I walked into the room – and it took my breath away. The floor was covered with dozens and dozens of balloons. There was no balloon machine to do the work. Just the exhaled breath of my fiance, repeated over and over again. It must’ve taken him hours. Hours of blowing up balloons of all colors and sizes.
And as I looked a little closer, each one of them had a note inside. A handwritten note, folded into a small enough size to fit into the opening of a ballon. He beamed with joy in seeing my overwhelmed reaction, announced that it was “Lori Appreciation Day” and lovingly encouraged me to pop each one to release the tiny treasure inside.
“The room lights up when you smile.”
“You are a beautiful picture of the Father’s love.”
“I’ve loved you since the first time I saw you.”
They went on and on. Minute by minute of experiencing his thoughtfuless, his delight in surprise, and his deep love. That is romance.
And that was 20+ years ago. I hang my head when I say that, little by little, with about as much incremental precision as I popped the balloons those many years ago, I extinguished the light of his whimsical, romantic expression of love to me. What happened? Well, I became practical. I became too busy for “fluff”. I became preoccupied with efficiency. I became overwhelmed with creating the life I’d always dreamed, complete with ever-multiplying children.
Love, to me, became about the practical, because the practical was where I lived. I lived with poopy diapers, trash that always overflowed, an apartment that always needed cleaning, and more children than I had hands. Who needs flowers when you’re laboring over the price of groceries? Who needs notes left on the pillow when your head leaves the pillow full of the check lists of the day? Who needs a romantic dinner when all you dream about is sleep?
I do……now. Maturing into the middle of my life, I can see that this journey is so much more than the drive for the perfection, more than the management of the daily tasks. I learned that if you don’t have romance, beauty, tenderness, or surprises, the difficulties of life severely outweigh the joys of life.
Fast forward in my story of the previous few posts, approximately 20 years, and at this point, being severely depleted and dangerously close to debilitating depression, I was grasping for the oxygen that my husband had once provided me – his thoughtful, generous lavishing of romance.
In the car ride back from our friend’s wedding, I permissioned him to give expression to the part of himself that I had effectively silenced. I tried to verbally undo years of nailing shut the door to his romantic side. And he agreed to try. That began a new journey for us. A journey in which I was determined to be open to all forms of his expression of love, and he pledged to begin rediscovering his atrophied romance muscles.
In the next few posts, and I’ll give a few specifics on how we accomplished this. It is a road that we’re still travelling, but we have left some road signs behind us to help others yet to come.