The First Rule of Romance

 

Romance is the lover at play.

An acquaintance of mine told me how he had asked his live-in partner to marry him. He and his partner had lived together for several years. He had been married before and had grown children. The kitchen faucet started acting up, so she got under the sink and began working on it. He was watching her work and was moved by how much he loved this remarkable person.

So he decided in that moment to ask her to marry him.

Her response?

“You ask me this…NOW?”

My acquaintance unknowingly violated the first rule of romance:

Always make sure
your partner has a great story to tell.

Here’s how I asked my wife to marry me:

I had the ring, and I called up our best friends, two couples, Ed and Diane, and Paula and Bernard.

I explained that I was going to pop the question at an especially nice,  upscale restaurant in Palo Alto, on a Sunday evening. The restaurant was in on it, and they had prepared two tables, one for me and my future wife, and a separate one that we would move to, set for six.

I wanted our friends to pick up six dozen sunflowers and six dozen roses that I had ready for them at a florist. Sunflowers were her favorite flower, and roses were for our love.

They would arrive at a predetermined time, about 15 minutes after we had sat down at the table. I would be positioned where I could see past her when they arrived with the flowers.

I played it cool that evening. I had told her we had reservations for dinner.

As the time approached, with her having worked that day (self-employed), she mentioned that she was not sure it was worth our dressing up.

I agreed that it might not be worth the effort, but I knew her. This restaurant was upscale just enough that business casual would work. But it was also a place where evening gowns and a coat and tie were appropriate.

After a while, she came back and said, “Why not dress up? It’s a nice restaurant.”

And, smiling inside, I agreed.

We arrived on time, the restaurant workers expectant, careful not to give anything away.

We relaxed and ordered drinks. Just on time, I saw our friends arrive carrying armfuls of flowers. She looked wide-eyed as they walked up smiling, holding the flowers in their arms.

Just then, I got up, dropped to one knee, held up a ring case, and opened it to reveal the ring.

A restaurant full of patrons and workers applauded.

The rest is history. And a darn good story.

Romance is about storytelling. Great and surprising stories. Unexpected stories.

All you need to do to be romantic
is to create for your partner
a great, living, unexpected, surprising story.

The wonderful thing about such stories is that the good ones get better in the telling. You will find that over time, as the story gets told over and over to others, that love is rekindled and romance stays in the air.

Don’t fall into the trap of believing that the male in a relationship should be the prime story creator. Females have just as much an obligation to create stories for the men in their lives; stories you want them to tell their friends.

Never forget that your prime obligation in romance is very simple:

Create a great story.

Published in Marriage
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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Mark Alexander:

    Never forget that your prime obligation in romance is very simple:

    Create a great story.

    I like it.

    • #1
  2. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Mark Alexander:

    He and his partner had lived together for several years. He had been married before and had grown children.

    The kitchen faucet started acting up, so she got under the sink and began working on it. He was watching her work and was moved by how much he loved this remarkable person.

    So he decided in that moment to ask her to marry him.

    Her response?

    “You ask me this…NOW?”

     

    I can identify the moment I became convinced the now-40-years-married Mrs. Tabby was the person to marry.  One evening, instead of having our previously planned dinner at her favorite restaurant followed by a walk on the beach boardwalk, she and my mother were hanging on the edge of my mother’s garage door to hold the garage door in place while I replaced the springs, one of which had broken that morning. 

    I did not ask her at that moment, though. I still didn’t get the romance story right, as I asked in my mother’s living room several months later during a brief visit home from 1,000 mile away school. 

    • #2
  3. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Mark Alexander:

    Never forget that your prime obligation in romance is very simple:

    Create a great story.

    Oh, man! Why do I always have to put the kibosh on such firmly held ideas. Well, maybe this is all right for romance but is it the same for marriage. I don’t mean they don’t go together but I don’t see them as the same thing. I asked my wife to marry me because she stood out as the person with whom I could have a family and my best guess is that she took me as one who would provide. She probably never thought about a story to tell and I didn’t. But we have been married for 55 years next month and we both got what we were seeking. And there was romance but that was not the main thing.

    • #3
  4. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander:

    Never forget that your prime obligation in romance is very simple:

    Create a great story.

    Oh, man! Why do I always have to put the kibosh on such firmly held ideas. Well, maybe this is all right for romance but is it the same for marriage. I don’t mean they don’t go together but I don’t see them as the same thing. I asked my wife to marry me because she stood out as the person with whom I could have a family and my best guess is that she took me as one who would provide. She probably never thought about a story to tell and I didn’t. But we have been married for 55 years next month and we both got what we were seeking. And there was romance but that was not the main thing.

