Remember Romance?

Here is a common complaint I hear from women who do not read romance novels: real life just isn’t like that. It’s sad but true that life does not always work out with a happy ending. And yet, sometimes it does. I even know romance writers who are not enjoying a happy-ever-after with their first loves. Some are divorced or widowed. Some have never married. Some are on their second, or third, or fourth marriages. So why would these women want to write about Happy Endings?

love swansI am an optimist by nature. I’ll admit that I enjoy the occasional murderous thriller and, when the mood hits, a dark and unhappy tale. Mostly, though, I like my stories upbeat and humorous, where everyone gets their just desserts in the end. A good romantic book or movie gives me that. When I transitioned from writing straight romance to women’s fiction, the heavy romantic story line was the first thing I dropped. But romance still figures in all my books. It kept getting stronger in each one, as a matter of fact. The hardest book I ever tried to write – and am still trying to finish! – features a married couple with no romance thread at all. Sorry to all the married people (like me!), but after a couple decades of marriage, romance isn’t on top of the agenda. There is still PLENTY going on, but it isn’t too romantic. πŸ˜€

baby-boomer-couple-at-dinnerBut even if real-life romance doesn’t stay front and center decade after decade, we still enjoy it. I once planned a romantic dinner with my husband on a rare night when we were without children. The waiter figured, wrongly, it must be our anniversary. Which made me realize that we only expect romance a couple of times a year, like on an anniversary or St. Valentine’s Day. Aren’t we selling ourselves short? Shouldn’t we expect romance to surprise us any old time, even if we’re in a committed relationship? Couldn’t any day be as romantic as Valentine’s Day? And if we expected more romance – planned for it, even – might we not find our lives a little sweeter, a bit happier or, at the very least, different?

What do you think? Is romance a requirement or is it just occasional icing on the cake of your life? If you haven’t found your Happy Ending yet, do you expect to someday?

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Comments

25 Comments

  • Shannon says:

    I was married for 10 years. It didn’t end because of the lack of romance but because my husband found his high school love through the internet. During the marriage, we had date nights with dinner, sitting side by side, holding hands and teasing touching. We did out-of-the ordinary things, too. I bought him a sled on a snowy day and we went to the hill behind our apartment and slid down the slope like kids.

    I haven’t really looked for romance. My career for a while dominated my life–long hours, lots of problems taken home, and reading to keep up with my field. When I switched to a shift job, I suddenly was working 8-10 hours, so I had time to start reading romance. I do believe that I can have a happy ending if I began to look for that.

    My friends have been on me to try Match.com or OurTime, a site for the over 50 crowd. There was one bus driver with the cutest smile. I really did want to flirt with him and find out his availability, but I never quite did that. They change the drivers every 90 days, so I have never seen him again.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Shannon, I think your experience is a case of doing all the right things and still having things go awry. It’s great that you and your husband did all those romantic things together. My husband and I met in engineering school, so we never had time for any of that in school. When we married, we had kids right away so we had little time for romance. so, about 25 years in, we are just now figuring out how much romance is right for us. Um…not that much. πŸ™‚

      It sounds like you enjoyed that romance and companionship, so I hope you’ll give someone else a chance to share your life. You’re such a warm person with so much to offer! Of course, if things didn’t work out for me and my husband. I’m not sure how keen I’d be to get back out there. I seem to have plenty to do by myself and with friends and family!

      I hope you find whatever YOUR happy-ever-after looks like. It’s different for everyone!

    • Caren Crane says:

      Oh, and be careful, Shannon. The Golden Rooster is the jealous type and may try to peck any men that come around you today. You may not want to take him on the bus! πŸ˜€

      • Shannon says:

        He was very happy that there were three very good looking chickies at the pool in bikinis. He complained that the water was much too cold. Chicken!

