I still get the occasional flowers and chocolate and an evening out from time to time, but this is not really what I consider the most romantic part of marriage. I believe the most romantic part of marriage is found in the day in and day out of ordinary life. (Suzanne Temple)
We have survived an advertising onslaught in preparation for St. Valentine’s Day. We have been told that true romance consists in material giving: a fancy dinner here, a bouquet of flowers there, and yes, the occasional lacy undergarment.
And your average “romantic” comedy? Well, admit it. At their best they are slightly corny and highly improbable—torturous for your husband to sit through! At their very worst, however, they are profane and an outright attack on the sacrament of marriage.
Are we ready to take this notion of “romance” to a much deeper and (one might add) more sanctified level?
Welcome to The Loveliness of Romance!
I do not think that the way in which these romantic posts were woven together would matter; the resulting tapestry would still be truly lovely. I was inspired, though, by Lorri’s reference to her husband’s “love language: acts of service.”
She was referring, of course, to Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages. And there you have it! My unifying theme.
Before we proceed into the Fair, my friends, will you indulge your hostess in the sharing of a quick romantic story? I know that your manners are impeccable. You are smiling kindly. You don’t mind.
My parents just spent several days with us. Having recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary, they are for me a truly beautiful example of the longevity of love! But is there romance? I thought I’d check. On the last day of their visit we were lingering at the breakfast table. I had whipped up a batch of strawberry smoothies and served my parents one of their own—yes, one—in a single glass with two straws for cozy sipping, and with a flirty little strawberry on the rim. Well, my mother’s cheeks flushed pink with pleasure. And my father, for all his laughter, looked like a boy of 18 once more.
Romance is alive and well and attainable, at the age of 80 as well as 40!
Let’s go to the Fair.
And I love you. (Lionel Ritchie)
According to Gary Chapman, “verbal appreciation speaks powerfully to persons whose primary Love Language is ‘Words of Affirmation.’ Simple statements, such as, ‘You look great in that suit,’ or ‘You must be the best baker in the world! I love your oatmeal cookies,’ are sometimes all a person needs to hear to feel loved.
Well. Elizabeth’s I LOVE You Tree is a touching example of how a woman might use words of affirmation to bless her husband (and the readers of her blog along the way). As Jane said in the comments, it’s not just the tree that is beautiful; it’s Elizabeth’s attitude! We stand to learn much about humble submission and true femininity from this post.
And Jane! Oh, sweet Jane. To know her is to love her, truly. Her words of wisdom to her future daughter are just that: full of wisdom and grace and the experience of one very humble, holy mother. (And she’s one heck of a writer, to boot.)
It is impossible for our dear Dawn to not be cheerful and cute in all that she does. Her romantic acrostic is as sweet and fun and clever as any Hallmark card, but if you read between the lines you will see the depth of this couple’s love and the effort that they put into it.
I do not think there could be a more affirming set of words than this: “When I’m looking for a wife, I’m not looking for someone I can live with. I’m looking for someone I can’t live without. And I think I found her.” The rest of the story, as it is currently unfolding in all its beauty, may be found at the home of our ever-lovely, ever-bubbly friend and fellow homeschooler, Nutmeg.
How often do we long for the more nonverbal of spouses to just communicate a bit more often? My own husband writes for a living, but when it comes to the inscription on his cards to me, I often just get a “love, John.” Pookie! Your wife was an English major! Give this gal some prose! Well, Sarah at Just another Day of Catholic Pondering says that a set of bath crayons “has changed everything” at her house. I’m thinking I may have to follow suit!
“Quality time,” says Gary Chapman, “is more than mere proximity. It’s about focusing all your energy on your mate. Many mates feel most loved when they spend physical time together, doing activities that they love to do. Spending time together will bring a couple closer, and, in the years to come, will fill up a memory bank that you can reminisce about in the future.”
Elena at My Domestic Church lived with her grandparents growing up and says that it gave her “ a unique opportunity to see a marriage of love first hand. They would comfort and support each other when they suffered the loss of a loved one. They would tease each other. A couple of times I even caught Grandma sitting on Grandpa’s lap and they would laugh about it.” Talk about making a lasting, loving impression upon a little girl!
Genevieve’s post “Love” may be simply titled, but its theme is hardly simple! There is much to ponder in her reflections on her own wedding day and in her beautiful description of a 25th wedding anniversary party she recently attended: “Their children showed us a video they made for their parents. I admit that instead of watching the video, I am watching the couple. And I see it. A flicker here and there. A glimpse of why this couple was meant to be. And how they have survived all these years in a world that said love was only meant to last during the honeymoon.”
Love. Such a little word, that. And yet, so brimming with significance.
The wonderful My Mr. Knightley was written by our favorite expatriate and much-beloved Diane. In it she paints a picture of a man that is both dashing and down-to-earth, her husband. What a sweet, significant series of vignettes. She is as blessed in him as I know he is blessed in her.
Matilda’s readers are always in for the most delightful mix of wit and wisdom. She never lets us down. In her contribution to the Loveliness of Romance Fair, she considers one of the definitions of the word romance: a feeling of mystery, excitement and remoteness from everyday life. “The only mystery in my day,” she says, “Is whether or not that smell is coming from the steamed broccoli or the toddler on my hip. Remoteness from everyday life? Ha!” She pauses, and then continues. “But then I saw the word…wonder.” The post that she wrote as a result of her musing is truly wonderful.
