He Woos Me, He Woos Me Not
Woo is Me
Yep, the romance is gone.
Urkle would ask, "Did I do thaaat???"
Dunno. Did I do that? Maybe. I at the very least contributed unwittingly.
I don't want to point fingers. Seems like somewhere along the way between dating, courting, engagement, honeymoon, and life that something went by the wayside. Nobody meant to; it just happened. Like having an affair. Most people don't wake up one morning and declare, I think I'll have an affair today. They just slip in to complacency and heads start turning until they find themselves in a place they didn't expect to be. In the same way, couples don't wake up one morning and declare I'd like to keep having great sex with my partner but I think I'll just leave the romance out. They just slip in to complacency and heads stop turning until they find themselves in a very unsatisfying place where routine is the main event. Oh, they might switch it up a bit, try a little kama sutra action. But it still comes down to hey, what happened to the romance? It's dark in here. Light a candle or something.
Light a candle or something....
Such a small thing, a candle. The candle dates back over 5000 years to Biblical times with the ancient Romans credited as having used the first wicked candles. Candles are lit for ceremony, for intercession, as a memorial, for decoration, dedication, ambiance, ambivalence, to disguise the odor of last night's fish, yellow flag the bathroom, or for no purpose whatsoever other to light one because we like them. Some people make it a habit to keep one lit all the time. There is even a company that makes flameless candles. All the scent without the danger. People have built entire homebased businesses around selling candles. They are mood altering, available in every conceivable scent, size, shape, and color with more accessories to adorn and display them in than a five year-old playing dress-up. My father went through a season of candle making as a hobby back in the seventies. I have fond memories of wandering through the candle shop with him picking out scents, colors, and molds. My mother would paint the frog candles with big mod flowers. Or she would gold leaf them to make them very festive. She flocked the bayberry and evergreen scented pine trees and refused to light them because they were too pretty to burn. Used for both the practical and the provocative, a candle is sacred, and sexy all in the same breath. For us, a lit candle in the bedroom used to be an unspoken hint that somebody was feeling frisky. That same candle might later be placed by me unlit on my nightstand to also indicate that it was not going to be convenient to light it for about 6 days give or take. Either way, it saved a lot of guesswork or hinting around. On our honeymoon, we shopped for hours for the perfect candle with just the perfect scent. Vanilla Sugar Cookie. Warm, savory, sugary. A real mood elevator. Placed around the Jacuzzi to the accompaniment of vanilla sugar body soap. Surrounded by a mound of sweet smelling bubbles and luscious candle light, no hinting required. COME ON IN THE WATER'S JUST FINE!!
The candles in my bedroom are gathering dust, literally. Oh, don't get me wrong, the bedroom still sees its share of action. Maybe not as much as he might want but it's not the dead zone by any long shot. And I know what you're thinking, take some initiative lady! Fair enough. But for the time being, this is one-sided writing, so hear me out. And I do take initiative. I believe in the little things. I cook dishes for him that he loves. I make the bedroom look pretty with fresh sheets and a little linen spray. And for me, romance is the also little things I do to myself like be clean and smooth, lightly scented, moisturized, and callous-free in the feet. I brush my teeth, fix my hair and when practical I wear something pretty.
...only to have to take it off all by myself.
Should I have to ask? Or hint? I don't mean to complain, but a girl likes to be, you know, seduced a little. Remember when you were a teenager, how with every button on your blouse the anticipation grew, on both sides? Something about having the other person do the work made it that much sexier. Like getting a massage. Sure, I can rub my own sore feet or get a neck massaging pillow. I can massage my own scalp. But nothing can replace the feel of a man's hands working out the day's tension, running through my hair along that tight area at the base of my scull. I learned on one of those doctor shows that a massage on any part of your body actually triggers pleasure areas in the brain flooding your bloodstream with happy endorphins. Yeah, natural mood enhancers. And without chocolate! And if your hands should wander, well, all the better. A win-win. Asking for a massage now I might as well be asking to have the ceiling repainted. A roll of the eyes, angst, and the mood just got killed for me. Because if I have to ask for it, well...why bother. I'm not going to beg.
When did romance become a chore? I blame complacency. To quote dictionary.com complacency is defined as: a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation, condition, etc.
