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My Husband Isn’t Romantic, And I’m Finally OK with That

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It took me some time to really understand that he wasn’t the “grand gesture” type of guy.

When it comes to romance, some men are the most thoughtful, sweep-you-off-your-feet kind of guys. They remember every milestone, mark it with sweet notes, flowers, presents, or a spur-of-the-moment romantic evening. It’s what many women dream of having: a man who shows love in the most obvious ways, just like in the movies.

Then there are some guys who just aren’t the mushy type. They don’t leave little notes or wake their significant others with breakfast in bed. They don’t bring home flowers, and you know that on the night before your birthday, they’re rushing out to find a last-minute gift because buying things for special occasions is never at the forefront of their minds. This doesn’t mean that these men aren’t in love or that they’re incapable of showing their love. Men like these show their love in other ways — ways they feel are obvious, though perhaps not perceived that way.

After marrying the father of my child, it took me some time to really understand that he wasn’t the “grand gesture” type of guy. I’d accepted it readily enough while we were dating, but as the days as a mother and housewife dragged on, I began to crave a different kind of acknowledgement of his love. However, I’ve come to realize that my former views on romance shouldn’t manifest in my wanting to change the man he’s always been. There’s nothing less romantic than forcing a guy to show his affection in a way that isn’t natural to him.

My husband is a good man. He shows his love for me in a variety of ways that I’ve often taken for granted. Romance comes in many forms, and the way my husband shows his love and devotion are not in flowers, jewelry and candy. He shows it in a different currency.

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Our family Christmas card photo.

My first husband was a romantic guy in the conventional way. He was a writer, and with that came many notes with words like “always,” “forever,” and “all I want is you.” He’d leave an adorable stuffed animal out on the kitchen table for when I got home from work to show he was thinking of me. He climbed to the top of a nature reserve where we’d hiked on our first date to ask me to marry him over a misting, Connecticut town.

Yes, this guy took his romance cues from the movies, but real romance isn’t typically like the movies. All his inspired words of love and devotion, flowers, and small gifts meant nothing when it came down to dealing with real life. This guy, who had me convinced he’d adore me forever, left without warning the moment things weren’t going the way he’d dreamed they would. There was no meaningful conversation filled with flowery phrases. There was a short “I don’t want to be married” and the unceremonious sound of footsteps on the porch as he left, divorce papers left in the handle of my screen door.

How’s that for romance?

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At first, I wasn’t bothered by the lack of notes and tokens of affection with my second husband. The beginning of our relationship was based on adventure, not seduction. Then we had our daughter. I left my job to become a stay-at-home mother and homemaker, which was a very different sort of life than the one I was used to. The romantic excitement of late nights, parties, dancing in the living room until morning — it all ended and was replaced by a different kind of late-night exhaustion. I cleaned, cooked, mothered, pumped breast milk, and began to feel a lack of excitement and romance in my relationship. I started to feel like I was just that woman in a bathrobe my husband came home to. I didn’t feel sexy or loved; I just felt like a frumpy, tired housewife.

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This wasn’t his fault. It took me a while to realize that what used to define our love while we were childless changes once we become parents. He never complained about the lack of back massages he used to get from me or the less frequent displays of affection. Somehow, he knew better than I did that the way we loved would change.

On social media, I’d see photos of jewelry and flowers my friends were gifted and felt just plain sad. I’d hint toward my husband that I needed something more, and while he’d make a slight effort to leave a sweet note once in a blue moon, there wasn’t any real desire to change his style. It isn’t who he is.

And I didn’t need something more. I needed to understand that he was already giving me everything.

My father was the same way. I recall my dad buying my mom cooking pans for Mother’s Day, and wondering what the heck he was thinking. From his point of view, he was giving my mother something she wanted that would last, and to him meant more than a bouquet to be tossed in the trash a week later.

Men like my father and my husband aren’t flowers-and-candy kind of guys. They don’t sit around dreaming of what will sweep us off our feet. What I know is that they show their love in different ways that may not be recognized as romantic. For them love is more simple. For my husband, it’s going to work every day, giving his all without fail because he loves our family. It’s telling me he loves me before going to bed every night, and making the bed in the morning when I know he could care less about wrinkled sheets. It’s being endlessly supportive of whatever new venture I want to attempt, bringing me soup and Tylenol when I’m sick, and holding me when I’m sad. It’s doing everything possible to make our daughter smile, taking advantage of every spare moment we have as a family to make cherished memories, and shamelessly posing in matching Christmas pajamas for the family photo. It’s including me in every decision he makes, even when the decision affects him more. I know he’s in this marriage for the long haul, and that he will do whatever possible to keep our family strong.

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While little tokens, notes, and romantic gestures can warm many a woman’s heart, they aren’t necessarily indicative of true romantic love. It’s nice stuff, but in the end it’s just stuff. Life isn’t what you see in the movies or even on friend’s Facebook pages. The true gifts are in the everyday life examples of love and devotion. They may fall under the radar, not as obvious as a card or a teddy bear, but they’re there if you’re willing to step back and notice them.

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