What Would Love Do Now?Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is also of little love.
· Erich Fromm
Sallie and Steve have been happily married for 15 years but they both admit that their romance has not been satisfying. “I would really like to be more romantic with Steve, but I don’t know what he likes anymore,” says Sallie, a high school English teacher. Steve, a small town CPA, agrees. “I know Sallie wants more romance, and I do too, but how do I get started? I have no idea what she expects.” If you, like Steve and Sallie, desire fabulous romance you must begin with honest communication.
Romance is deeply personal, so if your partner isn’t Kreskin, you’ll have to tell them what romance means to you. There is no romance gene in your darling’s DNA to help them figure out what makes you feel loved. Chris, a retired nurse and grandmother of six, says that her biggest romantic regret was never telling her husband how much the little things meant to her. “After 50 years of marriage, I guess I always expected him to know that I loved flowers. I never understood that it was up to me to tell him.” Romance is not supposed to be a secret, and although everybody craves tenderness, soft caresses and pampering, you must tell your beloved what you need. Would you like a bunch of handpicked wildflowers, or a dozen red roses delivered to you? Does a home-cooked meal in front of the fireplace, or an upscale restaurant with expensive champagne sound more romantic?
Kathy, a newly married designer recalls her first disastrous attempt at a romantic surprise. “I spent hours in the kitchen creating a romantic candlelit dinner for the two of us, and Bob walks in and casually informs me that it was the season finale of the X-files and all the buddies from work were dropping by in a few minutes to watch. And, oh yeah, they just ordered pizza. Now I tell him when I’m planning something special.”
When you’re in a romantic mood, nothing is more natural than the desire to communicate those feelings. In fact, the word romance translates from Latin to the action verb “to write”. Thousands of years of great works of art, literature and music have been inspired by this yearning to express inner romantic feelings. There are endless ways to communicate your feelings, such as writing cute love notes, passionate sonnets and silly little love songs. Besides writing, you can also use a tender touch, a shared joke, or their favorite meal to communicate romantic thoughts to your sweetie.
Ask your loved one to set aside the evening for a romantic surprise. Doing this the “when” is established and preserved as your time, and the “what” serves as the anticipated mystery. Dawn, an author, enjoys creating romantic surprises for her husband, Jim. “I work at home, so I have all afternoon to plan. I call him at work and drop hints, like bring home a bottle of your favorite wine tonight and don’t be late. The anticipation of what I’m planning drives him wild, and I know he’ll be home on time.”
When setting the stage for romance in your home, use soft colors, soft lighting, soft fabrics, and soft music. Softness in your home will in turn encourage soft whispers, soft caresses and soft glances. The soft glow of candlelight or flickering firelight turns an ordinary room into a romantic retreat. Treat your sense of touch with thick rugs, fluffy comforters on the bed and silky lingerie in soft colors.
Soft scents can be powerful aphrodisiacs. Rose and jasmine encourage romance for women while men especially like the scent of vanilla, which is the spice of Venus, the goddess of love. Use natural fragrances and essential oils sparingly so you don’t overwhelm your partner. Sneezing fits are not very romantic! Play some soft romantic music by Michael Franks, Sara McLaughlin, or Barry White. For romantic movies consider Philadelphia Story, Ever After, and Truly, Madly, Deeply.
Splurge on a single red tulip, symbolizing a declaration of your love, instead of a bouquet. If you work with computers, you can merge photos of the two of you into a heart, record your own love song or email a poem. Tuck a packet of seeds into your Valentine’s Day card to symbolize love growing. Cook dinner together and slow dance in the kitchen. Hank, a 46 year-old engineer from Atlanta, knows that his wife craves the pampering of breakfast in bed. “She loves the fact that I would go to the trouble to make her favorite foods and not expect her to get up and cook for me. I’m not much of a chef, so I make a breakfast that is simple, elegant and easy to eat chocolate croissants, lattes, whole strawberries and sliced mangoes, which symbolize sensuality.”
“On our first Valentine’s Day together, I didn’t have money to buy my husband a card. So I found some colored paper and crayons and created a collage of pink and red hearts flying around the handwritten message, Be mine forever,” says Naomi, an insurance executive. “After fourteen Valentine’s Days together, that first handmade card still hangs in our bedroom.”
Create a theme evening by recreating a wonderful romantic interlude that you shared together. Dan and Sherry honeymooned in Hawaii, and now when they want to capture that feeling, Sherry puts on soft island music, Dan grills pork and pineapple and they wear bright Hawaiian shirts to dinner. “It sounds goofy,” laughs Sherry. “But it works every time to bring back the romantic feelings we had on that trip.”
Serve heart-shaped scones or pancakes for breakfast. Write “BEE Mine” across the plate with the syrup or honey. Leave a trail of small sugar message hearts leading to a surprise. Paste glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling above the bed. Turn off the lights and…instant star-filled romance! Dana, a young mother of twin toddlers, writes “Eye Heart U” on the bathroom mirror for her husband to see when he gets up. “We don’t have a lot of time for romance so I try to fit in little things every day. Jeff loves the morning reminder and since I’m a bit of a clean freak, I write with soap and not lipstick so it’s easier to clean and write new notes!”
