It’s a cliché that it’s the little things that make or break a relationship, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t some truth in that. For me, at least. Recently, I have become invested in playing Otome games in my spare time. They’re good for when you are ill and can’t really use your brain much, but also don’t want to nod off in front of a TV. They engage your brain just enough to keep you awake, but not enough to be taxing when you have no energy to put into life. It’s a hard time finding good games with an interesting story, strong characters and no sex (if you are intrigued, I loved Cinderella Phenomenon and Magical Otome Ciel, both free to play on Steam), and I have played some underwhelming stories, but a theme struck me in those I like, whether a bit or a lot. The romance blossomed over the little things.
It just seems more believable. Some of the main characters are just such doormats, and the men they attach themselves to such jerks, even the most innocent stories seem tinted with some degree of sadomasochism. Still, even those stories where I roll my eyes a lot always have some little things to show love, and I guess that’s the kind of optimism that I need when I’m home alone having a fever not high enough to warrant sleep, and not low enough to be fine, while my husband works long shifts 2h away from home so he can take care of me.
Sometimes I’m insecure and I ask him if he thinks I’m a good wife, and he always points out the fact that I get up (no matter how early at times) to make him breakfast. It’s never any cooking more elaborate than toast or porridge and a moka with enough coffee for 6, but it’s not about the food for him. He never saw his parents get up together (mine did most of the time, but then my mother is pretty much a vampire who never sleeps, so I never thought it was a married couple thing…). It makes him feel special. Sometimes I get out of bed a half-asleep zombie and have on one occasion made coffee with an empty moka instead of adding the coffee, so I’m in no way a perfect 1950s housewife all dressed up with a cute apron. In fairness, I’m no such creature even at night when my brain wakes up.
If he were to ask me if he is a good husband, two things would come to mind. One is, of course, that he goes up to work every day to shoulder the bulk of our expenses while I work to grow a ministry and write books amid rejected pitches as a journalist. The other is that he never shied away from my illnesses, and even figured out a way to ease my lower abdominal pain during flare-ups, when the reduced fiber intake means I swing from one symptom to the opposite. It isn’t exactly the stuff of romance as it’s shown in romantic comedies, and I know that many men are put off by the realisation their women are humans after all. But for me, it’s the stuff of romance in real life.
I talked about One Tree Hill in Monday’s post, and there is an episode in season 8 where Haley and Nathan are shown as the established couple sharing the bathroom before their day in contrast with another couple of newlyweds engaged in role-playing all day, and, despite being still a newlywed, the couple that really felt romantic to me was Naley (and not because they are, as you know by now, my favourites). There was such a playful intimacy between them that is often dismissed in favour of the more flashy romance of the honeymoon period, and when the plot twist showed Nathan doing something really special it was still homey and intimate and mature rather than flashy and trying to impress, setting a standard that is difficult to maintain over years to come (as it was the case for a 3rd couple).
I don’t think people on their deathbed regret not buying the bigger diamond, or proposing with a message in the sky. They regret not being there as much as they wanted because work got in the way, or how many days they wish they could get back if their spouse had already passed away. After my grandfather had died, my grandmother would always go on about how he used to call her his little doll. Apparently he was a womanizer who was tamed by true love, just like in the stories we read and watch, and it was something that simple that lived on after him. Even if, I’m sure, he has bought a few flashy things to his wife over the years. After all, one of them was around my neck on my wedding day.
Today’s blog post has been part of the Love Blog Challenge 2020 on the subject “Little Things”. Find the rest of the series here