In Praise of the Unromantic Marriage

400x453xvalentines_day.jpg.pagespeed.ic.eIt05DBapNAs females we are all raised on the myth of romance. As we grew from girls into young woman we all went in search of the intangible feeling of excitement and ardor that romance promised. As a middle-aged married woman I here to sing the praises of the unromantic marriage.

Now, just because I believe romance is a transitory relationship affliction doesn’t mean I don’t believe in love. Love trumps romance. Although, I have found that many a marriage has been thrown into the divorce dumpster because one or both parties were seeking more romance in their lives. This is a mistake.

I’m here to tell you that some of the best and most durable marriages are built not on romance, but on something as dull as common sense. So, for all of you who are currently reading this and feeling very sorry for me while your spouse simultaneously feeds you grapes as he massages your feet with rose petals – don’t. Let me show you how unromance is the way to go as I myth bust 5 romantic gestures.

Grand Displays of Affection

Basically, a grand display of affection equals a cry for help. I’ll use my neighbors the “Sexy Showoffs” to illustrate this point.  This is a couple in search of a “Real Housewives” casting call. These two are all about the spotlight.

Every anniversary, every birthday the husband sends his wife on a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood to find clues where to locate her present.  This means that almost every neighbor is caught up in the drama of the gift hunt. It starts about a week before the birthday and anniversary with the husband coming over to see if he can leave a hint at your house on such and such date and time for the scavenger hunt.

When we first moved here I said yes to both b’day and anniversary. (Now, I decline to participate in this one-act play without full actor equity wages.) The wife, in a costume, the husband has selected for her to wear, (Can you believe it?) that is in some way a tip about her “big” gift, comes frolicking (most often breathlessly) from door to door collecting clues in the form of little gifts and then ta-da finally locates her mega present. By this time a large portion of the neighborhood is following the wife to see what her grand and glorious husband has surprised her with this time.

Last year it was a car for her birthday and a cruise for their anniversary. Almost every female neighbor, after this shameless bid for attention, always sighs and comments on what a romantic husband Mr. Sexy Showoff is. I roll my eyes while my evil mind tries to figure out what kind of unique hell is going on inside their house to make a couple in their 40’s take to creating a spectacle of themselves twice a year.

For the love of God, the wife was wearing a grass skirt and a coconut bar when she went clue hopping for that cruise.  Let’s just say her coconut bra was not sufficiently adequate to cover her more than ample pair of ripe tropical fruits.  This old enough to know better mom was flashing the neighbors her nipples the whole time. Oh and did I mention this took place in February. Truly, a nip out.

Romantic? No. A couple in need of counseling? Yes and just maybe forcing your wife outside in winter in a fruit bra and grass skirt constitutes some form of spousal abuse.  I’m thinking at the very least pain and suffering.

Besides it in no way can compete with the birthday and anniversary celebrations of the unromantic couple.  How can a cruise or a car even begin to rival, say, the gift of a new roof? What’s more romantic than protecting your family. In fact, a new roof is the gift that keeps on giving and it’s so special that it qualifies as not only a birthday gift, but Merry Christmas and Happy Anniversary all rolled into one.

Who hasn’t gotten their heart racing and all a tingle from what I call the trio present. I know when my husband tells me that the new plumbing costs so much that it’s going to be both of ours birthdaychristmasversary gifts I feel so special and blessed. Every time I flush the toilet I imagine I can hear it say, “I love you.”

Date Night

Whoever thought of this needs to be immersed in movie theatre “butter,” rolled in Milk Duds and then used as a swiffer to clean the theater’s floors. What a crock! Like a mom’s to do list isn’t long enough now we have to add date night to it. That’s all I need is the added pressure of finding a babysitter for a Friday or Saturday night. (Okay so my son is old enough to watch his little sister, but hey I remember the thrill of the hunt in finding a sitter all of your kids liked and that didn’t cost as much as getting my hair highlighted.)

Now add in the effort and time of getting myself all gussied up. Factor in the expense of a dinner and movie and the stupidity of making charming “non kid or work related” small talk with my husband. Eww.