Make your romantic bouquet meaningful by including red roses symbolizing passionate love, pink roses for romantic love or white roses for innocent love. Peonies are traditional Chinese flowers used in Feng Shui to attract romance. Pomegranates, corn and rice are used in many cultures to promote fertility. Use pink light bulbs in your bedroom lamps, or place a few rose quartz crystals under a light to create a soft glow. If pink is not your thing, try emerald green, the traditional color of Aphrodite.
Mike, a Midwest based salesman, bought an expensive bottle of champagne to open on a special occasion with his girlfriend Kara. “We never had the ‘perfect’ reason to pop the bottle, so after three years of waiting, we decided to just open it anyway for no reason. Well, it was too late. The bottle we had been looking forward to for three years had sat around too long and had gone bad. We bought another bottle and decided not wait this time for a reason, we’ll drink it just because we feel romantic.”
“The most romantic thing my husband ever did was to wake me up at early one ordinary Saturday morning,” remembers Anna, a chiropractor and yoga instructor. “We climbed onto our motorcycle and headed into the darkness. When we reached the top of a hill overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, my husband pulled out coffee, donuts and a blanket he had hidden in the bike bags. We ate our picnic breakfast on the grass and greeted the sun as it slowly rose. Sharing the dawning of a new day was very romantic.”
Romance is personal and can be playful and fun or quiet and intense. It can be a prelude to deeper intimacy, or it can just be romance for its own pleasure. The origin of romance is “to write”, and today, honest communication is still the first step to finding the key to fabulous romance with your beloved. “When other women ask me how I got so lucky and married a romantic man, I tell them that it starts with honesty from the heart,” says Trudie, an artist who has been married to Harold for 60 years. “We tell each other what we like, so there’s no guesswork. It all comes down to communication and love.”
- Lorraine Aho
Lorraine is the founder of SacredHome.com®”for the art and soul of your home.” She enjoys helping people create sacred spaces in their homes by providing a broad variety of advice and products to accomplish this with style and panache. Lorraine is a practical romantic and lives with her silly romantic husband and two cats in Sonoma, California. To learn other tips for incorporating the sacred into your home and your life, visit Sacred Home.com or give her a call at (888)599-4106
Love comforteth like sunshine after rain. · William Shakespeare
When Levi Carpenter proposed to Letitia (Letty) McClusky on New Year’s Eve in 1919, he said, “Pick a day [for our wedding], and make it one I can always remember.”
She chose February 14.
That year, 1920, a foot of snow fell in Fayetteville, Tennessee, on Valentine’s Day. Letty said, “Let’s put it off a week, to make sure all the guests can arrive.” Levi wouldn’t hear of it. He was convinced the day was right, snow or no snow. The wedding was hastily moved from the church to the minister’s parlor, with five people present.
Because the roads were impassible, all arrangements for flowers, refreshments, and formal wear had been scrapped. Yet, as if by magic, Levi arrived with a bouquet of pink roses for his bride. When prodded, he said he “had connections.” Forty-some years later, he confided to his great-grandson that the minister’s wife had brought them from her own greenhouse.
When the young great-grandson visited after Valentine’s Day, he knew a huge bouquet of pink roses would be on the mahogany table in the foyer. But that wasn’t all.
Somewhere near the vase was Levi’s one annual attempt at artistry: a large snowflake intricately cut from paper. Attached to it was a note: “To Letty, my Valentine lady these 44 years.” The words never changed from year to year, just the number. Yet true to nature, the snowflakes were always a different design.
The great-grandson had, at the age of nine, discovered the nook in the china cabinet where every anniversary snowflake had been placed, lovingly and dearly, starting with the first one inscribed, “To Letty, my Valentine for a whole year.”
A few years afterward Levi gave Letty a snowflake on which he had written, “To Letty, by Valentine lady these 56 years.” No one was sure if Letty saw this one. She was alive, and conscious, but so heavily medicated that she could only nod faintly when Levi held the snowflake in front of her. He placed it on her bedside table in the nursing home, beside the vase of pink roses. He turned to Letty and said, “I’ll be in tomorrow, early, Letty.” Then after a pause, he added, “my love.” She nodded faintly again.
Levi took the grandson’s arm – a rare occurrence – as they left the room. A few feet down the corridor he said, “Boy, go get that snowflake. Them nurses or cleanin’ women may throw it out with the garbage.” The grandson retrieved it, knowing Levi intended to take it home to the china cabinet with the others. If Letty ever came home, he would show it to her then.
