Q. Is it just me or do other people’s husbands/boyfriends think romance is just another word for sex? No matter how many times I try to explain to my husband that romance means doing thoughtful things for one another, he just never seems able to make any gestures that could be described as “romantic.” I don’t need jewelry, or the cliché flowers and candy (although on occasion that’d be nice), but my husband just doesn’t seem to be interested, even knowing how much it means to me. He thinks “date night” is code for sex and nothing more. I understand he’s never been the romantic type, and he’s a wonderful husband otherwise, but knowing how much I long for it, shouldn’t he at least be making an effort? We’ve only been married for four years, but this makes me feel like maybe he just doesn’t love me in a way that inspires romance, and that thought is very upsetting to me. What do you think I should do?
A. Having been out on the dating scene for many years myself before marrying, I observed that there are many men who can be very thoughtful and creative in the romance department. Interestingly, I never felt that comfortable around them because the gestures seemed so contrived and empty to me when I was just getting to know someone. Perhaps that’s why I always gravitated toward less romantic men. The problem with that is that when you are in love with someone, and know them well, romance means much more. If you’ve picked a man who is romantically challenged, you’re kind of out of luck in that department. It’s like expecting him to suddenly start talking French when you’ve always known he has no affinity for other languages. I think being romantic is either in a person’s makeup or it isn’t.
What’s most important, though, is realizing that romantic ineptitude is not a sign that he doesn’t love you enough. It’s just a sign that you married a more pragmatic and possibly less imaginative man. If the rest of your relationship is going well, as you’ve intimated, I say you surprise him with a few romantic plans and actions, whether it be leaving an affectionate card in his briefcase, going to a cozy restaurant with great ambiance, splitting a great bottle of wine in the middle of the week, anything that you might feel you are missing in your life. If you show him what romance looks like, he’ll be more likely to get the picture—and it may be easier for him to duplicate on his own. In the meantime, focus on all his good traits, which in the long run, are probably a lot more crucial to a solid relationship.
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