The third love language, receiving gifts, corresponds not only to those purchased gifts but more importantly, to sacrificial ones. “Some mates respond well to visual symbols of love. If you speak this love language, you are more likely to treasure any gift as an expression of love and devotion. The gift of self is an important symbol of love. Sometimes all your mate desires is for someone to be there for them, going through the same trials and experiencing the same things. Your body can become a very powerful physical symbol of love.”
I think that this particular love language can be tricky. Too many gifts have the potential to turn the recipient into one spoiled wee lassie. I loved Kristen’s approach to romance. No surprise, there! If you’ve been reading Kristen’s blog since she began it two short months ago, you’ll agree. She is easy to love! In her post, “The Sweetness of Romance,” she refers to romance and all the little extras in one’s relationship as the “icing” on the nourishing cake of every day life. What a beautiful analogy.
Jen is considering a vocation to the religious life and is “learning at the feet of St. Therese.” Her post, “My Vocation is LOVE,” is about the greatest gift of all: the gift of self. Her greatest goal is “to learn how to put myself last, and to put the needs and wants of others first.” These are words not only for us but for our children to consider.
In Cindy’s “Valentine’s Day Romance,” she says that she is blessed in that “her husband is my Valentine every day.” When you read of all his many beautiful and selfless gifts, you will agree.
Do you want real romance? Read Jennifer’s “The Most Romantic Year.” She is always sweet and truthful, which is one of the many reasons why I love her. And from the sounds of this post, her husband is every bit as lovable as she.
(St. Josemaria Escriva)
“Just as Jesus demonstrated when he washed the feet of his disciples, doing humble chores can be a very powerful expression of love and devotion to your mate. Acts of service require both mates to humble themselves into doing some chores and services that aren’t usually expected from their gender. However, these little sacrifices will mean the world to your mate, and will ensure a happy relationship.”
And now we return to Lorri, who has been waiting so patiently for me to provide her link! Here is the story detailing her husband’s beautiful and caring act of service: installing her pantry Taj Mahal. (Tell him he’s hired!)
Are you ready for another awesome post? In Heather’s “The Loveliness of Romance: Now That’s Romantic!” she says that “if my life is a movie then it certainly isn’t a romantic comedy…but praise God it’s not a tragedy either. Ha! How many of us can relate to that? And yet, she has known her share of sorrow in that they lost a baby at 36 ½ weeks’ gestation. With those words, Heather became a true friend of the heart to many. Of that I’m certain. What is truly beautiful is that her love for her husband (and vice versa) only grew stronger throughout this trial.
To visit Suzanne at her blog is to go for coffee with your smart and funny friend. You always come away from the visit with a smile and a sense of encouragement! Her “The End of Love” is as wise and as edifying as it gets, and her philosophy of romance goes way beyond the advertising circulars: “Small considerations, kind words, gentle encouragement, prayers offered, and sacrifices made– both given and received– can, and do, ‘transform the dust of everyday life into a golden haze.’”
According to Gary Chapman (and probably most of our husbands), “many mates feel the most loved when they receive physical contact from their partner. They can be big acts, such as back massages or lovemaking, or little acts such as touches on the cheek or a hand on the shoulder. It’s important to learn how your mate responds to touch. That is how you will make the most of this love language.”
Jill’s post “Poor Paul” is just a really great story: the kind that you would share over drinks on a couples’ night out with friends. Oh, to hear her husband’s side of it! I placed it in the category of “physical touch” because of the way that Paul needed to get in Jill’s face to get her attention. Man, she made him work for it!
The description of the older couple in Mary Ellen’s beautifully written post, “True Romance,” will give you a lump in your throat. I agree with Mary Ellen: what a great and enduring love story.
Melissa has long been one of the sweetest reasons I’ve had to visit New Mexico. I now see that she’s also one of the spiciest! What a photo! And what an awesome story. She hits the nail on the head when she says that the love between a man and his wife is eternal.
In her post “Amazing Grace,” Cheryl admits that she can be very self-centered. “It’s easy for me to show my love in ways I enjoy, (or don’t really mind) such as helping Bobby to entertain guests, doing his laundry, cleaning the house, taking care of our children or listening to him talk about his work. But sometimes it’s not easy for me to do what he enjoys.” She is so honest and humble in her self-appraisal! I loved this post and could so relate to it, because the physical gift of self is often the hardest.
Still, there is no greater love and no love more powerful. As Scott Hahn says, “the one-flesh union of persons in the act of marriage is so powerful that 9 months later you may have to name it.” Now that’s romance!
We are nearing the end, my friend. My own contribution to the Fair is short and sweet (I hope!). I know that you’ll forgive me; as your hostess, I’ve been so busy checking coats and pouring drinking that I haven’t had a lot of free time! In any case, I love the metaphor of a slow dance for one’s marriage. Often, you and your spouse just need to take a break from all the busy-ness. You need to match your steps and move together. Best of all, you need to cuddle.
It has been my pleasure to host such a lovely Loveliness Fair. I knew that these posts would be inspiring and I am certain you will agree. Let us linger with this inspiration, though, long past the fourteenth day of this month. Let us revel—yes, revel—in the intoxicating union that is marriage. We stand before the mirror and what we see is not just a man and his wife. We see a reflection of the love between Christ and His Church.
I would recommend, given our feminine need for words of affirmation, that you print out a copy of these posts and put them in a binder. What a wonderful witness to the power of love and the many, many ways to be romantic.
And please, as often as you are able, leave a comment to let them know you’ve stopped by. These beautiful gals have worked hard on these lovely posts—and they deserve a warm Internet hug for their effort.
Have a blessed day!