Romance vs Real Love

So a few things have got me thinking about romance and relationships lately. A few nights ago I was reading The Antelope in the Living Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life by Melanie Shankle. She’s a hilarious writer and I love her. She has a chapter talking about Old Love vs New Love and it’s funny because it’s true. Then I started listening to the Stories We’d Tell in Bars Podcast with Jen Lancaster and Gina B. Jen Lancaster is another of my favorite authors for her snarky memoirs. Gina B started off the podcast talking about fairytales and why they are all bullshit. I would agree. She states that the moral of a fairytale is that a guy needs to rescue you. And don’t even get me started about how fairytales portray the stepmoms! Thanks a lot Disney! (Sidenote: did you know that fairytales have been around for thousands of years and most are actually violent? Disney made them all kid friendly.) Add to that the whole  Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon. Yes, I read the books and I was irritated as hell the whole time. Being married to a billionaire would probably have a lot of perks but being married to a billionaire control freak would make me crazy. I could not handle being told what to wear, what to eat, and how to act. No one should deal with that. It makes me sick every time I hear a girl say, ” I want a guy just like Christian Grey. ” What? You want a guy who controls everything about you. Do they realize that’s basically abuse?

Before I go off in a tangent (and believe me I will!) I better get back to the point. Romance isn’t all hearts and flowers and romantic dates. I like a good romantic comedy or a Hallmark Christmas movie as much as any girl. With all the negative stuff going on in the world, it’s nice to see something happy. And yes, I know all the Hallmark movies have the same ending. The girl and the guy get together and save Christmas. I get it. It’s cheesy and happy, but hey, it’s Christmas!  The point is, I know these situations aren’t real life.  I feel like people are constantly disappointed that real relationships are not what you see on Instagram. And guess what? Those relationships aren’t perfect either! The expectations for relationships and romance have gotten way out of hand. The “promposals” that high school kids do are more elaborate than the actual marriage proposal I received.  And EVERYTHING gets posted on social media. Some couples document their entire relationship and post lovey stuff to each other constantly. Someone recently asked me about my husband because I don’t post about him a lot. (I did post on his 40th bday and I’ve posted when he ran a marathon, but that’s about it!) I just feel like if I love and appreciate him ( and I do!) I’ll just tell HIM or do something nice for him. Even if I did post on social media, he would think I was nuts and wouldn’t care about it.


Not too long ago a friend asked me what the most romantic thing my husband has ever done for me. I guess in a traditional sense, the most romantic thing is probably when he sent me flowers the day I moved in with him. The card just said, ” See ya when you get home.” That was pretty cool ( Men, feel free to steal that one!). He’s done nice things since, but that one always sticks out. After being in a relationship for awhile, the things I found romantic in the beginning aren’t the things I find romantic now. Now, our version of romance is doing something the other person might not want to do. For example, during the snowstorm last Sunday, my husband took the dog out so I wouldn’t get cold. Or last Friday, he had the afternoon off work and did some laundry and straightened up the kitchen before I got home. I appreciate those things more than some grand gesture.  And sometimes spending time can mean doing something you really don’t want to do. My husband loves golf so a few times every summer, I go with him to make him happy. I used to go horseback riding a lot and once in awhile, he would come hang out with me to make me happy.  Have you ever read the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman? It’s pretty cool. The book talks about the different ways people show love and the ways people would like to receive love. I can’t remember all 5 languages but I do know that showing your spouse love the way they prefer to receive love is pretty effective. I also would like to propose a rewrite that includes a 6th love language called Food. I spend most of my day thinking about food and my husband knows that making me food or stopping to get some food makes me really happy. One of our favorite things to do isn’t traditionally romantic at all. We like to go to Sioux Falls, go to Sams, and go out to eat. For me, that’s a pretty great day!

I guess what I’m saying is, love and romance isn’t being swept off your feet 24/7. Real/old love is about living an actual life with someone- including house chores, budgets, and deciding what to eat for supper. Let’s face it, sometimes that’s the biggest dilemma in a marriage! We’ve solved that by making a menu plan for the week (and then usually going to Sam’s to get groceries!) Lasting relationships might mean sitting on opposite ends of the couch instead of being snuggled up together. Or it might mean making supper for your spouse even though cooking is the last thing you feel like doing.  Or even taking care of your spouse after they’ve had surgery as my husband has done several times. He’s gotten pretty good at it! Old love usually includes house projects, or in our case lately, trying to sell our house. And in some ways, marriage is like a house project. It’s not exactly fancy and it generally takes more work than you first assumed. And after a rough patch  or your project has passed, you don’t think about the tears and the frustration, you’re just happy that you’ve made it through. ( Actually in home improvement projects, I vividly remember the tears and frustration. I’m not exactly Joanna Gaines.)

As I write this, my husband is sitting on the opposite end of the couch (Deuce is laying between us)  and we’re watching The Office. We’re in for another snowstorm this weekend so we’re ready for another day of movies and hanging out. I guess that’s how you know you’re married to the right person- you’re actually looking forward to being snowed in with that person to keep you company.



  1. So nice to read Kari. I’m glad you love my brother and I’m glad he loves you 😉 Evan and I are watching The Office too!


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