The following Valentine’s Day, the young man and Levi made their way to the cemetery, bringing a bouquet of pink roses. There was a light dusting of snow, and Levi brushed it away from the double headstone. He placed the roses in the headstone’s vase, hesitated, then put them back in the glass vase he’d brought them in. “This is foolish, boy,” he said. “No point leavin’ these here where no one’ll see them. She’ll see ‘em, anyway, wherever they are. . . Here, go put these flowers back in the car.”
As the young man sat waiting in the car while the snow began to fall in earnest, he saw Levi take something from his coat pocket and tuck it down inside the stone vase. It appeared to be a piece of paper, though he couldn’t be sure. That April, the two planted a pink rose bush nearby, and it had bloomed beautifully through the summer.
In the dull winter light of the following Valentine’s Day, the rose bush looked rather somber, as did the whole cemetery. The date of Levi’s death had been carved on the headstone four months earlier. The young man had gotten his driver’s license that year, and had driven himself out to the cemetery. The silk poinsettias his parents had placed on the grave at Christmas time were still there. Out of season now, the young man thought.
As he pulled them from the stone vase, something caught his eye. Barely visible in the pebbles at the bottom of the vase, he saw a corner of white paper. Somehow, after a year of snow and rain and wind, Levi’s last paper snowflake was still intact. As he reached for it, thinking he would put it with his great-grandparents other belongings in the basement, he realized it wasn’t a souvenir for him. It was Levi’s anniversary gift. It needed to stay exactly where it was.
- adapted from the writings of J. Stephen Lang, as told in The Christian Reader Magazine
The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.
· Thomas Merton
Valentine was a holy priest in Rome, who, with St. Marius and his family, assisted the martyrs persecuted under the Roman Emperor Claudius II. He was apprehended, and sent by the Emperor to the Prefect of Rome, who, on finding all his promises to make him renounce his faith in effectual, commended him to be beaten with clubs, and afterwards, to be beheaded, all of which was carried out on February 14, 270 A.D. The 14th was designated a feast day (until 1969, when it was dropped from the Roman Catholic calendar) to honor two Christian saints (at least one named Saint Valentine) martyred by Claudius II. There is a little bit of love stuff in this part, though -- the real reason Saint Valentine was beheaded was that he continued to marry young couples even though Claudius forbade it. Apparently Claudius thought that married soldiers weren't as good as single soldiers.
Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine's Day around 498 A.D. The Roman 'lottery' system for romantic pairing was deemed un-Christian and outlawed. Later, during the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds' mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of February -- Valentine's Day -- should be a day for romance. It is rather unlikely that the Emperor’s position has gained much support in the intervening years. St. Valentine’s day, on the other hand, continues its popularity as a day we think about love and romance, and if given enough prompting from our beloved, we do something on that special day, too.
Romance is an outward expression of love. There is never a shortage of opportunities to be romantic in a loving relationship, and romance is a skill that improves with use, not just on one or two days, or a handful of days each year, but to be romantic often, whenever and wherever possible. And at the foundation of great and enduring romance lies the love you have for yourself and your life, and the love you hold for those with whom you have the closest, caring relationships.
In Conversations with God can be found this thought: “at the critical juncture in all human relationships, there is only one question: what would love do now? No other question is relevant, no other question is meaningful, no other question has any importance to your soul.” Love is that which heals in ways that fear cannot. Fear wants things like security, guarantees, solutions, logic and proof. Fear is that which fights change, while love welcomes the changes of life as a natural result of growth and progress. Love knows that there are no guarantees, that all solutions are possible, that logic is subjective and proof is irrelevant. Love is. Love makes choices based on the greater good, the higher self, while fear simply motivates us by threatening loss, promoting alienation and separateness.
Love leads me to look within and listen to the beating of my heart, the gentle whisperings of the Spirit, and to accept all that I am at the moment. Weak or strong, happy or grieving, bright or cautious, it will change, but that is who I am today. Tomorrow will be different, because I love, and love calls for acceptance and growth. It leads me to an acceptance of others as and where they are, too. They are in process, growing and learning, and experiencing, and love provides the patience needed to accept where and who they are, while knowing that tomorrow will be different for them, too.
There seems to be a good reason why the heart is located in the middle of the body. It is nearer to the upper part, only a bit further away from the lower part – nearer to heaven, but still close enough to the earth – urging the finding of equilibrium between these two, the balance between the physical and the spiritual. The use of power without love leads to abuse and exploitation. Yet, the experiencing of love as an infinite source is one of the most joyous things I can experience while upon the earth, and allows me to drop the self-imposed veil of separateness and other self-defined boundaries and merge with that which permeates and sustains the Universe.
It is not always practical to be romantic, but it is always possible to practice love. I need only know what it is that I care about, and find the passion and the love in it. I need to feel the love that comes from my Creator, and be the part of it that I truly am, for without me there would be less love in the universe. I must reflect that love to others - in kind and patient ways, fully and completely, free of expectations or attempts to control and manipulate.
When I am faced with difficulties or tough questions in a relationship, or when I am looking for a little creativity in romance, there is, after all, only one relevant question to ask: what would love do now?