Here’s what I’m interested in – Alone Night. The husband takes the kids to the movies. I get to go upstairs, get in my p.j.’s, get in bed, pour myself a little vodka and eat Reece Peanut Butter Cups while watching a chick flick. That’s romance. Why? Because your husband took one for the team by taking the kids and leaving you blissfully alone in a quiet house.  Now, you maybe saying how can being alone be romantic? But, you see I’m not alone I have vodka and chocolate so technically speaking I guess you could call it a three-way.

The Hands On Honey

Everyone repeat after me: Just because a couple is all touchy feeling does not a good marriage make. I have known many a marriage plagued by obsessive P.D.A. I’ll even admit to being a little jealous of one couple where the husband was besotted with his wife. His hands were always all over her. Patting, rubbing, nuzzling. It was as if he was looking for buried treasure. If my husband was handling me that much in public I would think he had, a) temporarily lost his vision and was working on honing his other 4 senses or b) he was patting me down in an attempt to find his phone.

This “in love” couple eventually divorced. It came out that the husband was a sex addict and had an extensive porn collection that would make Hugh Hefner blush. I asked the now ex-wife about all the lovey dovey displays and she said it would have been great if it had just been with her, but unfortunately his tactile skills were shared with the female community at large.

In an unromantic marriage you never need to worry about your husband trying to get to 2nd base at your Supper Club. He knows that if he thinks about reaching across the back of your dining room chair to massage your back fat in public you’ll step on his foot and make him help with the after party clean up. The tactile expression any unromantic wife really cherishes is a man’s ability to fondle a dishwasher. Psst, for all your romantics out there that means unload and load a dishwasher.

The Married Forever Club

Just because a couple has been married a long time doesn’t impress me nor do I necessarily find it romantic. Who doesn’t know the couple married for 30 year where maybe 3 years were happy ones. Congratulations on not having the balls to get a divorce. I don’t think you’re a quitter if you get a divorce. In a lot of cases I think it takes guts to give up on a marriage. You’re walking away from a life you thought you wanted and going out into the unknown. That’s takes a certain degree of courage which I feel is immensely braver than parading your coupledom around like your living the romance for the ages when in reality your marriage is a crapfest. At my wedding, many years ago, one of my mother’s friend came up to me and said, “I wish you as much happiness in your marriage as mine has brought me.”

I, being 23 years old, thought it was very sweet. My mother heard it got livid. I was like, “What’s the big deal Mom?”  Well, my mother said I had just been cursed. Her friend’s husband was a cheating, horny mess. I was shocked.  The couple sashayed through town like they were a very mature Romeo and Juliet. Which goes to prove my long-standing theory that the more ostentatious the marital affection the more I suspect a love fraud.

Were Lovers Not Roommates

That’s like saying you only wear sexy nightgowns or twizzler thongs to bed. When in fact you know you wear a t-shirt and granny panties most nights. There is nothing wrong with, on occasion, being roommates in a marriage. In fact, during certain times in a marriage being roommates is essential for your family’s survival.

Case in point when you bring that new baby home from the hospital you don’t need a Lance Romance you need a roommate. Someone to help you handle the exhaustion, the chores and the care-taking of the brand new human. When my kids were babies my most favorite sound wasn’t their cooing, but the clatter of the garage door opening every evening. It meant my husband was home from work. Yahoo, the Calvary had arrived and I could hand off the baby and take a shower, take a nap or just hide out for 30 minutes.

Now, imagine if during this critical time your marriage was lover based instead of roommate focused. Your husband would come home from work ready to sweep you off your feet, take you into bed for a frisky romp.  Yuck. That would mean you would have to get all pretty and by that I mean shave your legs or at the very least put on deodorant. Then you’d have to make sure your infant was asleep and not ready for another turn at the all you can eat boob buffet – good luck with that. And what woman after being sucked on all day by a newborn want’s to do it all over again with an adult who is very capable of taking care of himself, if you know what I mean.   believe that makes it, at least in this case, advantage roommate.

Let us all now have a moment to rejoice and take pride in the unromantic marriage. A marriage built not on roses and passionate declarations of affection but on the ability to withstand the aggravation of a toilet seat being perennially left up. That is a marriage built to stand the test of time.

