’ve been brain washed with. You don’t need to be clever or spend a lot of money on trinkets. Just pay attention to what your partner really needs, make a mental list, and then take care of one of them. At worst you’ll get something practical done. At best your gesture will be remembered fondly for many years.
File Under: Most Advice About Romance is Bullshit – Romance Tips – Keeping Romance in a Long term Relationship – Marriage and Romance