Monday, January 31, 2011

A Bed Of Roses?

A Bed Of Roses?

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching I thought it might be fun to examine the paperback romance novel? With that line I just lost most of the men. Okay, ladies – and you other brave souls – let’s talk truth. How many of you are willing to admit that, at some time in your life, you have read a romance novel? For those of you who have not had the experience, let me break it down for you. Girl meets boy. Boy is antagonistic. Girl falls in love anyway, but resists. Boy is ruff and gruff and leaves girl crying before admitting that he loves her too. Oh, and it helps if he’s rich. Okay, it’s been a few years since I’ve read one, but I’m sure the plotline hasn’t changed much.

I don’t mean to belittle romance novels. After all, I couldn’t get enough of them in my younger years. Even when the heroine seemed as bright as the scented candles she lit for ambience. I even contemplated writing one. But it was their na├»ve concept of love that drove me out of the clutches of the romance novel. It’s not that I don’t like romance. I would be delighted to receive a bouquet of roses and be whisked off to an isolated cabin for the weekend. With just the two of us walking hand in hand along a wooded path, the scent of lilacs permeating the air…wait a minute, I’m not going to get pulled back into that illusion. Sure, my husband and I have the odd romantic moments when I remember why I married him in the first place, but marriage is not a work of fiction.

Too often, people expect a relationship to be like a romance novel –infatuation run rampant, forever and ever – and when real life sets in they think it’s time to throw in the towel. They don’t realize that the presumed “happily-ever-after” following the declaration of love is not the end of the story. It’s only the prologue.

It’s when your partner sees you, sans make-up, walking round in a flannel nightgown and wool socks, and you see him wearing the same torn underwear two days in a row that the story really begins. The time for “Of course, sweetie, whatever you want.” is over. The little quirks that you found endearing when you first met will start to work on your last nerve. And it doesn’t matter how much you beg (or nag), you will never change his or her innate personality. Better people than I have tried and failed. If you want to spend your life with someone, get used to seeing his golf swing in the middle of the living room or the sound of her ABBA songs emanating from your stereo. Look past these small annoyances and you might find something worth working toward.

It will take some effort on your part. Don’t believe anyone in a long term relationship who tell you that they are madly in love and have never had an argument with their partner, because either she’s a Stepford wife, or he has his hearing aid turned off. Compromise and patience are necessities to keep things healthy and sane. And I don’t advocate experimenting with those magazine articles that begin with “Ten Ways to Spice up Your Love Life.” If you try the rose petals on the bed bit she’ll complain that it’s just one more thing she has to clean up. And no, he doesn’t want you to greet him at the door wrapped in cellophane. He’ll just complain that everything these days is over packaged.

I’m not an expert when it comes to relationships, and I’ll be the first to admit that there are days when I can’t wait to book my husband on the first civilian flight into space, but after almost twenty-nine years together, I figure we must be doing something right. Forget cow-eyed infatuation. Seeing each other through the flu, now that’s love!

I’ll concede that the romance novel has its place…on the bookshelf. Actually, a little fantasy life is a good thing. As long as the rose petals stay between the pages, then we’ll live happily ever after. The end….Unless I change my mind.