Complacency is a sneaky little devil. The spirit of complacency enters in to a relationship with no warning or fanfare. It looks for an opening and speaks to a partner in ways that suggest romance is no longer required or necessary in order to achieve the end desired result. It says "things are fine just the way they are so why fix it if it ain't broken." It says "just get naked, she'll get the hint, give her a few extra kisses and then just get busy. As long as you finish what you started she'll be just fine." It accuses as well whispering that you never get a massage from her, or enough attention so why does she deserve any from you? Or visa versa, because I don't want to gender bash. Women, we're guilty of this too. I am convinced, to the core of my being, that complacency's sole purpose is to mess up a good relationship. The moment a partner stops the act of wooing, is the moment a relationship begins to wither. Once complacency sets up housekeeping, you'll be hard pressed to kick out like an unmarried, unemployed 30 year old living in your basement. Folks, let's be honest, most of us are lazy when it comes to investing effort in marriage. Not all of us, so don't go throwing anything at me if you are a committed romantic. We just stop trying. We blame the kids, we blame work, we blame overflowing laundry and dishes, a lack of money, time, energy, sagging bodies, sagging paychecks, yadda yadda yadda.
We blame the other person.
Do you remember what it felt like when you really fell in love? I watched my son and his beautiful girl get married a few weeks ago. Such a simple ceremony on a beach. Everyone had to travel a huge distance to attend, but it was worth it. A budget wedding by most standards but rich in romance. Overflowing in fact with sticky, sweet, wonderful romance. I know, young love. But it was sexy if I can say that about my kids. Love is a sexy thing. The tie that binds. Such effort was put in to each little thing she did for him and he did for her that day. He planned for months exactly how he would propose to her so as to not rob her of the perfect engagement moment. Under a canopy of bamboo and flowing white at twilight on the beach they said their vows then in place of the unity candle, poured sand collected in vials from their respective states of residence into a single tall, slender glass, hers from Texas and his from Hawaii where he was stationed when they first fell in love. As they poured the sand together swirling and combining into one beautiful pattern, their lives entwining equally with every grain, I marveled at the divine love they shared that had endured three years of long-distance hardship and countless roadblocks while he served in the Marine Corp. I remembered hearing about all the romantic things he did for her while he was away so she would know she was always close to his heart. Watching my son, the sweet geek girls loved to be friends with but never date, lavish himself on this amazing woman that chose him as her husband, my single prayer for them was Lord let them savor today and let it last a lifetime. May they never forget how they feel today or stop marveling at how You brought them together for this moment.
Why do we allow complacency to invite itself in to our lives? To invade the divinity of our marriage. Why do we forget that it was the little things that drew us together in the first place? Our partners deserve our very best effort. If flowers are expensive, then go pick some by the side of the road. If dinner and a movie is more than your budget allows then put the kids to bed and have a picnic in front of the TV, move the furniture and slow dance to the radio. If lingerie doesn't fit your shape or style, then put on one of his big tee shirts or oxfords with nothing underneath and meet him at the door after work. Go to the dollar store, buy some candles, lots of them, and light a path to your bedroom. Most of all, let your words be romantic. We forget that simple words of affirmation, the little words that say I appreciate you and I find you wildly amazing are the most romantic part of every day. Yes, we love each other and like to hear it. But it's more than just I love you. She needs and desperately desires to hear, from your own lips that she is the most amazing woman you have ever known; to hear as you kiss her soft, round belly and stretch-marked breasts that bore and painfully nursed three beautiful children for you and still bears the scars, that she is beautiful beyond compare. He needs to hear that his touch takes you to the moon, that all the overtime he puts in to pay off your son's wedding means more than you can ever express. That he still makes your heart yearn for him. That he is a good man, even when he struggles to be one.
Complacency is an idol that robs of us of our focused attention on the other person and eventually the ability to speak words of affirmation because we assume that our partners already know how we feel and words are no longer necessary; assume with smug satisfaction that it is an existing condition. Affirmation, wooing with words, like respect isn't something you have to earn. It's given freely, without condition, a fruit of the spirit of love. Wooing is at the heart of that spirit, a selfless act of affirming the place another holds in your heart, worthy of the effort to keep her there. A spirit that can overcome complacency's stronghold in our lives and put romance back where it belongs, at the beginning, middle, and end of every day. A powerful thing. A light of hope in an otherwise very dark world.
Now go light some candles.