I love reading a good romance – one that brings two people together and opens their eyes to what their life has been missing, that can only be made better by accepting the other person for both their strengths and their flaws.
When I finish that story, I often put the book down, rest my hand on it and sigh in contentment. A really good story I’ll tuck on my keeper shelf and pull out from time to time. Nora Robert’s Chesapeake series, especially Ethan’s story, Rising Tide, does that for me. JR Ward’s Lover Eternal (Rhage & Mary’s story) is another frequent re-read.
It’s quite common for non-romance readers to disparage the genre, to say that romance writers are setting up girls–women–with unrealistic expectations of love. I don’t think love is unrealistic. It’s just not easy.
There are going to be days when you aren’t at your best, or he isn’t. When you snark at each other for inconsequential things like chewing their cereal too loudly or turning to the one hundred and sixtieth viewing of an episode of a show you just can’t stand. For refusing to look at a map or take the GPS and getting you lost when all you wanted to do was just get home and crash. Or having the smoke alarm go off every single time they
burn cook dinner. Or the $20 you thought you had tucked away for a special occasion got spent on her favorite sewing project instead.
True love manages to get past those times. True love comes to bed and wakes up beside you the next day and gives you a clean slate to begin falling in love with them all over again.
True love isn’t just in the big sexy bedroom scenes. It’s in the loving touches. It’s being teased by your friends because you still hold hands when you walk down the street even though you’ve been together for thirty-three years. It’s sitting on the couch giving your partner a foot rub and them returning the favor. It’s when you’re in the kitchen making dinner together and you reach out to stroke their arm, or when you’re passing by in the hallway and you stop for that quick hug. It’s going to sleep with your hand or foot touching them because you just can’t not touch them. It’s being curled up, all sleepy and comfortable beneath the warm blankets on a cold, dark winter morning while your partner stumbles out of bed, dressing in the dark so they don’t disturb you. But before he leaves, he searches out your feet buried beneath the blankets and strokes them one last time. Every. Single. Morning.
It’s them bringing you ginger ale or making that run to the drug store in the middle of the night when you’re sick. It’s watching that horrible 168th episode of that awful sitcom with them because you know that afterwards they’ll let you put in your favorite romantic comedy that they probably can’t stand.
It’s coming home after spending the day in Toronto to find an email from your partner asking “You have had a pap smear, right – and everything came back ok? I do worry about you.”
“I do worry about you.” For me that will always be the definition of true love. The proof that romantic love, enduring love can happen, despite what those romance-genre haters say. After thirty-three years together, thirty-one years of marriage, and two sons, yesterday I got choked up by an email saying “I do worry about you.” Because he does. And he always has. And he always will.
What brought on that email and my subsequent tears? Gizmo Guy had just been talking to his best friend Chunk. GG and Chunk worked for the same company together for almost twenty years. When the firm was bought out by another company, they both found themselves looking for jobs elsewhere and they’ve both been through some rough times. Chunk has just been offered a better job — but one that means he has to go to the States for a couple weeks’ training. He’s turning it down because he doesn’t want to leave his wife even for that long. You see, Chunk’s wife has just been diagnosed with advanced uterine cancer, cancer that’s spread through her lymph nodes. She’s undergoing some sort of test or surgery on Friday, Gizmo Guy isn’t sure what, but Chunk doesn’t want to leave her to face it alone. Chunk and his wife are like us — they’ve been married only a few years less, but they’ll get through this together. Because that’s what love’s all about.
So to all those nay-sayers who sneer at romances and say they’re setting up unrealistic expectations. Meet Gizmo Guy and Chunk. Two fabulous romantic heroes in real life.