        • Caren Crane says:

          Ha! I’m not sure he knows how to swim. Matter of fact, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t. He does know how to strut for the chicks, though! πŸ˜€

  • Caren,

    I’m afraid romance is icing on the cake, although we do indulge a bit on that around here. Although seeing my hubby of 33 years reading to our grandkids or playing games with them is pretty romantic these days. I do know we tend to touch each other in small ways more now than when we were younger. Friendly, gentle touches that say, “I’m glad we’re still together.”

    • Caren Crane says:

      Suzanne, I’ve found the same thing. I think seeing my husband being a great dad to our now-grown children makes me love him more than any “romantic” gestures ever did. Him remembering to buy me wine at the grocery store or downloading a program he knows I like, those are romantic gestures to me!

      Now, if he would follow through on what he promised to get me for my brithday and Mother’s Day, that would be incredibly romantic. What says romance more than new parts for the stove? πŸ˜€

  • Jane says:

    Hello Caren,
    It’s more icing on the cake after a while, but then I see these couples who have been married for over 50 years on the news and how their romance never waned throughout the years.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Jane, I’m always suspicious of those couples. I suppose if they are the sort who were always joined at the hip, they might still be all hand-holdy and cute after 50 years, but come on. Who’s really like that? I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, but it seems unlikely. Maybe that’s just sour grapes from me, since I never once claimed my DH was my “best friend.” Ha!

  • Caren, what a lovely post! And full of your usual wit and wisdom. I so agree with you that romance isn’t something that should just be confined to those first heady days of a relationship and then anniversaries afterwards. I actually think it’s really sad when people say that real life doesn’t have any romantic happy endings. I look around my friends and family and I see so many people who love each other deeply and are very happy together. I think if you’re setting out with the idea that a sad ending is what life will give you, you’re creating a self-fulfilling prophecy!

    • Caren Crane says:

      So true about the self-fulfilling prophecy, Anna. Then again, I was talking to my hairdresser today (who is about 29) about people’s unrealistic expectations about marriage. Many folks seem to think that once you’re married, it’s all supposed to be sunshine and walks through flower-strewn fields.

      But any long-term relationship is messy, difficult and aggravating. It is also fulfilling, wonderful and worthwhile. I think my expectations were that it would be really difficult to be married. It is! But we love each other, so we keep trying. I think trying to communicate and connect is about the best you can do!

      • Caren, my parents were very happily married – to the point where other people would remark upon what a wonderful relationship they had. I think one of the things I admired is that they always respected the other person and they remained interested in each other as people. A very good example.

        I remember seeing something lovely on FB a week or so ago. It was a couple who had been married for 70 or 80 years (it was something astonishing) and were still in love. They said, “In our day, you didn’t throw something out if it broke, you fixed it.” Think that’s wonderful advice!

  • Helen says:

    Caren

    Hubby and I have been married for 37 years now and been together 42 years and yes we are happy but romance does not play a big part in our releationship these days yes we do love each other and do lots for each other but as Suz says when I see him doing things with the grandkids and helping our kids this makes me smile we do still go on holidays and do lots of things together even just the groceries and I know we will alwys be there for each other and we repsect each other and still laugh a lot πŸ™‚
    I think that a releationship changes over the years but as long as we love each other things are good

    Have Fun
    Helen

    • Caren Crane says:

      Helen, you are so wise! Yes, relationships continue to grow and change, don’t they? I think it would be odd if we got stuck in some early phase where things were all shiny and new and no one ever passed gas! πŸ˜€

      With lots of time comes lots of truth. Years spent together wears off the shiny, but it also wears off the masks we wear for the world. We become more ourselves with each other and that is a great thing to come home to!

      I know you and your DH love spending time with the grands. I hope we have some, one of these days. There is nothing my husband loves more than a baby!

  • Becke says:

    Caren,

    After 42 years we continue to fan the romance. My dh opens my door. We kiss and say I love you every night. WE miss one another when we’re apart. There’s nothing better than a hug or a sandwich out together. Like any relationship, it requires nurturing.

