This week: Disillusion With RomanceEdited by: ember_rain
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As of July 20th, I will have been married 23 years. I got married at 18 to my high school sweetheart. We are still happily married and have six beautiful children, four of which have accounts here on WDC.
This newsletter will take a look at what romance has become through the end of 20th century into the 21st Century. We will discuss how to handle the modern romance with an eye to modern issues that often end marriages and relationships while keeping one foot firmly in the realm of "love at first sight". I know its possible. I live it every day. I also know how sometimes love seems like it might not be enough.
I will never forget the day my husband Clanbear and I officially met. I had seen him around town a time or two during the summer. I was the new girl in town and though I noticed him, he didn't have time to notice me. The first time he was working and just as I thought he had noticed me, his boss called him over and that was that. The second time, I watched him hit home run after home run, playing baseball for the towns Babe Ruth Travel team. He was also the teams catcher so he always had his back to me.
Fate stepped in when it came time for school registration. Little known to me, I would meet his younger sister. She would become my locker partner and it would be her desire to bum money off her brother that first day of school that would bring us together. She invited me to eat lunch with her because I didn't know anyone. The funny thing about his sister... she lacked one day being a year younger than me and we have the same first name, just different middle names. Oh, and our last initial was the same. We both had last names that started with a C.
When Bear walked through that door all I could think was, "Oh God! Not Him! Not Now! Don't do this to me." By that point in my life my heart had been broken so many times, I had sworn off relationships all together. I was never dating again! I should have learned never to say never, when My father said we would never move to Missouri and both times we ended up there within a month of his saying it. I am glad I didn't learn though.
I can't tell you what he was thinking when he sat down across from me other than someone must have run over my favorite cat. He wanted to know about me. He was upset that I didn't appear to intend on eating lunch. He wanted to see me smile, see what color my eyes were. I wanted him to go away!.
He didn't do that though. He insisted on making sure I could find my classes and made sure I got on the right bus home before heading off to football practice. Not without my promising him that I would meet him in the cafeteria the next morning.
I didn't meet him. He didn't give me the chance. He was waiting for me on the front steps. I asked him if he was going to be my new stalker. He found that funny and told me he didn't trust that I could find my way down the steps to the cafeteria without getting lost. I thought about hitting him for that. "Great you think I am either stupid or directionally inept."
"No, just new to the place and its huge. Besides, this way I got to look at your beautiful face that much sooner."
It was a beautiful start to a beautiful relationship. Then his speech class teamed up and he was assigned a girl who was in more trouble than I was. Her parents had kicked her out of the house convinced she could take care of herself at 17. They were getting a divorce and neither wanted her in their new life. I could see it in his face every time she walked passed. My knight in rusty armor had found a new damsel in distress that had a bigger, badder dragon to slay than mine. I didn't say anything when he stopped being outside my classroom door to walk me to lunch. He was still there after all the other classes. I didn't say anything when he started missing lunch all together and sending messages along with a cheerleader or one of his football buddies. I didn't say anything when their faces were covered in this sympathetic look that told me quite well they thought I was loosing him.
After about two weeks of this, I found him after lunch standing next to her locker, across the hall from mine. I watched him brush her hair out of her face and that was it. I had to do something. So that night after ball practice, when he called, I laid it out for him. "You want to go out with her."
"I don't know... maybe."
"Okay, well at least that was an honest answer. This is what we are going to do. Switch your lunch to first lunch so you can eat with her. Your class schedule allows you to do that. Then for the next week, you are going to eat lunch with her, walk her to all of her classes, call her after practice. Your going to do everything for her you would normally do with and for me. At the end of the week, after your trip to the mall for a movie, your going to decide. Which of us do you want. If its her, no harm done, it was fun while it lasted. If its me then you ask for a different speech partner and I won't ever have to see you pushing her hair out of her face again."
"Wait, I did that?"
"Yeah, you did that."
"Okay, I don't like it but if that's what you need me to do."
The happy part of that story... It took him two days to come back to me. He didn't last the whole week. "You're not just my girlfriend, you are my best friend and I can't go a day much less a week without worrying about you."
The hard part for him was having to tell her he had already made his decision, he couldn't be her speech partner anymore and they weren't going to that movie.
Life got harder for her after that. Had I realized that the kids in school would start to see her as "The girl who tried to break up the perfect couple", I would have never handled it the way I did. It wasn't her fault. She didn't even know what was going on. She graduated at semester before I realized what the outcome for her had been. I didn't get a chance to tell her how sorry I was.
Had someone been writing her story, this would have been a horrible ending to a possible romance that never got a chance to get off the ground. I had experienced several false starts myself and knew how badly that hurt. Its part of the process of learning what love is and what it isn't.
These kinds of tragedies must be acknowledged in modern Romance. Divorce happens a lot but why? Are we a society that is in love with being in love so much that we marry anyone who makes us feel that way not understanding that the emotional high will eventually lead to familiarity which can breed contempt? Is there any truth to absents makes the heart grow fonder? Or do we simply believe we will have no choice but to settle for less than what we want and dream of?
Clanbear had a lot to live up to. I decided that the man I married was going to be able to be all things to me. He would be able to fill every role I needed filled in my life and I would return that favor for him. Tall order that sent most guys running scared. That's why I stopped telling them. I told Bear though. I told him because I tell him everything.
We met August 24,1989. We married July 20, 1991. In August I will have been telling that man the complete an honest truth about everything for the last 25 years. He has returned the favor. It isn't always pleasant and has led to some wild fights that ended with him calling and asking if he could come home after I told him to get out and never come back. The first fifteen years of our marriage, I would say I did that at least once a month.
So how are we still together? Stubbornness? Probably. Love? Most definitely. Honesty? Without a doubt. A mutual agreement that to steal a line from the movie, "The Order" "It's you and me until the wheels fall off." He likes to add, "Even then, I have duck tape."
My point isn't that every romance needs a happy ending, it kind of does. That's why we read them. My point is that romance also has to include the ups and downs. The argument over when to meet parents. Whether or not your going to keep hanging out with friends who don't like your partner. Whether he should remember to put the seat down or which way the toilet paper should hang. Believe it or not how each of you squeeze the tooth paste tube really does make a difference.
These are the things that really tear relationships apart. Does he love her enough to take on her credit card debt? Does she love him enough for all of his school loans? Does she love salt box houses and he absolutely hate them? Does she want two kids to his twelve or vice versa?
You can include these things in your story, show how these things can pull people apart but in the end as long as you don't write yourself into an impassible corner, you can find your way out and back to the love at first sight relationship that does exist and does work. I am living proof of it.
My suggestion for your personal relationships and your characters for that matter:
Get the book "1001 ways to be Romantic" by Gregory Godek and use a number generator to pick an idea. They are all numbered, or at least the original version was twenty years ago. Put that idea to good use. Use it in your own relationship, then put it in your story complete with goofs and missteps. Your relationship, your characters, and your readers will thank you.
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