    FIRST rule… there are others. And their is both romance before marriage and romance after, which are different. 😇

    • #4
  5. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Lovely story.

    Mark Alexander:

    An acquaintance of mine told me how he had asked his live-in partner to marry him. He and his partner had lived together for several years. He had been married before and had grown children. The kitchen faucet started acting up, so she got under the sink and began working on it. He was watching her work and was moved by how much he loved this remarkable person.

    So he decided in that moment to ask her to marry him.

    Her response?

    “You ask me this…NOW?”

    My acquaintance unknowingly violated the first rule of romance:

    Always make sure
    your partner has a great story to tell.

    You don’t think this is a great story? (Said the girl who peruses the power tool catalogs early every December for new Bosch, Dewalt and Stihl entries, circles the one she’s interested in, and leaves the pages out for Santa to find, in the hope that at least one of them will arrive, boxed and gift-wrapped, on the 25th.)

    I jest (but not by much).  When it comes to ‘stories,’ I suffer from an embarrassment of riches, even just in the singular narrative of the marriage department.  Graduate student.  Fell in love with medievalist English professor.  Affection reciprocated, apparently.  (Not sure who’s came first, or how it happened, even.) Romance developed one summer when I was working as the live-in nanny for Senator Heinz’s nieces and nephew and living in a beautiful “cottage” (sort of in the sense that Frogmore is a cottage) on the Heinz estate.  Married him in 1981 on a camping trip to the White Mountains of NH.  Bride wore shorts.  Groom was hirsute and, clothing-wise, looked like a refuge from the BeeGees.  His children were best man, flower girl, and photographer.  Lived for a couple of years among drug peddlers and users, and dog-fighters, in an exceeding low-rent district in Pittsburgh (between us, we sent a few of them to jail).  Sold that house for $5,500 in 1986 and moved to rural SW PA where we lived in a tent for the summer, dug a hole in a field, and started to build a house ourselves.  We must have done something right along the way, because in the face of life’s usual (and some of them rather unusual) ups and downs, we made it through 39 years to Mr. She’s sad death last July from dementia and chronic heart problems.  Every one of those moments is, and has, its own story.

    I doubt, in these woke times, we’d have made it past step three above, after which Mr. She would have been fired, disgraced,  and cancelled. (Or maybe I’d have simply lived my life for twenty or thirty years before remembering the psychological trauma he’d caused me, and then launched, announcing that I’d been damaged-for-life, and collecting millions of social media followers and a whopping settlement from the university for enabling such a sexist situation in the first place.)

    Indeed, we were the scandal of the year (1979 or s0).  It didn’t help that Dad taught African history and languages at the same university at which Mr. She taught Medieval Lit and I was a teaching assistant in the English department.  It was a full 20 years after the two of us were married that Mr. She finally met my mother.  A situation fraught with immense tension, but fortunately she decided–as she was prone to in her declining years–that this new person she met reminded her (favorably in his case) of someone she knew as a child, the two of them got on swimmingly, and she was his greatest fan for the last few years of her life (even knit him a sweater, the ultimate sign of love in my family).

    Yes, I have stories.   Here’s just one.

    • #5
  6. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander:

    He and his partner had lived together for several years. He had been married before and had grown children.

    The kitchen faucet started acting up, so she got under the sink and began working on it. He was watching her work and was moved by how much he loved this remarkable person.

    So he decided in that moment to ask her to marry him.

    Her response?

    “You ask me this…NOW?”

     

    I can identify the moment I became convinced the now-40-years-married Mrs. Tabby was the person to marry. One evening, instead of having our previously planned dinner at her favorite restaurant followed by a walk on the beach boardwalk, she and my mother were hanging on the edge of my mother’s garage door to hold the garage door in place while I replaced the springs, one of which had broken that morning.

    I did not ask her at that moment, though. I still didn’t get the romance story right, as I asked in my mother’s living room several months later during a brief visit home from 1,000 mile away school.

    LOL my proposal to neutral observer was hardly romantic.  We were on her front porch, me with a bottle of beer and she with a glass of wine.  We talked and talked about doing this and going there, so finally I said something like, “Maybe we should get married.”  She looked at me and said, “Say that again.  I want to make sure I heard you correctly.”  I repeated the comment, and we took it from there – went and got a ring, and got married the following June.

