This post appeared on Jacquie Biggar’s website last year. I thought you might like to read again on this day of love and romance….
Not everyone celebrates Valentine’s Day and I believe that romance is something that infuses every day of a relationship, but if receiving a card, or some roses, reminds someone of how much they are loved, then this is a good day.
My thanks to Jacquie for inviting me to share my views on romance. It is one of the elements of our lives which is universal, and much sort after. People often ask what the secret to a happy relationship is… darned if I know. All I can offer you is some of the little things I have come to appreciate over the last 50 odd years of dating and relationships. Make that 55 as I had a crush on Peter Birch at primary school age ten which resulted in my first broken heart!
Because many of you who are reading this are writers, I thought you might be interested in a few statistics on the billion-dollar-a-year Romance book industry via Romance Writers
- The annual total sales of romance novels per year is in excess of a billion dollars.
- Romance novel share of the U.S. fiction market is 34%.
- 82% of romance readers are women.
- Average age is 35-39.
What interested me about these statistics is that romance is a hot ticket item. It is also evident that romantic stories are very much sought after by women, but clearly not as high on the list for men. Something that those who feel men are sometimes not as romantic as they might be, would find interesting!
Another statistic is that the average age of those seeking out romance stories is between the ages of 35-39… which begs the question… Do women in their 40s, 50s, 60s give up on romance, or they are simply not catered for by the romance writers?
Like most young girls of my generation, I was infused with the myths surrounding love and romance at an early age. Between fairy tales and my mother’s desire to make the goal of romance clear cut in my mind, I surmised that at some point a Prince Charming, on a white horse, would sweep into my life, whisk me off my feet, and we would ride off into a future of bliss, children and Happy Ever After.
I was encouraged to take the available wisdom to heart, and with hopes and dreams of my own, embarked on my own dating adventures. The trouble with ingrained expectations is that they are not always as revered by others, particularly the opposite sex.
However, after some false starts, at the age of 20, a more mature Prince Charming of 26 did arrive, in uniform and driving a classic American sports car. It seemed that expectations had been met and exceeded, and it was crowned with a spectacular wedding with matriarchal approval on both sides. We drove off into the sunset with clanging tin cans behind the steed… which proved to be tolling bells of doom!
Trouble is what you see is not always what you get! And when compounded with differing expectations of what a relationship is supposed to be, and a lack of commitment of one of the participants, things tend to fall apart. After four years, some interesting life lessons, and an expensive legal intervention which took three years, I finally managed to extricate myself with a vow to never marry again.
Then wouldn’t you know it, six months later, into my life walked a softly-spoken, unassuming guy who took me out on a date and asked me to marry him before the night was over. Five weeks later, without any ceremony, and with just our parents in attendance, we exchanged rings and our own vows.
The last 39 years have taught me that romance is not one-size fits all, is unique to two people who love each other, and is not always about red roses and chocolates.
Some of the elements that spell romance for me.
As Jeremy Taylor quoted ‘Love is Friendship set on Fire’. Of course there is that initial, and amazing firework display of hormonally induced physical attraction, which then evolves over the years into a familiarity that can still be breathtaking. However, without the essential elements of like-mindedness, shared moral code, sense of humour, and appreciation of another’s unique personality, the fire of romance slowly dies down to embers.
An analogy I often use for romance between two people, is that it is like an extended ballroom dance that flows and whirls with two partners in perfect sync. Always staying within the limits of the dance floor, allowing other styles come into play, with fiery tangos and playful sambas as the tempo of the music changes. Even when there is a momentary loss of connection, there is a coming together again, and the dance always finishes in a firm embrace.
Whilst there may be the occasional extravagant gesture when a special event warrants it, mostly it is the small things that keep romance alive and flourishing.
Red roses are wonderful, and we all love to receive a bouquet on Valentine’s Day or an anniversary. But it is the odd flower brought in from the garden and laid on a breakfast tray, a small tree planted in the garden that blossoms every spring, or the paper flower, misshapen and oddly coloured that appears by a bedside, that really help to keep romance alive.
Romance is waking up on every birthday to find cards hand-made from images of sea, sunflowers, cats and dogs, golden sunsets with handwritten verses inside that come from the heart. It is also those few minutes on your wedding anniversary when you sit silently, holding hands and remembering that special day and the people who are no longer there to share the memories with you.
True romance flourishes when you are unwell and scared and a strong hand holds yours and a voice close to your ear, tells you that it will be alright, that you are safe. It is when you suffer a loss and cry together and heal together. It is when you walk through the door and someone says, ‘hi love, how was your day?’
Romance is when the last words before you go to sleep are ‘I love you’
Romance does exist after 39 years old, whatever the statistics might say.
Romance and love go hand in hand, and as I watch very old people together, you can tell the ones who still adore and respect each other. It is easy to still see that spark and twinkle in the eyes, the small touches of a hand or brush of lint from a shoulder. That unity has been welded from years of life, laughter, sadness, joy, disappointment, excitement and love. Thousands of cups of tea, breakfasts in bed, dances in the kitchen, date nights, holding hands in the movies and vigils by a sickbed, have gone into the rich tapestry that is romance. There might be a faded red rose pressed between the pages of a diary, or a diamond ring that comes out on special occasions, but it is these small daily gestures that will have kept the romance alive and will continue to do so long after one or both of them dies.
Romance is also about the things we don’t do in a relationship.
We don’t belittle someone we love in public and then say ‘But you know I love you’.
We don’t bully them and then say we are doing it ‘Because you know I love you.’
We don’t marry who we believe is Prince Charming or the fairy princess, and then set about changing them by saying ‘You know it is because I love you.’
We don’t take the actions of those we love for granted, and saying ‘thank you’ for a meal, a wardrobe full of clean clothes or for being a great mum or dad, goes a long way to keep romance alive.
Romance is not about making someone happy or expecting them to make you happy. Your happiness is your responsibility and choice. Putting the onus for your happiness on someone else is a very quick way to lose them.
I will leave you with one of my favourite poems on romance from Elizabeth Barrett Browning courtesy of The Poem Hunter
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
About Tales from the Irish Garden
The queen of Magia and her court have fled their sun filled Spanish homeland and the palace beneath the magnolia tree.
Arriving on the backs of geese and swans, they seek sanctuary in the magic garden of The Storyteller who welcomes them to the Emerald Island, a place where rain is almost a daily feature. Grateful for their safe haven and the generosity of their host, the queen and her courtiers embrace their new surroundings with delight.
As the seasons change throughout the year, they come into contact with many of the human and animal inhabitants of the garden and the surrounding forest, all of whom have a story to tell. This is a magical fairy story infused with fantasy and romance, as well as opportunities for mischief in the company of goblins, witches and Lerpersians. Suitable for ages 10 to 100 years old…..
All my books in Ebook are available: Amazon UK
And Amazon US: Amazon US
You can read more reviews and follow me on Goodreads: Goodreads
Thank you for dropping in today and even if you don’t celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, what is the most romantic gesture you have ever received?