Beyond the romance
I remember the first time I held hands with my boyfriend. Later on we kissed. Both times tingles shot up and down my spine. When he sent me flowers or cards my heart would go all aflutter. His words leapt off the page and were like precious jewels to me. He wrote this especially for me! To be held and treated so tenderly and lovingly was such a breathtaking thrill. He made me feel like I was the luckiest girl alive. If only that feeling would last forever.
Unfortunately it doesn’t. No matter how hard we try to hold on to it, a romantic high eventually comes to an end. That’s just life. There are highs and there are lows.
But does ‘romance’ automatically equate with ‘love’? It’s a question that has often crossed my mind. So many of us search and try frantically to hold on to that feeling of ecstasy, only to come crashing back down. Yet we persist in holding on to this untrue notion that if we don’t have romance we don’t have love.
I think about my parents. They’ve been married for more than 50 years. Their marriage was not arranged in the traditional Chinese custom, though they were both born in Guangdong. They met and dated the Canadian way. Photos from the time reveal they were a good looking young couple. Dad was dashing and mom was so pretty and fashionable. They were so well dressed and made up, they looked like movie stars. Sometimes I can hardly believe the people in those pictures are my parents.
Throughout the years there would be enjoyable times in their lives. They would come home from their ballroom dancing lessons or mahjong parties, laughing about how their friend Fred had slipped in his new shoes or how Sharon got so crazily excited to finally win a game. They took pleasure in their many group tour holidays with both their family and friends. They were also proud, beaming parents when their children graduated from school and when they finally got to hold their new grandchild.
Life for them, however, did not always turn out to be as rosy as their early photos depicted. There were days when they didn’t look so beautiful, when they didn’t laugh, or when they didn’t want to be so close together. As a child I remember hearing arguments between them which were horrible and distressing to me. There were times I laid awake at night, worried, wondering if they would divorce. (Thankfully they didn’t!)
Another time I remember hearing my mom cry in despair. Apparently my dad had passed out and she couldn’t lift him into the bed. I can’t imagine that was a very romantic moment in their marriage. Nor was the time they stood by their son in his bed as he lay gravely ill in the hospital.
Their marriage is not always or strictly filled with romantic moments. But does that mean they don’t love each other? I don’t think so. As a famous saying goes, “Love is patient, love is kind . . . it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” The ‘always’ quality of love isn’t necessarily romantic. It just is.