I know I'm not the only girl who imagined being courted by someone like Fitzwilliam Darcy after reading Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice." Seeing Mr. Darcy brought to life in several film and television adaptations only made my romantic notions stronger. As I got closer to actually choosing a spouse, a romantic nature seemed important, but not crucial. Since I chose a more practical mate and one not prone to writing poetry, dancing the Quadrille or escorting me to dinner, I've learned to recognize romance in different ways. If your husband lacks the gentlemanly manners and romantic nature of an Austen hero, you might need to consider these four points.
1. Romance is relative. When I receive a tender email or card from my husband, I know to cherish it. He shows his romantic side in subtle ways not grand gestures. He's probably not going to write me an epic poem or take me dancing at a ball. That's OK, because I want him to be romantic in ways that feel natural. Recognize and appreciate your partner's brand of romance like when he pulls you aside for a lingering kiss or lets you sleep in while he gets the kids some breakfast.
2. Effort counts. My husband knows I'd like him to be more romantic, so he tries. Sometimes his efforts don't go over quite as planned, like the anniversary we spent two hours driving around looking for the secluded cabin we were staying in only to find it lacked any bedding. I appreciate his effort, though, and we laugh about that crazy night. When your spouse takes the time to plan romantic things, like a special date night or a weekend getaway, he's showing you he loves you and wants to make you happy, even if every moment isn't perfect.
3. Compromise is key. A relationship is successful when both partners are willing to compromise. My husband doesn't care for romantic comedies or period dramas, but knows I enjoy them, so occasionally we watch one together. I know it's not natural for him to be outwardly affectionate, so I don't always push him to hold my hand or kiss me in public. I'm willing to watch an action movie or plan dates he enjoys because I want him to feel validated and important. As we compromise and are selfless, romance blossoms.
4. Mr. Darcy didn’t start out romantic. If you recall the novel, Elizabeth Bennet is not at all taken with Mr. Darcy when they first meet. She rejects his first heartfelt proposal and dismisses him handily. Later, as she realizes the way he has helped her family and quietly supported her, the attraction grows.
If your husband doesn’t seem romantic, don’t despair. As he learns what you like, and as your love for him grows, you’ll find him being more romantic. As I take the time to remember the last 16 years, I can recall several times my husband has tried his hand at being romantic, including surprising me with a new wedding band and learning to make my favorite chocolate dessert. He’s even suggested a night out at the ballet.
Regency era manners are a bit outdated, and not many men I know are willing to dress for dinner, but that does not mean they don’t want to be romantic. Relax your ideas of what romance is and acknowledge the ways your spouse shows his love. You may find out you have your very own Mr. Darcy, even if you don’t live at Pemberley.
Amy M. Peterson, a former high school English teacher, currently lives in Oregon with her husband and four children. She spends her days writing, reading, exercising and trying to get her family to eat more vegetables.