    As I’ve told our fellow Ricochetti, she made me say it twice because she wanted to make sure it wasn’t the beer talking or the wine listening . . .

    • #6
  7. MISTER BITCOIN Member
    MISTER BITCOIN
    @MISTERBITCOIN

    Seinfeld dialogue

    Elaine, will you marry me?

    Elaine: Can I see the ring again?

     

    • #7
  8. I Shot The Serif Member
    I Shot The Serif
    @IShotTheSerif

    I don’t know, your story sounds pretty boring. Classically romantic and socially acceptable, but boring.

    We were cleaning up LEGO. Way more fun.

     

    • #8
  9. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    I Shot The Serif (View Comment):

    I don’t know, your story sounds pretty boring. Classically romantic and socially acceptable, but boring.

    We were cleaning up LEGO. Way more fun.

     

    Best when the story fits the person.

    • #9
  10. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    I Shot The Serif (View Comment):

    I don’t know, your story sounds pretty boring. Classically romantic and socially acceptable, but boring.

    We were cleaning up LEGO. Way more fun.

    Best when the story fits the person.

    Couldn’t agree more.  Reminds me of my favorite review of the second movie in the Bridget Jones series.  I can’t remember who wrote it (it sounds as if it may have been Mark Steyn; perhaps not), but it expressed a bit of disappointment in Movie #2, because it violated the rule of Movie #1.  And it was expressed somewhat thusly:  “The problem with the second movie is that, in it, things happen to Bridget.  In the first movie, Bridget happens to things.

    Sometimes, we are just bystanders, and things/stories happen to us.  I’ve been that way all my life, and that’s the way I like it.  (Uh-huh.)

    • #10
  11. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    My wife and I discussed it and together we decided to get married.  “Popping” the question is for the movies.  If you both don’t already know the answer to the question, then you shouldn’t be asking.

    • #11
  12. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    He’s marrying her for her plumbing skills……..

    Your lovely event reminded me of Moonstruck when Johnny Cammarari proposes to Cher in the restaurant – it wasn’t elaborate but the same thing happened – the restaurant applauded and Bobo the owner says 
    he’s ruining his suit”!

    Do people even get married anymore?

    • #12
  13. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Skyler (View Comment):

    My wife and I discussed it and together we decided to get married. “Popping” the question is for the movies. If you both don’t already know the answer to the question, then you shouldn’t be asking.

    Wow Skyler – that is so romantic…….

    Go back to the story and make it up to her……

    • #13
  14. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    My wife and I discussed it and together we decided to get married. “Popping” the question is for the movies. If you both don’t already know the answer to the question, then you shouldn’t be asking.

    Wow Skyler – that is so romantic…….

    Go back to the story and make it up to her……

    Romance is for other times, not for planning the rest of your life.  If you haven’t already had romance and aren’t expecting to have more, then why are you bothering to marry?  

    • #14
  15. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander:

    Never forget that your prime obligation in romance is very simple:

    Create a great story.

    Oh, man! Why do I always have to put the kibosh on such firmly held ideas. Well, maybe this is all right for romance but is it the same for marriage. I don’t mean they don’t go together but I don’t see them as the same thing. I asked my wife to marry me because she stood out as the person with whom I could have a family and my best guess is that she took me as one who would provide. She probably never thought about a story to tell and I didn’t. But we have been married for 55 years next month and we both got what we were seeking. And there was romance but that was not the main thing.

    FIRST rule… there are others. And their is both romance before marriage and romance after, which are different. 😇

    There is a story behind mine but it is mainly hers. I proposed to my wife when we were sitting together in my car in the parking lot of her apartment building.  She said: yes, but… you’ll have to ask my mother. That worked out just fine, no problems. But here’s what I found out some three plus decades later. When I first asked her out, she had given the ring to her mother to return and break her existing engagement. Don’t ask me any questions, that’s all I know except that my wife is good at keeping secrets.

    • #15
  16. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    Skyler (View Comment):

    My wife and I discussed it and together we decided to get married. “Popping” the question is for the movies. If you both don’t already know the answer to the question, then you shouldn’t be asking.

    Happened the same way with me and Mr AZ. It was a second marriage for both of us and we were getting along quite well. So we just talked about it.

    My first marriage was even less romantic. We were living together off campus and were losing our cheap rental apartment. We wanted to move into married student housing at UC Riverside and they required (gasp!) that couples be married. So we grabbed our best friends and drove to Vegas one Saturday. Well, I did get my kids out of that marriage and one of them even turned out well.

    • #16