I Wanted a Fairy Tale Romance, What I Got Was So Much Better

An apology to my husband, and all men, for how women get brainwashed about romance.

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Photo Credit: domoyega on iStock

By Melissa Charles

Dear Men,

On behalf of many women, I’d like to publicly apologize about the whole fantasy romance thing. As young girls, a lot of us were raised on media and society-driven princess fantasies, ball-gowns and magic slippers. We may have bought into the promise that one day our Prince would come, and from early on were inundated with a definition of romance that no mortal man could possibly match. In our teenage years, along came music. And, in the lyrics of popular ballads men were willing to die for women, they wrote countless love songs, and promised them, literally, the moon. Add in chick flicks, otherwise known as romantic comedies, and then romance novels. Women were raised with a ridiculous, unattainable standard of what they should expect from romance and of what a romantic partner should be or do.

Frankly, you guys were screwed, long before you got lucky, you get what I’m saying?

♦◊♦

Or else it doesn’t count. You don’t love her. You’re not romantic enough even if she believes you love her. She yearns for that grand romantic gesture that no normal guy can manage. A guy with Bill Gates’ bank account could: renting limos, giving daily flowers, jetting off on a romantic vacation, these are impossible on the average guy’s budget. And, I don’t know about anyone else, but even if I could afford those things, I’d rather do something lasting, like buy a house, have a savings account. Real-life stuff. Women have been conditioned to expect men to fulfill romantic fantasies. And, not just fulfill them, but to know what they are by without being clued in to what they actually are. It’s insane.

I was just too damn brainwashed to realize it because his style of romance isn’t what I’d been taught to expect.

I know. I was guilty of doing this to my husband. I was frustrated and disappointed at his lack of romantic gestures. Then I realized, he is romantic. I was just too damn brainwashed to realize it because his style of romance isn’t what I’d been taught to expect. It was like standing in a flowing river, dying of thirst.

Romance is meant to show love, and caring, right? That’s the purpose if it’s sincere and not just a way to get her into bed. My husband’s romance? Going to three different stores to get his (then) pregnant wife her favorite ice cream. It’s bringing my favorite coffee on his way home from work. It’s taking the kids out for a hike, so I can write, or grab a nap. It’s buying a cheesecake to celebrate a writing accomplishment or being willing to run out and buy a new keyboard when the toddlers killed mine off my current one. It’s calling home from work just to see how the day is going. It’s getting up first thing in the morning, and wrangling the kids so I can sleep. It’s playing our wedding song for the toddler to listen to, looking over at me, and grinning. It’s those little details of our lives, where he romances me and his love shows.

♦◊♦

I’d rather have a lifetime of romance, the way my husband shows me than a momentary, media-approved, grand gesture.

These are not the things little girls and women were taught that romance should be. But, this is true romance. It’s sustainable romance, day after day, throughout our lives. It's woven through our day, gestures so small that they can be missed, taken for granted, unappreciated. Flowers are lovely, but they die. Chocolates, poetry, candlelight dining, they’re nice, sure. Now that I know better, and recognize the daily romance in my life, I wouldn’t trade it for a trip to anywhere, no matter how exotic. I’d rather have a lifetime of romance, the way my husband shows me than a momentary, media-approved, grand gesture.

This is the kind of romance I can hold on to. And I plan to, every day.

This story was previously published on The Good Men Project.

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