This past Tuesday was my 6th wedding anniversary. Yes, now you all know the date, good readers, or will if you consult a calendar. I will expect presents next time.
“We’re at six years,” I told my husband on the day itself. “In traditional gift terms, that means candy or iron.”
We laughed over it, then decided to put off any celebrations until Thursday night. I had an office party on Wednesday I needed to cook for, and the holidays had us both rushing around. We decided to celebrate by treating ourselves to dinner at the Hilltop Steak House, a sort of lick of Las Vegas strip here in Massachusetts. We both ate ridiculously large steaks, then came home and watched some Christmas specials before he dozed off, and I sat down to do some writing.
Before our six year marriage began, we had a romantic relationship for nine years, so we’ve been involved with each other for fifteen years all told. Maybe you’re wondering how we’ve made it work so long, especially where we seem to take things so casually in our romantic life. I mean, putting off the anniversary plans? Choosing the restaurant for the big dinner the night of it? Surely that can’t work?
For us, surely it does.
Ring Around the Rosie
The nice thing about my husband and I is that we’re very casual when it comes to romance. Our anniversary is a nice day to look back and reflect on our lives together, sure, but we don’t feel constrained by it. Likewise, Valentine’s Day is all well and good for the gift card industry, but for us, it passes without much of a blip on the romantic radar. Why? Because neither of us feels like we need a specific day to say “I love you”.
It might help if you knew that our “wedding rings” cost us probably…oh…say $25.00 each. They don’t even match at this point. I’m wearing a ring I bought at a gay pride festival in Northampton, MA, and he’s wearing a ring we got on Amazon.
These rings aren’t even the first rings we got for this purpose. During our first joint visit to Walt Disney World in 2002, we got carved rings at Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion. We bought rings for each other that had each others’ nicknames on them, and we exchanged them at the stave church in Epcot’s Norway. He kissed, and we both cried a lot. Then we watched the Tapestry of Dreams parade and the Illuminations: Reflections of Earth fireworks. It was a perfect night.
Two years later, a judge ruled that gay marriage in Massachusetts was a-okay, and we shrugged, smiled, and headed to the courthouse a few months after it started. We exchanged those Epcot rings in the presence of my mother and a justice of the peace, and we were suddenly legally married.
Over the years that followed, those original rings vanished. Neither of us are particularly good at wearing jewelry, I guess. We lose them places…Steve’s original Epcot ring disappeared when we were staying at his parents’ place in California, and I don’t honestly recall where my Epcot rings disappeared to. When it happened, we shrugged and started shopping on Amazon.
How can we be so casual, you’re wondering? Doesn’t it matter to us?
The fact is that what matters to me is Steve. If he’s happy, if he’s feeling valued and loved, feeling supported emotionally, feeling like everything between us is honest and open, then I feel like I’m doing a good job as a husband. The fact that our rings don’t match, or whether or not we buy each other special cards on Valentine’s Day, or if we play fast and loose with our Anniversary plans…these things don’t make either of us feel like we’re not taking it seriously. It’s just a matter of priorities.
We give priority to our well-being, our happiness, and our lives together. We have a great house, a fantastic dog, and a great social circle of friends. We’re both extremely happy people. Do we have depressed days? Of course. Everyone does. But each of us is quick to try and help the other out of that slump. Do we have little fights now and then? Rarely, but yes. We make up quickly, and we never go to bed angry at each other.
Does this work? Well, it works for us. As I say in many of my articles, your mileage may vary. Maybe it works for you and yours to have a special day to make that public overture of love. Heck, I won Steve’s Dad over because I sent Steve a bouquet of roses on Valentine’s Day. I honestly think that elevated me from “guy who wants to have sex with my son” to “guy who’s in love with my son”, and our relationship really flourished thereafter.
Can I Make This Approach Work for Me?
Since a lot of folks are likely reading these articles looking for advice while dating, I don’t recommend our approach for early points in the relationship. The early years of my relationship with Steve are punctuated by little things like the roses on Valentine’s Day. It’s important to note, however, that cost is not the point, or shouldn’t be. If you can do something intensely personal, you shouldn’t be biting your nails over the fact that it didn’t cost much to do. During my first date with Steve, I brought along some high end chocolate and some pineapple chunks, because I knew these were both things he loved from the conversations we’d had prior to becoming romantic. We still smile and talk about that time, and it didn’t cost more than $10.00 or so to do. And you know how they say that homemade gifts show the most love? Well…that’s honestly pretty much true. Steve often paints something for me for my birthday or Christmas, and this generally means more to me than any other gift. And the gift I was most excited to give him this year is a story I wrote just for him. D’awww!
I think that, as long as both partners are committed to the low-key approach, the casual approach to long-term romance can be a model for making it work. That’s the same caveat I offer on many such living arrangements, however: both partners need to be 100% on board with it. If one partner thinks that getting flowers is the ultimate expression of romance, then it behooves the other partner to make some compromises, even if they don’t see the point. Romantic gestures like this have as much clout as both partners allow them to. I’m not a huge fan of half-sour pickles, but Steve is. So when I head to the store, I sometimes just pick up a jar and bring them home. It’s just a little gesture that tells Steve that I’m thinking of him. We sometimes leave each other little lovey-dovey post-it notes, or send emails over the course of the day.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that every day is a good day for a romantic gesture. Don’t feel the need to push it all to one mad extravagant day a year. And don’t feel the need to do something grand and out-of-control when something understated and meaningful works just as well. In fact, especially early on, you’re more likely to impress a date by offering something personal. It proves you’ve been paying attention to likes and dislikes, and it doesn’t come across as over-the-top. You might think giving your date a valuable gift is impressive, but your date might be thinking, “Uh oh…danger! Evasive maneuvers!” It’s too easy to come on too strong and scare someone off.
Tell Me Your Tale
I love romantic stories, don’t you? So why not share something personal and romantic with us?
Is there some little tradition you share with your partner? Or some romantic gesture one of you made to the other that was really touching? Tell us!