The Ordinary Romance of Marriage

It was a Saturday evening not too long ago. I was getting ready to go out with my girlfriends. We were going to a nice dinner at a swanky restaurant in the oh-so-hip part of town. I had showered, washed and dried my hair, and even put on makeup.

But when my husband walked into our closet, what do you think he saw? A woman who was ready to go? A hot, 40-something mama ready for a night out on the town with her friends?


He found a hot mama, alright! A hot mess of a mama who couldn’t, for the life of her, figure out what to wear. A mama who felt like no matter what she did, she just wasn’t going to look cute enough or stylish enough. Who felt two-sizes too big for every piece of clothing she owned.

Knowing What I Need

Now, he could’ve run out of that closet. Not a soul would’ve blamed him, least of all me! But he didn’t. He stayed. He talked me through what I would feel comfortable in and what the other gals would be wearing. And he reassured me that yes, my clothes did indeed still fit.

He stayed with me, encouraged me, and made me laugh. When I was finally ready to walk out the door, he twirled me around and planted a big ol’ kiss on me for good luck.

Ladies, if that ain’t romance, I don’t know what is.

A Long Time Gone

It’s crazy to think that in just a few short months, my college sweetheart and I will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. This month, in fact, we celebrate 23 years since asked me to be his girlfriend. So, yeah, you could say we’ve been a long time gone on each other.

On the other hand, how many other couples do you know and look up to who have been “boyfriend/girlfriend” for decades longer than that?

Our parishes and families are full of examples of that long-lasting love. Love that evolves from the fluttering hearts and dewy-eyed flirtations of those early days together, to the deep understanding and commitment of lives lived intertwined in purpose and faith.

No two couples are alike, though. So what counts as romance in one relationship will look very different than what might be romantic in another. And honestly? That’s such a beautiful thing!

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Cruising Along Together

My dad’s parents were deeply in love for the entire 57 years they were married. My grandad liked to tell about a cruise to Alaska they took around their 50th anniversary.

They were snuggled together on a deck bench as they watched the world go by. He turned to my grandmother and asked if she would like to smooch, seeing as it was such a pretty spot and all. And—this was his favorite part of the story—she turned him down! They were in public and she would do no such thing!

Every time he told this story, they would both laugh! And I have to tell you, friend, the look that would pass between the two of them then was the stuff that books are written about. The knowing, loving smile she would give him, and the impish grin he would shoot back, was so special. Even my teenage self knew it to be extraordinary.

Relationships of All Types

Alternately, of course, we all know those couples whose common love language seems to be bickering. No public smooching for them! Yet, despite the bickering and sharper edges, you can see the deep and abiding love and esteem they have for one another.

Each type of relationship is beautiful, don’t you think? How marvelous that God brings together partners who can, over time and through serious trial and error, learn to love each other so well.

Cards and Flowers Not Necessary (But Appreciated!)

As couples grow and mature alongside each other in marriage, we work to learn exactly how to make our spouses feel loved.

For some, grand romantic gestures are where it’s at. They live for the trips and gifts and spontaneous flowers, the Valentine candies and the candlelit dinners for two.

For others, it’s the fact that he knows exactly how she takes her coffee. And that she knows just the right time to offer for him to hit the golf course with his buddies or take a run by himself.

Sure, there are all kinds of romantic gestures. This time of year, the Hallmark Channel and the card aisle at Target are overrun with glittery pink and red ways of showing how much you “love” someone. Floral shops and candy stores are bursting with sweet, sweet inventory.

You know what I say to that? Fantastic! Those gestures are lovely, wanted, and greatly appreciated.

But take it from this old married lady (and, yes, I do say that with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek): the most romantic gestures aren’t in things. They are born out of truly seeing and knowing the other person. The most romantic story isn’t found in a novel, but in living the ordinariness of life in love together.

Marriage and Ordinary Romance

True, ordinary, beautiful romance is experienced in hearts that beat together, trust each other, and truly desire what is best for the other.

In my humble opinion, there’s not much in this world that can top the “ordinary” romance of marriage.

Today, let’s pray for all married couples, that they feel that beautiful romance deep within their souls and never take it for granted.

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Beth Williby is a regular contributor to the BIS blog. She is a mom of four pretty amazing humans and has been married to her college sweetheart for almost twenty years. She does her best praying through singing and feeding the people she loves. Having grown up in the Midwest, she now calls Northeast Florida home. You can find out more about her here.

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