Romance means different things to different people. To some, the proverbial chocolate and roses wins their heart. To others, it may be a date to their favorite restaurant followed by a movie. When you are younger, you often have grandiose visions of what romantic enchantment should be - thoughts often dictated by the fictional courting seen in movies. Think candlelit dinners, rose petals, picnics by the lake and big diamonds.
My husband and I were set up during an arranged kayaking trip. Romance to me at that time was travelling down the river side-by-side with our kayaks attached, and a trip outside of the campgrounds to replace a displaced milkshake. At the inception of our first official date, my husband greeted me at my door with a bouquet of wild flowers and an innocent, shy smile on his face.
A few months later, I was surprised with a home-made dinner served in a make-shift Italian restaurant-styled setting on his birthday. It was my day to surprise and spoil him, however he was so in love with me, he seized the opportunity to shower me with love. I knew I had found a rare gem.
Fast forward a few years - after the courting and after the wedding - I discovered, as most co-inhabitants usually do, that the acts of romance take a different shape and become more like acts of kindness and tidiness. After a few months of living together, I realized that gone were the fairytale candlelit dinners and fresh-cut flowers. Instead, my husband showed me his affections by taking out the trash, removing his shoes from the center of the hallway, and washing his beer glasses the same night rather than five days and much nagging later. These simple acts a tidiness were what made me happy, and what made his chest puff when he proudly announced that he did one or all of the above.
Once you have a baby, the definition of romance changes and the acts of love evolve once again. Now, who has time to run to the flower shop for a lovely arrangement? Instead, the love of my life is running to the drug store for some infant fever reliever and a week's supply of diapers. Romantic dinners now consist of my husband cleaning the dirty dishes while I try to coax my daughter to take one more bite of the homemade dinner that took me an hour and a half to prepare. If my husband offers to change the baby's diaper without any prompting from me, that is the sweetest of all gestures, and one that truly makes my heart melt.
Romance doesn't "die on the vine" after you start a family - it just changes. You no longer need the elaborate gestures of admiration, but rather it is the small, daily acts of thoughtfulness that are the grandest of all.