*Attcover_1.3-2ention Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂


45 thoughts on “In Praise of the Unromantic Marriage

  1. Mrs B. says:

    I totally agree with the first one. The second birthday I had after DH and I were married he got me a washer and dryer for my birthday. When he told the women he works with, they were horrified! Never mind that I actually WANTED a washer and dryer! Actually in a way I thought it was kind of sweet, because he got it so I wouldn’t have to take our clothes to the laundromat in winter while I was heavily pregnant. As I’ve gotten older my idea of romance has changed. Yes when I was younger I wanted a guy who’d send me flowers and serenade me. Now, I like him to write me a love letter for my birthday, and I’m happy with that. He is the kind of guy who doesn’t like to be forced to buy flowers and gifts on specific days-Valentine’s day, etc. He’ll come home with a bouquet of flowers randomly, just because. Love and marriage is a lot more than the butterflies in your tummy of first falling in love. I think that’s why so many people have problems nowadays with staying married. They expect that hormone rush to be permanent.

  2. OH2OR says:

    When we were dating, DH got me a $100 Tempurpedic pillow. Our friends thought he was nuts and I was singing his praises, as was my aching neck. For Mother’s Day a few years ago, he got me the Dyson Animal. Being a long-haired mother of a long-haired daughter and two furry cats, I have to say, I love that man!

  3. Gail says:

    I don’t know how you did it, but you did! You either crept into my psyche, or into my computer files were I had an essay I had written several years back titled ‘In Defense of the Non-Romantic Man’! To say that I would agree with your entire post is a pathetic understatement; it’s as if I could have written it myself! Bravo, bravo, bravo … now, if only more brides would understand this as they are walking down the aisle, perhaps our divorce rate would be far lower …

  4. Lynda... says:

    My husband and I decided to celebrate our 20 year anniversary this year with a delightful trip to the cell phone store. (The end of a crappy cell phone contract is cause for celebration in my book!) With stars in our eyes and iPhones in hand, we made our way to a Chinese restaurant for lunch. (Do the math: Weekday lunch during school hours = Zero Babysitting $$$)

    The fact that we have made it this many years without therapy or serious injury is a gift itself. Who needs a trip to Aruba or a vase full of overpriced roses when I have the Starbuck’s app at my fingertips now?

  5. dawneatscake says:

    When I dropped expectations that my husband should buy me roses and sweep me off my feet, I fell more in love with him. Now I’m able to see that he’s truly thinking (maybe even romantically…) of me when he brings home some Mike and Ike’s. We’re friends and housemates, not storybook characters. We’re going on 5 years now, and they’ve been happy – even when it’s hard!

  6. Gail says:

    One of my favorite destinations on nights we went out together, sans children: Home Depot! My non-married friends would simply chuckle at me, convinced that my marriage had to be pretty dull if I got excited over browsing Home Depot. What they didn’t get is that there is nothing sexier than a man who is always looking for ways to better feather the nest you and he have built together! 14+ years and going strong … 🙂

  7. Anna says:

    Oh that would have been fun to watch. I wonder if the husband puts his wife through this, more because he has a very twisted dark sense of humor. And finds it hilarious that she is willing to traipse through the neighborhood, half nekkid and most likely embarrassed.

    One day he will show up with a thong and pasties, that will be his demise!

  8. Bonnie says:

    I completely agree! The best gifts my husband ever gives me are gifts to make my life easier-new washer, new vacuum, new dish washer. I have 5 kids and have been married 15 years-I don’t mind a good roll in the hay but glad I don’t have to dress to impress everytime-sometimes just showing up does the trick and for this I love my practical husband. I know that I may not get roses and scavenger hunts but I get a man who comes home every night, loves only me, and deeply cares about the wellfair of his family-Praise God for good unromatic husbands everywhere!

  9. Annabelle says:

    Here, here. This reminds me of the New Year’s Eve we spent together, naked, in front of the fire and holding a fancy cocktail. The kids were up in bed and I commented how great this was, at 8pm we were already where everyone else out “on the scene” was trying to get by the end of the night.

  10. Barbara says:

    The BEST “I love you” is walking out to get in your car after work to find that the car was serviced (oil change, etc.), detailed inside and out, money for Happy Hour at Sonic, and a new CD that you were waiting to come out. I felt like the most loved girl in the world!

