I’m often intrigued by the notion of “romance”. What is it, exactly? Clearly it’s incredibly subjective, just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder (in most cases), but over the centuries, cultures have often had a broad notion of what is considered romantic for the time period.
In Victorian times, for instance, romance was spoken in the language of flowers. And while giving flowers to a beloved is still trendy today, what each flower means has pretty much been swept aside.
Before that, it was incredibly sensual for a man to touch a woman’s skin…anywhere! Recall that part in the most recent Pride & Prejudice movie, when Darcy helps Elizabeth into a carriage after her sister is ill and finally going home? Elizabeth wasn’t wearing gloves (because she was rarely proper) and their skin actually *touched*! They show a close-up of Darcy’s hand afterwards, and he sort of stretches out his fingers slightly. That’s how fantastically sexy it was to just touch skin on the hands back in the day. How romantic…
Etiquette and romance are often tied together, which is true even today. There’s a certain way to respond to a text message or an email which conveys flirtatiousness or friendship only. And there’s a game to be played by every actor in the romantic sphere, even after a relationship is long established.
Romance in marriage, for instance, does not have to die at all, as long as the partners are willing and communicative about keeping it alive. I find romance books to be interesting in that most close the final scene with a first kiss, or a passionate embrace, a promise of marriage, or a wedding. In a series, the newly married characters are typically scenery. There for bouncing dialogue off, but we never really get to see inside their marriages. Clearly, most of those marriages are painted as perfect and happy, as if all the issues leading to their union were swept away by the bliss of finding love.
But anyone who knows anything about romance and real life knows that such perfect marriages are next to impossible. People are different. It takes work to be married. There are character flaws in all of us. So…let’s start to play with the notion of romance within relationships. What does it take to keep that romance alive? What *is* romance in the deepest, longest sense? I dare us all to try and find it, describe it, and bask in it when we find it.