    JMHO
    b

    • Caren Crane says:

      Becke, you are so right about the nurturing. I’m so glad you guys have that! I think just remembering to really “see” each other is a huge part of it. Not becoming wallpaper, you know? Making sure each tells the other how special they are. Such a lovely thing to have. Congratulations on 42 wonderful years!

  • catslady says:

    It is something we probably should expect but I guess life seems to interfere. It does seem though that the unplanned icing can sometimes be the best of all. I like surprises so even though I enjoy planned events, I am happier with the small surprises but it probably depends on each couple.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Catslady, I do love to be surprised by lovely little gestures of love and affection. And that’s saying something, because in general I don’t like to be surpised AT ALL! πŸ˜€ You’re right, though, it definitely depends on the couple.

  • Mozette says:

    Romance is the icing on the cake in life.

    First thing you gotta do is make yourself happy… honestly, if you’re not happy in your own skin, in your home, in your life, clothes, jewelry – everything around you… you’re not going to be happy with a lover.

    I’m happy with my life. If I want something, I get my little butt out there and get it!

    I want a man!

    I put myself out there… and my heart gets itself dumped.

    It happened last night via a text (how crappy can ya get… not to mention rude! The guy couldn’t even talk to me face to face or phone me…). I talked to my brother (he’s my rock in my life; because there’s us two as siblings) and he said that if that guy can’t see what’s in front of him and sees work as the biggest and most important thing in his life, there’s something wrong with him.

    And you know, he’s right… my brother is right.

    There’s more to life than work… living life and meeting people is the best thing ever!

    I remember once I met an heir to a huge art company. We met an art opening at a regional art gallery I work at. He cornered me, chatted me up, talked to me all night and didn’t tell me he was the heir until I met his folks at the end of the night… then his mother called me a peasant. And I had turned on my manners, made eye contact, smiled and even watched my postured for his parents, and this woman patronised me in the place I worked in. I dealt with her very well – instead of exploding at her (like I normally would have). I held my head up high, and told her I wasn’t brought up poor, I’m upper-middle class, which is a stone’s throw from where she is… she went very, very quiet.
    The following year, the hot heir to the art company throne showed up with a horse face of a woman his mother had arranged him to marry… he hated her and wanted to see me still… since then I haven’t lowered my standards below that man.

    What was he heir to? The Faber Castel Pencil/Pen Art Company in Holland… his last name was Von Faber Castel.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Mozette, BOO HISS on the cretin who broke up by text. So horridly rude! Your brother gave you great advice. Go, bro!

      I admire your composure in the face of the rude art company matriarch. I’m never sure why people think having money gives them license to check their manners at the door. Good on ya for keeping your head held high and your standards high as well!

  • Jeanne Adams says:

    Hey Caren! Mine’s a happy ending – second time around but happy! Grins.

    Romance is great. And frankly I don’t know if I could have a happily ever after after some of the things I put my characters through. Grins.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Jeanne, I love bearing witness to your HEA. Hey, if it only took a couple of tries, you are ahead of LOTS of people! πŸ˜€

      I am often amazed at how resilient our characters are. I have tormented some of mine terribly, yet they always bounce back. Your characters have it far worse than mine, so they are obviously made of stern stuff!

  • Amy Conley says:

    My hubby can be very romantic at times not so much of the others but he complains I’m the one that’s not romantic. and I’m probably not I’m tired of it. I get it from my book and its way better than real life.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Amy, I confess I prefer my romance on paper most of the time. Is that terrible? I mean, I DO give romance and HEAs to my characters, so that should count for something, right? πŸ˜€

  • Alyn says:

    I like romance on paper but I don’t expect it in real life, at least I don’t expect it to be like the books. My husband was a very romantic guy but then he met me and I killed it for him. He would surprise me with flowers, write me poetry, sing me songs. He wanted romantic dinners and getaways. I’m just not into that stuff in real life.