It's almost as if women are programmed to want romance in a relationship. I used to read those articles around Valentine's Day in women's magazines that asked the question, "What is the most romantic thing he has done for you?" And inevitably, I ended up sighing in envy at the stories of men who had gone to great lengths to be romantic, from surprise engagements at sporting events to cute romantic notes left in a woman's lunch (that he had prepared, of course.)
My husband is not a romantic guy in the traditional sense. In the 10 years we have known each other, he has bought me flowers maybe twice. Chocolate, yes, but wrapped in a plastic wrapper bearing the name "Snickers" on the front. But I'm not complaining. It took a while to get over the "fairy-tale" complex that I expected from marriage. Once you get into the everyday life of being married, or having a family, romance sometimes gets lost in the shuffle somewhere between cleaning the kitchen floor, paying the bills and running the kids to soccer practice. That's not to say it doesn't exist - you just need to look a little deeper.
How do you find romance with your partner when romance is not high on his list of personality traits? It's likely there, but it just might take a bit of work to find it.
Know what you're looking for. Appreciate his gestures for what they are. So it's not cycling through Paris on a bicycle built for two (most non-romantics wouldn't be caught dead anyway.) But the traditional kiss on the way out the door says "I love you" just as much. Maybe his way of showing you he cares is by parking his car on the street at night so you can get out first in the morning. That's romantic too.
Redefine romance. Do you expect the surprise flowers, a seranade, and the whole nine yards? Time to redefine, girlfriend. Yes, you deserve it, but when you figure out how your partner shows his romantic side, (see above), you'll realize you are already on the receiving end of little romantic gestures - they just don't always come in chocolate form.
Be romantic yourself. Plan a romantic night and invite him to it. Sometimes women get so caught up in expecting roses and romantic treatment that they forget they are capable of it themselves. Let him see your kind of romance in action.
Meet him on his level. Men relate to sexual advances, women relate to romantic advances. Make your move, and see what his reaction is. You might find he'll be more receptive to your romantic ideas when he knows what else is up your sleeve. Besides, a romantic walk on the beach can always lead to something more, too.
Tell him what you find romantic. Just say it outright. Coyness and suggestiveness may not serve you well with a non-romantic. Make it clear what you like, and there will be no room for confusion. Some men don't do romantic things because they think their idea will fail or you won't like it. Let him know what you like, and he'll feel safe enough to do it.
My husband has gotten much more romantic over the years since we met. Or maybe now I just know what his ways of being romantic are. I still like a big deal made out of holidays, or my birthday (I love that stuff, that's just me,) but I also appreciate our late-night games of Scrabble. There may be candlelight; there just won't be a violinist standing by while I get a double word score.
Rebecca Vaughan is a freelance writer in Vancouver, British Columbia, and is happily married to a "semi-romantic" husband. Their seventh anniversary on May 1st this year was spent at home with take-out, a few drinks, and a game of Scrabble after the kids were in bed. And it was a great time. Rebecca can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.