  11. Just Jennifer says:

    I went back and forth while reading this wondering if you were really being serious. I think you are and I have to agree. I wrote a post earlier this year about my unromantic husband and how much I love him anyway. We’ve been married 13 years now, together 17. We’ve been through a lot too. A good marriage is many things. Romantic, as it turns out, is a very small part.

  12. Chris says:

    My husband must lose in the romantic department then. I got a new front loading washer for our wedding (and a house), needed a new dryer on our 1st anniversary, Kirby vacuum for a birthday, dishwasher for an anniversary, put up overnight in a hotel with the kids when the air quit in July and he was out of town, drive the top of the line mini-van (although it is not brand new, just new to us), I just ordered new contacts AND glasses . . . I think I’ll keep him even though I don’t get flowers often. I do get mail on the occasion that he does go out of town.

  13. jesterqueen1 says:

    My husband and I are comfortably unromantic. We do periodically scramble around for the sitter (yeah, roomates gotta talk at each other without an ongoing loud debate about the Lincoln Logs overburdening the whole conversation). Mostly, though, we both married for commitment, and we have a very different definition of romance. Not all that different from yours of unromance, really.

  14. Dani Fisher says:

    I love it and I agree. People think it is crazy that my husband and I do not (really) exchange gifts. If he sees something he knows I like he buys it and vice versa- usually is a Twix and a Diet Coke. He really like new socks. My parents were are the same way and it has served them well. I fall in love with him every time he cleans the snow off my car (winters in Ohio suck).
    Keep the wonderful stories coming…

  15. Chelsea says:

    I love this post! Sounds like me and my husband. Yes we do nights off from our young kids and our idea of romance is ordering take out and hanging at home in our pjs generally in different rooms watching what we want on tv. Its not that we aren’t romantic we just define romance in a different perspective. I’d rather have a roof than flowers that die. We have a good marriage a solid marriage we are a team that don’t feel the need to fit it into the you need a date night or all the romantic crap society thinks you need. Love your writing.

  16. megancary says:

    hell yes to the vodka, chocolate and crappy movie. my husband’s a drummer on top of his regular job, and some of my favorite nights are when he puts the boy to bed and then heads off to record or rehearse. i sit with my vodka tonic and cookies and cuddle up to Big Love or some such drama.

  17. Amy lou says:

    I feel in love with the romantic guy. He sang to me, sent me cards and called me all the time. But I had no clue how deeply he lived me until the 2nd night of our honeymoon. Him running for and back with the trash can was just sexy. Holding my hair back and telling me he loves me as I cried because I was barfing was when I learned what true love really is!! It’s taking turns with cranky babies, cooking dinner for your kids so your sick wife can rest, and scraping her windows on frosty mornings. Ya, that’s romance!

  18. ellen says:

    Facebook has taken things to a whole new level don’t ya think? Relationship braggers/over-sharers are definitely hiding something. How about just walking into the kitchen to tell your partner you love them instead of declaring it on FB? Hello- you live in the same house! Pay attention to how many “fabulous” relationships go down in flames. And enough with the squeezed-together “date night” self portrait postings- yuck!

  19. jessica, mother of the uncouth son says:

    twizzler thongs, HA! after the c-section birth of my son, my hubby became the eternal roomy because he changed my bedpan–twice–after the dumb bitch nurse pulled the catheter but not the H2O i.v. i filled up like a 50-gallon tank in what felt like minutes. romance left the building immediately after.

  20. WesternMisery says:

    Fantastic! A friend told me this weekend she was making her husband go to see The Vow with her. I just gave a chuckle & nodded. What I really thought was that I would rather poke rusty forks in my eyes than sit through that movie….or really any romantic comedy, chickflick a la The Notebook (which I have never seen & have no desire to see). Then I thought, am I the man in my marriage? But, you answered it for me, I have an unromantic marriage & it’s pretty kickass.

  21. Kim Pierce Dennis says:

    The best Valentine’s Day was when my husband didn’t make reservations for dinner and of course we couldn’t get a seat at any restaurant. We ended up at the convenience store buying bowling pin Bud Light’s and Vienna Sausages in the can. BEST VALENTINE’S EVER!! And yes- we are from Alabama!

