My husband is not romantic. I don’t mean that he is never romantic. He is sometimes. I just mean that he doesn’t have a habit of doing things that fit into the traditional mold of romantic behavior. He rarely comes home with flowers. He doesn’t often schedule surprise date nights. He has never drawn me a candlelit bath, sprinkled with rose petals. Not one surprise trip overseas scheduled behind my back. And you might think that I would feel disappointed. That I might long for surprise spa days and candlelit dinners on the balcony. But I don’t. Well, maybe I occasionally long for a spa day, but I know what I have in my non-romantic husband. I know how lucky I am. If you have a non-romantic husband, you probably feel the same way.
If your husband is like mine, he often has the best of intentions. He is kind, funny, and thoughtful. But he just doesn’t think about romantic gestures. The things he does think about are invaluable to the life of a busy, working mom. He deep-cleans my kitchen counters — takes everything off the countertops and wipes down every surface. No more toast crumbs or lingering pancake syrup from breakfast. He cleans up the kids’ rooms and folds towels with me as we watch TV on the couch at night. You know what I think is better than a candlelit bath? Clean laundry. I can run my own bathwater, friends. But those towels aren’t going to fold themselves.
My husband spends most of his time at work, carefully balancing actual work that he needs to get done and phone calls from me to issue a fatherly over-the-phone correction to my oldest rebel child when he is being difficult. He is finishing up a seminary degree, and he manages to work in class and study time. When he gets home, he sits on the living room floor and plays with our children while I finish dinner. He would come work alongside me in the kitchen if I asked, and often does, but we have worked out a good rhythm. It helps to have my children out of the kitchen. I admit I get a little starry-eyed over the man when he is bathing our two children, allowing me some time to sit on the couch and read after a long day of working and parenting. It may not sound romantic, but it speaks love to me.
He organizes our budget, and he does the
nerdy dirty work of tracking every penny to be sure we don’t overspend. He goes to the bank and withdraws cash every two weeks to replenish our cash budgeting system. He takes care of oil changes and tire rotations and similar things that I have no interest in doing. This week our van was making a terrible noise. I asked him to drop it off at the mechanic on his way to work, and he drove back home at the end of the day with a repaired van. No strange brake noises. I’ll take a running vehicle over grocery store flowers.
Sometimes he sends me out of the house and tells me to go take time for myself. He stays home and handles the kids. He doesn’t text to ask me where I am and when I am going to be home. He encourages me to go do things that help me remember that I have gifts and talents beyond motherhood. There are plenty of hugs and kisses and foot rubs. There are intimacy and trust. I am on the receiving end of a thousand little kindnesses every day.
When I need a date night, I’ll ask for one. It doesn’t mean less to me because I had to ask for it. I remind him when our anniversary is coming, in case he needs a nudge in the right direction for a gift. For Valentine’s Day, we have a $10 budget to purchase something creative for each other. One year, early in our relationship, he couldn’t think of anything to get me, so on our way home from our Valentine’s Day dinner, he just handed me the $10. Not romantic. We passed a small carnival, and I decided to overlook the lack of romance in the gift. I made him stop, and we spent the money on a funnel cake and a Ferris wheel ride.
I don’t mind being the initiator of the romance when necessary. I have even been known to stop and buy a small bouquet of flowers for myself if I see them on sale. Sometimes I like flowers. But I have learned to appreciate the strengths in my partner and to not focus on what might be missing. He is a solid, hilariously funny, dependable presence in my life. There’s no one with whom I’d rather sit and watch The Office. He is my husband, and I’m so glad.