Congratulations, you’ve made it down the aisle and can now live happily ever after? Apparently not with latest figures showing 42% of marriages end in divorce. Only having been married myself just shy of 2 years, I do not proclaim to be an expert but I do feel that in some cases people are not willing to work at a marriage, perhaps indicative of our throw-away society.
Of granted legal divorces, statistics suggest unreasonable behaviour is a more common reason for divorce than adultery. Now unreasonable behaviour of course encompasses a diverse range of things but we all know that after a few years, it’s easy to become comfortable and therefore complacent. If either partner feels neglected and or taken for granted, resentment can fester which ultimately may lead to separation. As Carrie says in Sex and the City, you need that ‘sparkle’.
Romance, as a verb is defined in the dictionary as try to gain the love of; court and as a noun, a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love.
To some degree romance has become far less common place in dating with the advent of online dating and apps like tinder, people treat the actual date in the same casual way. Romance is also linked to chivalry which means courtesy to women and has seen a great downturn, in part due to feminism. Men are now frightened to give up their seat for a woman or hold a door open through fear of being accused of sexism.
When we first meet someone special, we are all about making a good first impression and this usually involves plenty of romantic gestures fulfilling the verb definition of the word. Now I’m not talking about the stuff of Romeo and Juliet, nor am I talking spending obscene amounts of money – romance is surely just taking the time to show one another that you care. Sometimes this can be the smallest of things, like when I was ill and my husband spontaneously went down to Costa to get me a latte.
Romance has long been viewed as something a man does for a woman – however in these days of equal opportunity – do men not have a right to expect some romance in return? Do men really appreciate romance though? I bought my husband a watch when we had been dating for 2 years and had it engraved with a quote from Love Letters of Great Men. Does he wear that watch? The answer is very rarely.
Romance of course means something different to each individual but most of my friends agreed that whatever the gesture is from doing the chores to writing a note on a steamed up mirror to buying a thoughtful gift – it is the thought that counts. It’s the fact that your partner has picked up on your feelings and surprised you with something that shows that; romance as a noun.
I recently read a book by Gary Chapman The Five Love Languages which opened my eyes to the fact that romance is not a case of one size fits all. The book talks of the fundamental need to feel loved and suggests we all have a love tank that needs to be kept full, just like a car needs petrol. It goes on to describe five different ways of filling that love tank; affirmation, receiving gifts, acts of service, quality time and physical touch. The book suggests that each of us have a primary language of love and unless our partner speaks in that language, your love tank won’t be filled. To put it simply it may be that your husband thinks by bestowing expensive gifts on you, he is showing how much you mean to him when you might be crying out for quality time with him. Often we will show love in the way that we like to receive it.
I think my language is affirmation and this is probably because it’s the way my parents always showed me love; hence not a day goes by when I don’t tell my husband I love him whereas I would like him to tell me more and compliment me when I have made an effort. He on the other hand I believe has a language of acts of service as this is how he often tries to show love to me; as in how he worked hard to make the bathroom in our new home, the perfect bathroom for me. Now I’m not saying I don’t appreciate these sorts of gestures but affirmation definitely makes me feel more loved.
In conclusion from a quick straw poll of my friends it would appear that romance is a big part of a successful marriage, whatever form that romance may take. We all need to work at keeping the flame of love burning and not take each other for granted. Perhaps have a date night, buy a thoughtful gift or just compliment your other half – we all have that need to feel loved. It is that excitement and mystery that sustains that feeling of love you had for each other when you first met.
I’d love to hear your views on romance in marriage – is Gary Chapman right that we all have a primary love language?