  22. Mary Schneider says:

    This made me cry on a few levels…

    First… YES YES YES on the “love trumps romance every time”. LOVED that line. And that marriage is made of common sense… A roof is the gift that keeps on giving, omg truth!! lol!!
    God I could just quote this thing all day.

    But what brought on the tears was saying that it takes guts to walk away from a marriage. I just passed the 1 year anniversary of signing the divorce papers… And even in that we were so in synch, just a team getting it done, no drama, no fuss. He signed on the dotted line and passed me the paper and pen as if it were just another form… Funny how people are after 17 years together.

    He’s a damn fool… who went chasing “romance” with a high-school girlfriend (and I wish them both all the happiness they deserve…)… And I… I am dating again, slowly, painfully, forcing myself to get out of the comfort zone I had built out of being a married woman and remembering what it was like to date… Except I’m not in my 20s anymore, and this time around, I’m not looking for romance so much as a friendship that might grow into something more than roommate status.

    Valentine’s day? I’ll be spending it with my two pretty-awesome teens, eating discount chocolate and watching movies. Romance can suck it. If there’s a “winner” in all this, it’s me. I get to spend my day with two of my favorite people, and neither one of them gives a flying fig whether or not I’ve shaved my legs.

  23. Pearl says:

    I love this!!! One year I got the $100 roses…thanked him and bitched at him for wasting $90….any other day of the week they are $10 in the floral dept of the grocery. This past year we got a new (unexpected) hot water heater for our anniversary. For Christmas, a new pool pump. I know, nothing sexier, but I have hot water and a working pool. Better than roses, hands down.

  24. Marie Curie says:

    Your article hit it on the nose. Getting older I miss and yes, even dream about the days of, falling in love. But I realize being in love is so much better. Some of the grand displays I’ll always remember go from just walking me to my car and making sure I was safely on my way when we had to go to to a party separately all the way to buying me (unseen – which goes against *everything* in his nature) a retirement place that I fell in love with and still love every day. During the hectic years of raising 3 boys he went camping with them at least once a month for the weekend with the Boy Scouts and was I ever glad to see them go. But by Sunday noon I had had enough of my “freedom” and waited for them to return to a good Sunday dinner (even if they were accompanied with dirty clothes and bedding). Having had a handy father I knew more about maintenance then did my husband when we first married but moving distant from family and having little money went a long way in him learning the tricks of many trades. I became the helper except for the day he and a friend decided to remove a 3 story tall tree laden with poison ivy that was growing too close to our house. They pulled it out using a Volkswagon and I took the kids out for the day! I figured if it crashed into the house destroying whatever I could just stay out until I didn’t have to deal with damages and poison ivy! “Oh yee of little faith”, he said when I pulled up and found out the job was complete without incident or infection! I just smiled and told him how wonderful he was! Next year is our 50th anniversary and we still love each other. When we are apart He and I call each other 4 or 5 times a day just to say “I love you”. I always laugh when he says “What’s new” in the morning when he wakes me with his call since the last thing at night we call each other before bed and say “I love you”. So it’s a morning joke when I say “Well, I still love you”. A big plus is that we have grown into realizing we each need some of our own space once in awhile so we don’t do *everything* together – I mean I can spend the day looking at beads but just how many kinds of fishing lures can there possibly be? And since he still travels for business the time part makes the time together even better. Thanks for a wonderful article.

  25. Mandy says:

    My favorite gift I ever received from my husband was a bag of watermelon Jolly Ranchers(early anniversary when we were broke). Now, we do not even bother with gifts. We just moved and he makes me swoon by ripping down wallpaper.

  26. Rachel says:

    My most “romantic” birthday ever was a few years ago. My birthday fell on a Saturday. My husband asked me to get the kids ready to go out, and while I was doing that, he went out and grabbed me some Dunkin Donuts. Then he took my car, and the kids, to the car wash, Jiffy Lube, the book store, and Chuck E. freakin Cheese! They were gone for like 8 hours, while I was in a Lifetime Movie coma!! I LOVE THAT MAN!!

  27. Michael Montague says:

    Practicality is very sexy. “This gift of _____, or Exactly what I/we needed” is a hopeful and realistic gesture that makes the statement: We are in this together. Thanks for this, it was heart-warming to read.

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