I once thought that love was defined by romance.
I thought that the bigger the diamond, the more I was loved. Or the more flowers sent to the office, the more I was loved. Or the more exotic the surprise getaway, the more I was loved.
Well, I don’t have a big diamond. I think I received flowers at the office exactly one time. And there has never been an exotic or surprise getaway.
For a long time, I thought that because these things were lacking, my husband didn’t care about me.
But 13 years of marriage, four pregnancies, and two kids later, I’ve finally realized that my husband’s love for me cannot be measured in impractical gifts or momentary fantasies. In fact, my definition of romance has been wrong all along.
It’s not the expressions of love based in fantasy that matter, it’s the expressions of love shaped by reality.
Like when my husband comes home to piles of dirty dishes and dirty floors, and without prompting starts scrubbing and sweeping.
Or when he fills my car up with gas, and I don’t notice until I turn the ignition the next morning.
Or when he rearranges his schedule so I can run errands by myself.
Or when, before I officially lose it, he notices that I need a few minutes without my kids breathing down my neck.
Or when he takes out the garbage because there’s no telling when I’ll get around to doing it.
Or when he changes a diaper without me asking him to.
Or when he treats us to dinner at a burger joint so the dishes I just did and the floors I just swept might, fingers crossed, stay clean until breakfast.
Or when he chooses to comfort instead of criticize when life gets hard and my mood quickly deteriorates.
Romance isn’t shiny, expensive or luxurious.
Instead, it’s rather ordinary. It’s demonstrated by a husband who keeps showing up day after day despite the mess and hard work that’s involved. It’s the million little acts of service that are done simply out of love.
My husband loves me and he shows it. And maybe that’s all the romance I need.
**This article originally appeared on a Beautifully Burdened Life.