When my husband and I first started dating, I was one of those hopeless romantic types. You know, the kind that grew up watching Disney movies and rom-coms involving Prince Charming, happily ever after, adorable meet-cutes, gigantic, suspenseful, highly emotional grand gestures, perfect lines at the perfect moment, so on and so forth, et cetera.
Ah, that warm fuzzy feeling.
That whole, “oh-my-gosh-that-perfect-guy-is-so-perfect!” paired with a hope that one day, you might have someone bulldoze through crowds of people at a busy international airport to stop you from getting on that plane so that he can perform a heartbreakingly beautiful soliloquy about why you two belong together.
I still watch rom-coms. And dang, I still love ’em.
But, to be honest, my husband and I rarely do big, romantic gestures. We have a mutual agreement about it. Despite that, I used to hold that against him. I used to get all passive-aggressive about it.
For instance, a holiday like Valentine’s Day would come and go, and we wouldn’t do anything because “we” didn’t believe in it. But I’d still feel a little shortchanged. Poor guy. I mean, come on. How’s that for unfair?
The truth is, I used to be all about the grand gestures, the big demonstrations of love, the utterly romantic, perfectly crafted moments that take your breath away.
It’s funny though, because 10 years and two kids later, I’ve come to see love and romance in a whole different light. Flowers and chocolates are all well and good, but I’ve recently made a commitment to look out for the little things – those things that happen on a daily basis that show me just what love is.
Love is in that extra hour of sleep you didn’t even realize he gave you until you woke up feeling just a little bit more human.
Love is in that secret look and the stifled laughter you exchange when your toddler says or does something hilarious and maybe borderline inappropriate.
Love is in the fresh bottle of cold water that magically appears by your bedside lamp every night, because he knows you get thirsty when you get up to nurse the baby every two hours.
Love is in the realization that it’s been an entire week and you haven’t washed a single dish because he has just taken care of it.
Love is in putting away the laundry your partner spent time folding, because folding laundry is no easy feat when you have an assistant who’s under three feet tall and considers “folding” to be synonymous with “throwing.”
Love is in that moment when you’re in separate rooms trying to get the kids to sleep, and you unexpectedly get butterflies in your stomach because you’re excited that you get to hang out with your best friend soon.
Love is in that conversation on the couch in your sweatpants eating Pad Thai out of a box while you exchange stories about things your children did and replay videos of them being adorable even though they’ve only been asleep for five minutes.
Love is in those times you irritate each other and then realize that being annoyed at each other is really no fun and that you miss your buddy, so you suck it up and say you’re sorry.
Love is in the empathy he shows when you both know full well that, in this particular instance, you really are just being hormonal and maybe, possibly, mildly irrational.
Love is in the effect of that text message he sends telling you he’s coming home early.
Love is in the realization that, actually, you’re just as excited as your toddler to see him walk through that door at the end of each day. And not just because it means there are now more adults on duty to tackle the troops, but because your person is here and he makes you happy.
Love is in his acceptance of your obsessive hygiene standards, and when he uses your designated kitchen sponges in line with The System without making a fuss.
Love is in that moment when you’re trying to put your child to sleep, and just can’t anymore, and he comes in and takes over the bouncing, the shushing, the comforting. And you sit on the edge of the bed just watching him love your baby.
Love isn’t always in the big moments. More often than not, it’s in those numerous, seemingly inconsequential, in-between moments that punctuate a day. The moments that are prone to pass you by without you noticing them because you’re too busy waiting for the string instruments to start playing and the fireworks to shoot into the sky.
So take stock. I guarantee you’ll be surprised. You may find that love has become so ingrained in your life together that it infuses your daily actions and decisions – those things you do that are no big deal, but when examined closely, stem from your love for each other.
I’d take that over flowers and chocolates any day.